We live in times when climate change is on the news several times each week. We hear about the climate emergency and the impending doom with the threat of floods. We see an increasing number of weather events and catastrophic damage. We pat ourselves on the back for building new environmentally friendly skyscrapers, while failing to see them multiply. We burn fossil fuel at an ever-escalating rate and come up with creative ways to penalize consumers for carbon dioxide emissions through tax mechanisms without ever actually reducing emissions. And all the while, we are so focused on the futility of “carbon”, that we are distracted and completely failing as a society to improve on some of the more manageable environmental challenges. Among these is recycling and waste reduction.
I took a pic of the baby food section in the grocery store yesterday. There is a small selection of baby food in recyclable jars, but look at the massive selection in mixed-material pouches which we have absolutely no program in place to recycle. What was wrong with the jars? Oh, I forgot, they are heavier, so more carbon dioxide in transportation and shipping cost. But these are going directly to landfill! I also see milk and juice containers with a plastic spout rather than the traditional cardboard spout that could be formed by the consumer. Mixed-material containers are more difficult to recycle and also generate plastic waste.
As consumers, it may feel as if we don’t have much of a choice when we look on the store shelves. However, we can write to companies who are creating problems for us. We can do an internet search and figure out who the CEO is. We can also write to elected government officials and let them know how we feel. This can help guide policy making. Simple policies enacted by our government can help correct packaging problems and environmental outcomes. A well-worded letter goes a long way.
What if every consumer took one hour to write a letter about a product that is going in the wrong direction in terms of its packaging? In the past, I’ve written to Colgate-Palmolive about their non-recyclable deodorant applicators. They brushed me off with a reply explaining how awesome they are and already doing everything they can. However, I brought the issue to their attention at least and hopefully got them thinking about it.
I’m going to write to “Personnelle Baby” and “Baby Gourmet” to complain about their baby food packaging. “Mott’s” is another company that has switched to the non-recyclable pouches in the adult food isles and will get a similar letter from me. Note that “Heinz” is the only baby food product on the store shelf with traditional recyclable packaging. WTG Heinz! Sadly, Heinz’ loss of market share on this shelf, in comparison to products which are exasperating an environmental problem, is astounding and should be alarming to everyone.
Of course, to some extent, the other power we can exercise as consumers is the ability to refuse to buy products with problematic packaging.