I found a new recycling symbol, amongst other things

Filed in Blog by on May 19, 2009 6 Comments
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cake in plastic packaging with plastic fork

cake in plastic packaging with plastic fork

We had an interesting trip to our local Budgens this weekend. We’re great fans of our little supermarket. They have friendly, personalised service and are happy to work with local suppliers to ensure fresh, diverse ranges.

We saw three things on our trip – 1 good, 1 not so good and 1 questionable!

The first was a sign on the way in saying that for every one of your own carrier bags you used, Budgens would donate 1p to charity. I love schemes like this as it’s a win for the environment, a win for charity and helps to raise customer awareness of the disposable plastic carrier bag issue.

Once inside the store however, we found some cakes in brittle plastic packaging complete with a disposable plastic fork. For people on the go, no less. It’s a shame if you’re too busy to sit down with a plate and have your afternoon tea or morning coffee break isn’t it? And who needs a fork for a piece of cake anyway? Don’t you just pick it up and poke it in your mouth as quickly as you can, dropping crumbs as you go?

You might remember we came across a similar rogue in Budgens a month or so ago.

The funny thing was, I found Mr Green fondling a couple of pieces of chocolate cheesecake next to the offending item, muttering “These look nice, don’t they?” Then he stopped and realised what he had said.

“Did you hear me?” he asked, “I was thinking this looked nice; but why? It was because of the packaging. And now I look at it, there is more plastic packaging than product.”

So you see; we all fall foul of the marketing psychology that goes into attractive packaging; even if we have been practising zero waste for a year!

We didn’t buy the cheesecake you’ll be pleased to hear!

Last, I came across a recycling symbol I had never noticed before. Whether it’s new or whether I just walk around with my eyes shut half the time, I don’t know.

The recycling symbol was a triangle of arrows with 55% written inside (on a pack of organic cider in a cardboard box). After that I found a product with 80% inside the triangle (a set of plastic baby feeding spoons).

I’ve since learned that it’s a voluntary symbol and the figure inside is a percentage that relates to the amount of packaging that can be recycled.

How helpful is that? None at all, as I wasn’t told which parts of the packaging were recyclable. Just that a percentage of it was!

Oh, but wait! Another source tells me that the number shows the percentage of recycled material contained in the product.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet eh?
But I’m intrigued – which one is right? I’m going for the latter.


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. Sarah says:

    “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet”? Eh? But if it’s on google then it’s true isn’t it?

  2. Hi Mrs G – Plastic forks with packaged up with cheesecake is utterly bonkers. Well spotted! I really don’t get why manufacturers do that…it costs them money and it really isn’t really going to make or break a sale if it’s not included is it? Sometimes consumers are far too molly-coddled when we don’t even need it! I’m surprised with an idea like this they don’t market it as “We supply the fork, so you can have your cake and eat it!”

    Anyhhoooo. That symbol. You’re right. It shows the percentage of recycled materials used to make the packaging. πŸ˜€

  3. Jenny says:

    What a waste of plastic! I’ve seen items like that too. As you say, it doesn’t take much to sit down and eat with your hands. but then again, home made cake taste 100 times better anyway! And less waste

  4. I have become a manic comparison shopper. When I find a product that is a couple of cents less than another but is packaged less sustainable I will opt to spend a little more to save the plastic. I’ve really begun to dislike all the individual packaging such as what you’ve shown. There must be a better way to help those on the run without adding to the piles garbage everywhere.

    As for those pesky little forks, there’s not much that can be done when they’re in the package but I carry two little bamboo sporks in my bag. They are wonderful for replacing plastic when eating out and even in traditional restaurants they are easier for my toddler son to use instead of the large adult forks. Can’t recommend them enough.

  5. Condo Blues says:

    We had a somewhat similar experience involving plastic spoons. My husband recently ran a charity 5K race (he came in 10th I’m happy to say!) after crossing the finish line, there was water and food stations fruit, bread (to replenish carbs), and in this case yogurt – a race sponsor. They were very insistent that my husband take the plastic spoon along with the yogurt pot, even though he said that he planned on eating it later (and all of the packaging we could recycle at home.) So now I have several plastic spoons in plastic wraps sitting in a drawer that I can’t eventually recycle. Any ideas on what to do with them besides the obvious rewash the spoons and reuse them?

  6. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Sarah; it’s becoming a bit like that, isn’t it?!

    Hi Mrs A; good to see you. You’re a wasted talent with your tagline there LOL! and thanks for confirming about the symbol.

    Hi Jenny; welcome to the site. Yes, home made cake tastes better, you can choose what goes into it, it costs less AND produces less waste. What’s not to love!

    Hello Calimama – welcome to the site! I love your stance on this issue and it’s wonderful to meet someone who will pay a little extra to support the environment. We do have to realise how powerful we are as consumers and start using our money to vote.
    Thanks for the recommendation on the sporks; I’ll take a look!

    Hi Condoblues; many congratulations to your husband – what a fabulous achievement! And after that feat he STILL managed to think about the waste from the spoon! I’m not sure about reuse; apart from using a permanent pen on it and using as a marker for the garden. Not very inspiring though I’m afraid! I would just reuse it for its intended purpose until it breaks πŸ™

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