How one decision can reduce your waste by ten per cent

Filed in Blog by on November 17, 2009 15 Comments
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Choose your packaging wisely!

Choose your packaging wisely!

Over the past few weeks we’ve become a bit slovenly with taking our own reusable containers to the deli counter.

We used to be good at remembering to take our boxes along with our bags to the supermarket, but sometimes new habits take a long time to get in place.

This week I had three different types of cheese in the fridge and being bored one grey afternoon I thought I’d do a little experiment by weighing their plastic packaging.

The ‘darkest green’ pack (not the one sporting the most mould you understand) comes from Budgens. All their own label deli cheeses are wrapped in clingfilm. The total packaging weight was, well, it didn’t register on my scales, so we’ll call it 1 gm for sake of argument.

The ‘light green’ pack was from Lidls. Wrapped in ‘traditional’ (funny what becomes traditional as times change) waxed plastic, the total packaging weight was 3 gms.

The ‘lighter shade of pale’ was from the Co-Op. This posh ‘cracked black pepper’ cheese, comes in rigid posh packaging and weighs a hefty 10 gms.

You can see from this example how simple it is to reduce your landfill waste further even when you’re standing in the shop. Even if you’ve forgotten your reusable container for the deli, you can still do your bit for the environment by making a wise choice. By choosing the Budgens pre wrapped deli cheese over the Co-Op posh cheese, we’ve reduced cheese packaging by ten per cent. When you’re counting the grammes you put into landfill and the amount of space it takes up in your dustbin each week, it makes a difference!

I know it’s easier if you’re after a simple hunk of cheddar; although with the case of Mr Green’s cracked black pepper number there is hope. We’ve seen a mustard seed cheese on the deli counter and next time I shall encourage him to give it a go …

What about you – what teeny, tiny simple choice do you make to reduce your landfill waste?


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 (15)

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  1. Ben says:

    I am learning that these choices are presented to us every day… and it is not necessarily that one or the other is easier… just that our brains have been trained to think one (and usually the most wasteful) is easier. I am trying to retrain my brain.

  2. Ailbhe says:

    Can’t you recycle the waxed paper somewhere?

  3. Levi J Webb says:

    Great writeup, will attempt to think more when it comes to packkaging, have beenn doing so but it is hard to retrain the brain. It’s also worth noting that production methods does register into the equation of environmental impact disregarding land fill considerations for a second. Am unsure if waxed paper is better than plastic in terms of the damage on the environment for that reason.

  4. More cheese Gromit? Sorry, as fans of Wallace and Gromit, it’s the standard and admittedly very sad response to discussions of cheese in our house, especially as our 5 year old is cheddar’s biggest fan. Great blogpost Mrs G. It may be checking whether your local supermarkets allow clingfilm or plastic cheese packaging to be included in their plastic bag collection points. Little T’s favourite is Cathedral City cheddar and we can include that in our local Waitrose plastic bag collection or take it to our Household Waste Recycling Centre, which is great news for the amount that we get through. 😀

  5. Bellen says:

    Apparently, after many requests, our local grocery store changed to recyclable plastic clamshell containers. To avoid the inbetween slices paper I ask for the cheese to be ‘fanned’, an old fashioned idea that used to be the way when cheese was wrapped in paper.

  6. If you buy any cheese from the deli in Sainsbugs the offending plastic wrap states on it that it is type 2 and so can be put in with the plastic bags.

  7. Sarah says:

    That’s the sort of choice we make all the time – glass bottle with metal screw cap for ketchup or squeezy plastic? Plastic bottle for milk, easily and locally recycled, or tetrapak carton?

    We all need to think about these things more.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Ben: Hi Ben, great point! We make so many choices on autopilot. I still do it now, so it takes some brain reprogramming. One step at a time though eh?!

    @Ailbhe: Hi Ailbhe; around here we can’t recycle that sort of paper, unfortunately. Its that very thick stuff; I think it might have some plastic in it too. I’ll contact one of the manufacturers to check though – thanks for the idea.

    @Levi J Webb: Hi Levi, thank you for taking time to comment. Good to see you are making more conscious choices too. You’re right – there is so much to take into consideration; the production methods are a bit of an enigma to many consumers – we just have to do the best we can 🙂

    @Almost Mrs Average: Hi Mrs A – great to see you have packaging solutions over there. Our favoured way to buy it is in our own containers, but alas we often forget them. It would be good if clingfilm could be recycled along with the carrier bags – although it gets a bit whiffy after a while.

    @Bellen: Hi Bellen; I wonder HOW you recycle the clamshell containers – do you have facilities near where you live to do this? I’ve never heard of fanned cheese; I shall look that one up and educate myself 🙂

    @maisie dalziel: Hi Maisie; great tip about Sainsbury’s thank you! We rarely buy cheese from there, but next time I’m in I shall have a nose. There are packaging solutions coming up all the time,

    @Sarah: Hi Sarah, it can be really time consuming, can’t it. And as Levi pointed out, once you take into consideration the production methods and overall carbon footprint, it can leave you none the wiser. Ho hum, at least we’re trying!

  9. LJayne says:

    We’ve switched to having milk delivered in bottles now that I know the milkman does organic that way. Yes I know I can recycle my plastic bottles but I do sometimes wonder what happens to the stuff that is “supposed” to be recycled, iyswim. So doing something like this means I know that the bottles will definitely be reused.

    We’ve also switched to fair trade muesli from Traidcraft. The cardboard outer box and the individual packets are recyclable or usable for storage, craft etc. The plastic inner we use for sandwiches until it falls apart although Traidcraft are apparently switching this for a new compostable/biodegradable liner they’ve just sourced.

    We eat a lot of cheese and because I buy monthly and online we are, for the time being (is that a cop-out?!) stuck with the 3gms light-green style packaging. But I will make more effort on the top up trips that I do in person.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @LJayne: Hi Lesley, switching to milk delivery is a fab, simple step to take to reducing waste. Great to hear about Traid Craft’s plans too; I’ll have to contact them and get the scoop. It sounds like you’re putting some excellent changes in place 🙂

  11. Rick Roberts says:

    Um … skipping the cheese altogether?

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Rick Roberts: Hello Rick; thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
    You’re right – we can choose to skip cheese altogether; we can choose to not buy anything at all, but we try on this site to show how you can still enjoy the trappings of 21st century life while doing your bit for the environment.
    For us, we have the perfect zero waste option for cheese; we take our own containers to the deli counter and they put cheese straight into that. So we can have our cheese and eat it 😉

  13. Fred E. says:

    If you go from 10 grams to 1 gram that is a 90% reduction, you are reducing your waste by ninety percent and wasting only ten percent as much as you would have.

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Fred E.: Well thanks Fred – maths has never been my strong point; I’m just glad I’m doing something and even happier that I’m making more of an impact than I first thought 🙂 Welcome to the site!

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