saying no-thanks to packaging

I heard recently that Germans put out just a small bag of garbage because there has been a big push in Germany to reduce packaging.  If you go to a toy store, you might find toys like smurfs and fantasy creatures made in Germany, with far less packaging than comparable toys encased in layers of plastic, twist ties and endless cellophane tape.  Smurf figures have no packaging, and I’ve seen other toys from Germany with minimal and mostly recyclable cardboard packaging.

It’s a window on the possible.

Over the past several months, I looked for ways to avoid unnecessary packaging to reduce garbage volume.  I focused on food packaging.

I usually buy whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, rather than frozen or pre-cut ones–I think that’s healthier anyway.  The fruit and vegetable’s skin is often the only packaging that’s required, and it’s compostable. 

I use re-usable mesh bags for fresh produce.  I often forgo bags altogether:   if I’m just buying three tomatoes, I don’t bother putting them in any bag.

Sometimes stores package vegetables, such as corn on the cob, in styrofoam wrapped in cellophane.  I don’t buy vegetables like that.  Mushrooms are often presented like that, but some stores such as Farm Boy and Loblaws provide paper bags (recyclable!) to package mushrooms yourself.  I find that they keep better that way anyway.

Styrofoam packaging is pretty standard for fresh meat.  But there are exceptions.  Farm Boy sells a line of organic meat that is shrink-wrapped in sturdy plastic without any styrofoam.  So at least the garbage volume is decreased.  At some stores, if you order meat directly from the meat counter, they don’t use styrofoam there either.

How do you avoid packaging with the things you buy?

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