An interesting article on the front page of today's Independent - looking at the (in my opinion rather ridiculous!) amount of packaging waste generated by your average visit to the supermarket...
Reading the comments that have been sent in by Independent readers, it seems I'm not on my own!
Does toothpaste really need to be in a plastic tube AND a cardboard box? Are pizzas better for being packed in a polystyrene tray with a plastic wrapper and a cardboard box?
And although Sainsbury's sell some of their organic fruit and vegetables in compostable trays, the majority of this unneccessary packaging cannot be recycled.
The comments from the supermarkets are interesting as well... "We are committed to making sure packaging is not excessive." (Tesco)... "We already have a target to reduce our packaging..." (Sainsbury's)... "We plan to minimise packaging in the first instance and transfer the remaining packaging to biodegradable." (Waitrose). One reader had commented on the USB memory stick she'd bought from Staples - in a cardboard box, shrink-wrapped, in a plastic display case and a further plastic storage box. Staples declined to comment!
The good news is that the Environment Minister (Ben Bradshaw) and the Secretary of State for the Environment (David Miliband), as well as a number of other politicians, have expressed their concern and are backing the Independent's campaign...
So... what can we do about it?
The politicians suggest that we write to our local councils and the Trading Standards Authority and "shop the shops".
I once wrote to Marks and Spencer, returning some packaging to them that I couldn't recycle, and asking them to dispose of it in an environmentally-friendly manner... I never heard from them... I guess the packaging went to a landfill site...
Some people suggest unwrapping everything you buy in the supermarket, and leaving the packaging at the checkout - I've not been brave enough to do this yet!
Perhaps avoid buying products with unneccessary packaging? Then you end up (assuming you keep shopping in supermarkets) in the situation that I did the other day... Broccoli grown in Lincolnshire in a plastic, cling-film wrapped tray? Or broccoli grown in Kenya in a compostable wrapper? (Interestingly, it was the Kenyan broccoli, and not the Lincolnshire-grown, that was organic!)
So... packaging... food miles... organic... and then when you bring Fairtrade into the equation... What a complicated world we live in these days!!
Leave a comment and let us know about excessive packaging you've experienced... And more importantly, any great ideas you've got for dealing with the problem and getting the supermarkets to change their ways!