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Plastic Packaging  the need to reducePlastic Packaging the need to reduce

Educational Outreach Program
Feb. 2009 Edition

Plastic packaging or rather the overuse of plastic packaging is a problem - there is just too much of the stuff.

As consumers, we often feel overwhelmed and powerless to the mountains of plastic packaging coming into our lives with the products we buy. Cosmetics, toys, eggs, chocolates, produce, cookies, snack foods, tools and appliances are just a few items that create packaging discards we must deal with. A single purchase can mean bringing home more packaging than product.

In less than one generation, the use and disposal of single-use plastic packaging has grown from 120,000 tons in 1960 to over 12,720,000 tons per year today. In 1960 Barbie dolls were packaged in small boxes with cellophane windows and while today's doll travels the same distance the packaging has drastically increased.

The original concept behind packaging was to protect the product from damage and to aid storage and transportation. Today much more is involved in the careful design of a product package; it is now a marketing tool to motivate us to buy the merchandise. When we choose the large colourful plastic package because we think of clean, attractive, or fun; we also pay for the large colourful package. As consumers we pay for packaging in the price of an item (10 cents of every shopping dollar is used to pay for packaging) and as consumers we pay again to get rid of the packaging with our waste and recycling services.

As shoppers, we have the power to create less! We can make a difference. Here are some ideas on how to reduce plastic packaging:

  1. Avoid purchasing over-packaged products

  2. Ask your retail outlets to stock products with less packaging

  3. Find out if your retail outlet offers a "take-back" program for packaging. (London Drugs offers this service)

  4. Learn what kinds of packaging can be recycled. Packaging is often made from lower grade plastic which are more difficult to find recycling markets for.

  5. Buy locally crafted or grown products

  6. Buy in bulk or buy larger sizes. Smaller sizes often use more packaging per ounce of product. A family of four can save thousands of dollars a year by buying the largest size they can.

  7. Think before buying. Do you need it? How does this purchase effect the environment?

  8. Buy products that use recycled materials in packaging. Eggs in cardboard cartons are packaged in a container with recycled content.

  9. Make environmental concern part of your consumer identity (manufacturers will respond)

  10. Local retailers and fast food outlets can be encouraged to use packaging with recycled content, packaging that is recyclable or biodegradable options.

Remember to feel proud and empowered with your "green" shopping choices; you are making a difference. Our shopping habits and behaviours do not have to cost us the planet.

Educational Outreach
Gibsons Recycling Depot

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