Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Change the World Wednesday - Reduce Packaging!

I got the title from a post I found on the Little Green Blog and since this is the reason why I started my blog I thought I'd post the tips from that site here and comment on how I'm doing with them.

Tip 1). Ditch the plastic carrier bag
Hopefully you’re all doing this already; but if not, why not treat yourself to a reusable bag this week? Find one you can keep in your bag, briefcase, car or pocket and set yourself the goal of remembering to use it. You might like an Onya bag which folds up inside itself and comes with a caribiner clip to attach to your belt loop, handbag or key ring. Or you might like to get a recycled bag, like these made from recycled rice sacks.

Me: Yup, I'm working on this. See my post "How I learned to stop worrying and love my reusable bag."

Tip2). Take your own container
If you use a local butcher, fish market or deli counter, take your own lidded containers with you. When y0u make a purchase as them to put your goods into your own container. This can reduce your packaging by a massive amount.

Me: I haven't done this yet, but I don't use a butcher/deli/fish market very often. I do buy stuff from the bulk bins and have been starting to save the plastic bags I get from there to reuse for the stuff later.

Tip 3).  Buy in bulk
If, for example, you buy one 5 litre container of fabric conditioner, the packaging weighs much less than five 1 litre containers. You’ll have to trust me on this - I’ve bought the goods and weighed them. I don’t remember the results now, but they were pretty impressive!

Me: I never thought of this before but I do try to buy things in larger containers b/c it's also a better value. So I guess I'll try harder now. And again, I've started using the bulk bins at the grocery store, so I think that helps too!

Tip 4).  Refills
Refills are not as popular now as they used to be, but they do exist. In ASDA some stores refill their own label fabric conditioner. Bio D and Ecover have refill stations around the country at health food stores and organic farm shops.

Me: I had no idea that this existed and I don't know if there are any around here, but it may be worth researching sometime. Has anyone heard of anything like this around the Boulder/Denver area? If so, please share!!

Tip 5). Shop naked
Buy loose goods wherever possible; sign up for a box scheme or use a farmers market. Use a company like LUSH who sell soap and shampoo bars without packaging.

Me. When I first read title of this tip I was like "WHOO-HOO! OH YEAH! Only in Boulder!" However, the author was obviously not implying that *I* shop naked (don't really know how that would help the environment anyway) but that I should buy good w/o packaging. I guess I can say that I do this w/ vegetables since I don't usually get bags to hold them in (unless they're really wet like lettuce or fragile like tomatoes). And I found recently that Ellie's Eco Home Store in boulder sells a 3-pack of mesh veggie bags for about $7.99. Which I definitely intend to buy soon. Also, we do have a Lush in Boulder on Pearl St. and I do love me some soap. Although, if you really get down to it, I could just make my own soap.  And I do also love me some summer farmer's market. CAN'T WAIT TILL SUMMER YEAH!

Tip 6).  Returns
When I was a child, many glass bottles has a 10p deposit on it. Alas this is no longer the case, but you can return your empties to Neals Yard and you’ll get something towards your next purchase. Elin at Nothing Nasty will accept your glass bottles for refilling and give you a huge 20% discount off your next purchase.

Me: This tip makes me think that the author of this post is living in England. Unless America switched its currency and I didn't even notice....Again, I don't know much about doing this around here in America, but it would be worth researching. I do have a friend who makes bath stuff and lotions and she will give you a discount if you return her bottles/jars - check her out at Om Shanti Handicrafts!

Here's the link in case the post title link is too complex for some:

While writing this post I thought of a couple other ways to reduce packaging but haven't had a chance to do any extensive research on them yet. If anyone knows anything about these, again, don't be shy! Post away!

7). Reusable mugs and cups would also be good way to reduce your waste. Also drinking/eating "for here" rather than "to go" at a restaurant. Some places will give you a ceramic mug or ceramic/reusable plastic dishes and silverware. (I want this cup, btw. It's totally cute!! I'm sure you're definitely seeing a trend in me putting cats into every single post?)

8). One thing that I was wondering about is the packaging for children’s toys. My Honey's daughter got a lot of birthday presents this and each one was plastic wrapped in plastic. I would love to find a way to reduce this plastic waste. I’d also be open to the idea of recycling it, because at least that’s better than it going in the garbage. I was thinking Ebay might be a good place for kid’s toys, especially if you’re buying gently used toys. Then your child could still get the benefit of the latest toy and you can feel good about the lack or reduction of plastic you’re receiving. I also heard that it’s possible to make package-less purchases on Amazon (I think the dog bags I bought, while not corn starch, are just packaged in 1 cardboard box). Does anyone know anything about this?

Anyway, I'd love to hear what YOU are doing to reduce your waste (eating less or holding it all day doesn't count!) so please post!


  1. #4) I don't know about detergent refills or anything (though this is an idea I've had as well) but I know if you get your honey at Madhava out in Lyons they'll fill any container you bring in, and you pay only for the honey.

    They're also raising and caring for their bees _right_, so they are helping fight the honeybee problem going on in the US these days.

    #2) is BRILLIANT, thank you!

    #6) Yay thank you!

  2. There are a number recipes for homemade laundry detergent that comes out MUCH cheaper than buying commercial stuff, further reduces packaging waste (you can just re-use the same five-gallon bucket for each new batch), and apparently works just as well as the fancy stuff. Look online for recipes with good reviews, and see if you find one you like.

    I haven't tried it yet, but it's on my to-do list for the end of the semester, when I have a minute to breathe.

  3. I've heard of home-made laundry detergent. I will definitely check that out since I already have experience w/ soap and lotion making. Although, I do so love my Arm & Hammer essentials Mountain Rain brand. I'd probably be willing to give it up if I could make good stuff, though. =)

  4. Thanks so much for coming to our site and mentioning it here - I appreciate it (and yes, I'm in little ol' England; land of pennies and pounds). You're doing brilliantly with your own challenges.
    And go on; shop naked; you'd make quite a statement if you did LOL!