Our Grocery Choices: Some Recycling Packaging Conundrums
February 15, 2023
We often hear about nixing the plastic bag for a reusable and that’s easy. What about some of the more complex sustainability conundrums as we stroll through the grocery aisles?
- Styrofoam: Always looks for an alternative. Eggs? Choose paper. Meat? Buy directly from the butcher.
- Yogurt: Small containers or the big tub? Select the big tub unless you won’t be able to finish it to avoid the food waste.
- Soup stock: Nix the non-recyclable Tetrapaks (often used for stock and alternative milks). Choose concentrated stock in small glass jars or cubes.
- Kid lunch items: The cute single-use items are screaming to be purchased (mini applesauce, juice boxes, Lunchables, etc.), but they are single-use and end up in the landfill. Pack your own goodies in reusable containers and save money.
- Coffee and tea: Standard plastic coffee bags that are mixed with paper or metal are not recyclable. Buy in bulk with your own containers or buy coffee in a metal container and avoid using the individual coffee pods. Tea can also be purchased in bulk but if individual bags are preferred, they are compostable. Prioritize teas in paper packaging rather than plastic or mixed-material packaging.
Packaging is complex and ever-changing. If in doubt, always choose paper, metal, or glass over plastic. Plastic was an amazing invention at one point in history, but we are now seeing the environmental repercussions. Glass and metal can be recycled endlessly without degrading in quality. Paper is easily recyclable and usually compostable. It’s the smart choices we make now that will benefit our children down the road.
By Mary Closser