7 Simple Ways to Cut down on Packaging when You Shop ...

Finding ways to cut down on packaging is environmentally friendly. Some can, of course, be recycled, but it is best to avoid creating so much in the first place. Some retailers endeavour to minimise the amount of packaging they create, but since not all are as responsible, we, as consumers, need to do our bit. Here are some simple ways to cut down on packaging

1. Buy Loose Produce

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One of the best ways to cut down on packaging is to buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packed. If you buy a lot of fruit and vegetables, you're throwing away a lot of plastic when you buy the pre-packed varieties. Instead of reaching for the packaged fruit, vegetables and salad, choose the loose produce instead. The bonus is that you can examine the fruit carefully and pick the best ones.

2. Don't Bag Everything

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When you do buy loose produce, don't automatically bag everything up. Items like onions or carrots that you're going to peel can be put into the basket without bagging them separately. Save the plastic bags for delicate produce like grapes. You could also request that stores offer paper bags, which can be recycled.

3. Avoid Individually Wrapped Products

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Buying packets that contain a number of individually wrapped items might be convenient if you want to pack them in picnics or lunchboxes. But it creates a lot of garbage, so try to avoid this type of packaging. The same goes for wrapped slices of cheese, mini cereals and anything 'snack-sized'.

4. Look for Larger Sizes

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Not only are small sizes less economical than larger ones, but they also create proportionately more packaging. Wherever possible, buy the larger size. It's only preferable buying the smaller size if you wouldn't use the larger one up before the expiry date.

5. Concentrated Products & Refillables

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Many manufacturers offer concentrated versions of products like detergent. This can really help save on packaging, as they require a much smaller container. If you regularly buy the same brand, liquid soaps often have a refill. So if you already have the pump dispenser you can buy the cheaper refill.

6. Drinks

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The best way to reduce packaging with drinks is to use a refillable bottle. Opt for tap water instead of bottled; you can filter it if you don't care for the taste. Instead of buying small bottles of water, buy a washable bottle and refill it. If your kids take drinks to school, either give them water or fill a washable bottle with another drink.

7. Avoid Shrink-Wrapped Items

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Non-food products that don't need packaging are often shrink-wrapped. This may be done to reduce theft (CDs for example), but it means that you have to dispose of otherwise unnecessary plastic when you get home. Try to pass on non-food products that are shrink-wrapped. Does a book really need to be wrapped in plastic?

Excess packaging isn't just a nuisance to dispose of, it's also a menace to the planet. Write to manufacturers and stores, and demand that they take steps to reduce the amount of packaging on their products. Think of how much plastic and paper we accumulate after unwrapping Christmas presents - why not resolve to reduce that this year? Have you ever bought an item that had a ridiculous amount of packaging?

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