GreenYour Fish and Seafood
Choose eco-friendly packaging
Choosing to purchase items packaged in bulk, with recycled-content, or in recyclable containers means fewer new materials are used to ship your stuff from the manufacturer to your home. It also saves landfill space and uses valuable post-consumer resources.
How to choose eco-friendly packaging
Choosing eco-friendly packaging means opting for less packaging, recycled-content packaging, and/or recyclable packaging.
- Choose the least-packaged option: As you stare at the myriad choices available to you, pay attention to how much packaging each option uses. If there's no other appreciable difference, pick the one with the least amount of packaging.
- Look for recycled-content packaging: If you flip them over, many packages tell you whether they're made of recycled materials. Look specifically for the phrase "post-consumer" to ensure you're getting something made out of materials collected at recycling centers (and not just industry by-products).
- Locate the recycle symbol: Though most paper, tin, and glass packaging is recyclable, the same isn't true of plastics. Educate yourself about your local recycling center's acceptance policy and try to purchase products packaged in plastics it will take.
Before you buy
Many individually-packaged food products, such as yogurt, aren't packaged in recyclable plastic, which means containers will be sent to the landfill. In many cases, larger plastic containers are recyclable, so opt for them and re-distribute the contents into individual reusable containers when you get home.
Choosing eco-friendly package helps you go green because…
- It reduces the amount of new materials, chemicals, and energy required for packaging.
- It helps decrease the amount of packaging going to landfills by making use of post-consumer waste.
- It saves landfill space and prevents toxic chemicals from entering soil and water.
The amount of recyclable packaging materials thrown away in the US is staggering. In 2006, over 41 million tons of paper products were taken to landfills. In total (before recycling), paper products constituted 34 percent of the total waste stream. That same year, 27.5 million tons of plastic products, 2.6 million tons of aluminum items, and over 10.3 million tons of glass bottles, jars, and other containers were not recycled, ending up in landfills. Plastic bottles are not biodegradable. When they end up as trash in landfills, they stay there for up to 700 years before beginning to decompose.
Recyclable and recycled products are important components of a closed-loop system. Recyclable packaging can be processed into new materials, thereby preventing usable resources from ending up in landfills. Producing materials with recycled content uses post-consumer waste, requires fewer new resources and chemicals, and reduces energy and water consumption. For instance, the production of recycled paper reduces air pollution by 74 percent and water pollution by 35 percent because fewer chemicals are used, including chlorine for bleaching (which produces harmful dioxins).
Recycling aluminum instead of mining and processing virgin ore results in energy savings of up to 95 percent. Recycling plastics can reduce energy consumption by 70 percent, and recycling steel reduces energy consumption by 60 percent. Recycling paper and glass are more energy-intensive, resulting in smaller energy savings of 40 and 30 percent respectively. One recycled plastic bottle conserves enough energy to power a light bulb for up to three hours.
Since some materials like aluminum and glass can be recycled locally over and over indefinitely, the costs of transporting raw materials long distances for manufacturing can be reduced or eliminated as well. Recycling even plays a role in reducing emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases. Recycling programs are estimated to have kept the equivalent of 39 million cars-worth of carbon out of the atmosphere in 2006, saving the equivalent of 10 billion gallons of gasoline.
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2006
- SKS Bottle - Recycle Plastic Containers
- World Centric - Post Consumer Waste, Chlorine Free Recycled Paper
- The Economist - The truth about recycling
- Recycling Guide.org.uk - Recycling facts and figures
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Municipal Solid Waste Basic Facts