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May Challenge – Reduce Food Packaging

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    This month’s challenge is one for everyone to join in: Reduce Food Packaging.

    I know it is a bit early, I thought you all might need some warning to get your strategy together.


    Decisions you make at the point of sale will help you to reduce your impact on the environment, in this case we are aiming to reducing pakaging. This will in turn reduce carbon emissions from producing the packaging in the first place, minimise the resources required to get your food to your table and of course, reduce the need for recycling or landfill when you are finished with the product. At the very least, you should be able to see a difference in the amount of waste in your rubbish bin.


    Some simple ideas for reducing food packaging at the point of sale include:

    * Buy in bulk from a bulk food supplier. This would be the kind of place that has bins of stuff and you fill a bag or box with your required goods. The things that we often buy this way include: flour, grains, beans, dried fruit, nuts, etc, but you can often also get sugar, lollies, chocolates, cereals and much more. If you have a place like this in your area, please post the details here for others.

    * Buy from a specialist: butcher, baker, green grocer, deli. Generally, these types of specialists use only simple packaging and if you ask, you can often take your own containers or bags for them to package your goods

    * Buy from a market: lots of farmers markets are setting up all around the place. You can take your own re-used bags, make your own cloth bags or buy things without bagging them. The market nearest me has fruit and vege, dairy, meat and more and many stall holders are open to the idea of reusing packaging.

    * Buy the largest package possible. This can be done at any supermarket. Generally, it two smaller packages represent more total packaging than one large package.

    * If packaging is unavoidable, go for the least impact: glass jars and bottles can be re-used for storage or preserves, paper and cardboard can be used as mulch, composted, fed to worms or recycled. Plastic and foam are usually the least recyclable or most difficult to recycle, so they would be last on the list of possible packaging. That being said, some things are hard to buy without packaging – eg. cheese, milk.

    * Make your own: by making your own biscuits, yogurt, cheese, beer, cakes, sauces, jams, dips, preserves, and more, you can save on buying packages at all for those items. Hommous, fo example, is very simple to make and 1 kilo of dried beans will make multiple portions of dips without extra packaging.

    What can you do here?

    – You can post your ideas for reducing packaging.

    – You can post your reduction strategies and tell us how you are going.

    – You can post details of markets, good suppliers and shops near you that will help others to reduce their packaging.

    – You can tell us which products are preferable and why.

    Good luck – and have fun!:tup:

    Sorry for the break in transmission with the challenges – sometimes real life gets in the way…

    Eira Clapton

    Great idea!

    I miss the old glass milk bottles – I have so many of those stupid PET milk bottles.


    I’ll be in it. Reading through your list, I’m pleased to see we are already doing many of these things, but there is definately room for improvement. Looking forward to reading other’s ideas on this thread.


    Doing lots already but need to do more!!

    If we have to buy something that has packaging (cosmetics & shoes are a good example) I always unpack the product at the store and tell them to keep the packaging as it is excess to requirements. I then send an email to the company complaining about the excessive packaging – funny – I never get a response, but at least I feel like I’ve done something.:tup:


    im in! this has been bugging me for a while. I do try but i could do better. we do buy some stuff in bulk from mrs flannerys and always buy bulk (large family).

    anyone got an inventive use for chook food bags???


    Lots of the things mentioned here I already do. Chook bags – as protection for trees, shrubs in early stages? To store things that are used rarely? We recycle food scraps – we have a worm farm and compost containers. I, too, look forward to reading of other members’ ideas.


    when buying my veges, I NEVER use the plastic bags either! I just pile them all in the basket, and then separate them at the register. Then, they go into a recycle bag at the end, and home an dinto the crisper! thats it! No plastic there. This is something that I’ve been doing for a while.

    Coles have now stepped up to the plate a little bit, with their environmentally friendly potato and mushroom bags. You can find these hanging from one of those clip strips down the aisles. They arn’t cheap however but you could sneak a peak and make one for yourselves. I have a drawer for my spuds and veges that don’t require chilling, so there’s no need for spud bags, but the mushroom one is a goodie!

    I too have a worm farm, a bokashi bucket and also have my vege garden in the process, so I throw the scraps in there also. 😀 Just gotta keep the birds out of it 😀

    Having said all this, I CAN do some of the other stuff listed here, so will endeavour to seek out places that will sell like this for me.

    Count me IN 😀


    Great challenge, Suz. I’m in too.


    I know that there are patterns online for re-useable sandwich bags, produce bags and obviously shopping bags. I think Judi B makes the cute little produce bags.

    The sandwich packaging is a good idea.


    oooh might have to go google! re-useable sandwhich bags. 😀 Thanks debby-lee


    I’m in too.:tup: Been meaning to make more of an effort, this is the boost I need.

    One problem I have is finding free range chicken that is not packed in those awful plastic trays.

    Does anyone know of anwhere to buy free range without all the excessive packaging?


    for sandwich bag replacement we use the tupperware sandwich boxes or similar. i shop at the local markets for fruit and vegs and have made my own calico fruit and vege bags which i then put in my green shopping bags or nanna trolley.

    i have purchased a pattern for making grocery bags (like the green bags) because i want something stronger and funky looking!

    we have a compost heap, chooks, worm farm.

    we use some of the chook food bags i mentioned earlier so seperate paper recycling and anything we cant run through the shredder and use in the chook house we take it to the tip ourselves and put it in the visy bins (no not the bags). i dont really have much faith in these kerbside recycling schemes run by councils

    Michelle-sm- have you tried your local butcher? Mine has said hes ok with putting meat straight into pyrex containers that i provide with my meat order. Those poly trays (indeed any polystyrene) are an environemental nightmare.


    Hi GirlFriday, unfortunately I have not found a local butcher who sells freerange. I go to the butcher down in Chetwyn St Loganholme who has lovely cheap meat but he doesn’t stock FR chicken.

    I refuse to eat factory farmed chook and after watching Hughs Chicken Run last night it’s quite possible I may end up vegetarian.


    it is so hard to get free range chook,we are lucky as we can buy straight from a farm,i made joesph and his mumma reusable sandwich covers which they love,they carry snacks in little fabric bags

    which are lined with calico and have velcro closure,everything goes in a small lunch fabric bag

    my bil owns his own butcher shop,so we take our own containers for meat to be put it in,till we get home

    we buy our vegies from the local farms,so no plastic bags there

    starting another compost heap,worm farm

    make our own pet food,so as we buy in bulk,no plastic there,feed bags we use for sheltering young plants,i have made floor mats using upholstery weight fabric,with hessian backing,the feed bags (2) are sandwiched in the middle


    I have heaps of ways I really need to improve in this area. I think the first thing I’ll do is make some fruit and vegie bags. I still use the plastic ones from the shops :shy: but I do reuse them quite a few times.

    Secondly I want to buy more in bulk. I’ve found shop in Marrickville that sells nuts and beans etc from big buckets. Someone recommended this place for its flour for breadmaking, it really is so soft when your kneading it. So I bought 2 x 10kg bags of flour. Will have to go back when I work out what else I can use. Only problem is its half an hours drive away.

    Whilst we were there we went into some of the asian grocery stores. They have so much bulk stuff from rice to sugar and oils. Most seemed to be Australian made from the what the packaging says.

    hmm I dont buy much meat mainly chicken or mince. Wonder what the butcher will say if I rock up with my pyrex container ? Worth a try I think – he can only say no and then i’ll have to go someone else.

    Please keep up the suggestions I need as much help as I can get with this challenge!

    Thanks Suzi


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