We are told to avoid sweating the small stuff. But we say no, sweat the small stuff all you like. The small stuff cumulatively becomes big stuff. Recent statistics show that the average UK household produces around 1 tonne of plastic food packaging waste per year.
That’s roughly the weight of a giraffe, a walrus or a baleen whale’s testicle - puts things in perspective, right?
In a utopian world, we would carry out our lives packaging and waste-free. Back in 2016, Brooklynite Lauren Singer embraced the zero-waste lifestyle and set herself a target to condense 4-years’ worth of packaging waste in a mason jar. She did it and we tip our cap to her, but even those with the very best intentions would struggle to carry out this pledge in amongst hectic daily living. We just need to be smarter about the packaging choices we make.
We can’t slam packaging and reject it all together. Food packaging has a myriad of usages: it seals in freshness, guarantees that products are tamper-free, and for brands, it provides a handy backdrop for marketing and branding - it’s a canvas to educate the buyer about the product. There’s no denying that packaging is not only a necessity but for us, there’s no argument to use chemical-laden plastic options when, for the most part, we have environmentally-sound options at our fingertips.
The Joys of Glass.
Glass is chemically inactive and straightforward (it is essentially sand, soda ash and limestone) and keeps products fresh without plastic films and barriers. It is also highly recyclable - cullet (scrap glass), is a key production ingredient for new glass and never loses its strength and integrity. We’re big fans of glass and that’s why we made a very clear choice as an ethically conscious brand to package all of our food and beverage products with glass.
We are very aware that sometimes plastic has to be used for practical reasons. Until we can find a suitable alternative, for now, we use plastic air shock packaging to protect our glass products during shipping. We are reassured by the fact that this type of packaging produces the least volume of waste versus other alternatives, and thankfully, we know that this plastic is 100% recyclable too.
We understand the plight that businesses face when making decisions from both a practical and an ethical perspective. What matters is that brands are conscious of the choices made and that they offer complete transparency to the consumer as to why these decisions have been made.
Health Concerns Over Plastic Food Packaging.
If you've had to fight through layer upon layer of plastic packaging to get to your food you won't be surprised to hear it can raise your blood pressure - but according to this study by Harvard University, it's the chemicals used in the packaging rather than the effort involved, that's to blame. Glass, unlike plastic, does not contain any harmful chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, PVC or polycarbonate. So, nothing can leach into what you’re consuming from products packaged in glass.
Upcycling Glass Packaging.
In addition to not having to worry about the leaching of toxic chemicals from a petroleum-derived product, glass is simply sturdier and stands up to the test of time. Our Loving Foods family have shared feedback that they reuse our glass bottles and jars over and over and over again, some in beautifully creative ways. Glass quite literally is timeless.
The glimmer of shine on a freshly washed jar sitting on a sunny windowsill is enough to spark romantic nostalgia in even the most left-brained of folk, wouldn’t you agree?
Unicorn Grocery, an ethical cooperative based in Chorlton, Manchester, has an area by the tills where customers can take, borrow and leave their glass packaging for others. It’s this forward-thinking (among a plethora of other positive reasons) why we chose them as one of our stockists. Like we said earlier, it’s these conscious decisions that on a larger scale, can make the change that we desire.
A Green Future: UK Government’s 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment.
Only last week (Jan 2018), the UK government has set out a 25-year strategy on plastic with plans to tax single-use plastic packaging and assist supermarkets to create plastic-free aisles. The government are committed to eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042 and under this revolutionary pledge, waste such as the carrier bags, food packaging and disposable plastic straws that litter the country and pollute the seas would be abolished.
We’re eager to see the steps that the government is going to take to put these ambitious plans into action. Some environmental activists argue that this is “too little, too late”, however as eternal optimists, we’re positive that this is a step in the right direction for educating businesses and consumers, that less is more in the world of packaging.
What can I do to reduce my plastic footprint?
We’re so happy you asked! If this piece hasn’t inspired you in terms of health and environmental benefits, we don’t know what will. Here are 3 actionable steps you can make as a conscious consumer to reduce the blight of plastic packaging on our environment, and our bodies:
Tip 1: Try to purchase products that are loose rather than pre-packaged.
We’re talking fruit, grains, vegetables, dairy - there really is no limit to what you can buy sans plastic packaging. All you have to think is ‘Buy Local’. Artisanal businesses understand the impact (and cost) of wasteful plastic packaging so they look down the generations for inspiration. Simple wrapping such as paper bags and glass for loose, liquid products is what our grandparents and their grandparents lived by - and you can too.
Tip 2: Minimise the amount of packaging you purchase by refusing carrier bags or wrappings where possible.
Founded on a meticulous understanding of science and a desire for sustainability and matched with an equally impressive aesthetic, Swedish brand Tomorrow Machine knows this all too well. They were one of the first brands to brand and sell beeswax food wrap. A simple concept which ensures the longevity of food with natural substances. These type of food wrap clings to the product (not in the nasty, sweaty clingfilm way) and is ideal for holding together a sandwich or protecting a muffin. You can have a go at making your own, this is a super guide from myhealthygreenfamily.com.
It goes without saying that ethical consumers have shunned plastic carriers for years. Now mainstream due to the plastic-carrier tax, it’s great to see that consumers across the generations are opting for their trusty jiffy or tote bag when they shop. Long may this continue.
Tip 3: Choose Glass.
If you didn’t pick up on this already, we truly are advocates for glass packaging. When you’re next shopping, online or off, we implore you to think about choosing brands that support glass over plastic. Think of yours and your family’s health, the positive step towards helping the environment and, hedonistically, you should think about the taste too! Food products packaged in glass seal in every ounce of flavour, for longer, what’s not to love about that?
Let’s Start a Glass-Packaging Revolution!
If we’ve sparked a pro-glass advocate in you, please let us know! Have you been supporting glass over plastic packaging for quite some time and have some tips for our readers, let us know! Let’s start the conversation and let’s take steps together towards plastic-free, waste-free lifestyle for all.