BEC #006 – Reducing Packaging

Forgive me, dear readers, for popping in an idea of my own here. I did this while out (shopping!) and with no other ideas on hand. From now on, I’m going to keep a list of upcoming ideas with me so I can do them on the fly.

But I believe this is a great way to encourage better practices in the community! I recommend just doing it bit by bit. I think you’ll start to learn what suits you personally as you go.

I have so many more ideas to get started on now. Keep ‘em coming!

- Rebecca Clements


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I love this idea, I remember seeing a bunch of those “reusable environment friendly bags” but I can’t recall ever seeing someone use one. Most of the time I don’t buy more than I can carry in my hands so I won’t get a bag at all most places, but I don’t buy my own food that often, but next time I do I’m for sure bringing my own bags for everything.
I wish people would do this at restaurants, or at least that a company could make something more environmentally conscious than Styrofoam boxes.

In my current place of residence, we are charged 5 cents per plastic bag to encourage reuse or the use of cloth bags. As far as I can tell, it works great! The only problem is that there are a lot of people who forget their bags.

I like the system of charging for bags. And yes, forgetting bags is always going to happen. It can be lessened, but it will always happen.

I rather liked recently when I was at an op shop and I bought a couple of things unplanned, and didn’t have a bag with me. The girl had a stack of cloth bags that they give to people when that happens (in fact, I think she might have said they normally charge $1 for them). I’d felt a bit silly about not having a bag but I was happy I didn’t have the extra guilt of using a plastic bag. Next time I went to that street, I took their bag back to them, which they really appreciated.

No worries about using your own idea- especially since it does have to do with a topic on Shruggenbee. If other people’s ideas triggered the idea to use this idea, well that must count for something.
Also, you know- great comic! Very concise, and it really makes the idea seem easy and attractive, Good job!

You are rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Don’t kid yourself, your minute changes in lifestyle are insignificant. Don’t waste time and effort on small things like this.

That is an interesting hypothesis. Can you back that up with any data?

“powerful scientist”, nice username. :)

I think we all cannot help but worry about that. The impetus to produce data does not necessarily lie on Powerful Scientist’s side.

Some data, though.

Almost 1/3 of the US’ waste is packaging.

Different sources say between 1/10 and 1/3 of the US’ waste is recycled. Yay!

… that’s all I could find? I was hoping to find out how much of the 1/3 that is packaging was of the type addressed in this comic. Given all the shipping that happens I wouldn’t be surprised if a huge percentage were boxes which the consumer never sees.

It can be hard to realise that things like this are making a difference. We’re so overwhelmed by big numbers that it can seem insignificant. But a difference is a difference.

The most powerful aspect to doing things like this is not necessarilly that you are saving some waste, but that you are now an influence on other people. Just one person doing something might help someone else to make that change in time. Maybe lots of people. Countless numbers of people might just see you making that effort, and in some small way, that helps them to eventually make the decision to do something.

All of these things add up, and the way in which we are most powerful and effective is as a community, all together.

Yes, big changes need to happen in big business and industry. But a growing sentiment within a community will be a big part of influencing THOSE decisions too. And change needs to happen both from above and below – grassroots changes are very, very powerful indeed.

In fact, I believe a single person making changes in their life is one of the most impportant and powerful things that can happen. When you start to look, you can see it happening everywhere. :)

I absolutely agree Rebecca. Even if the actual reuse of packaging doesn’t make a huge difference, the fact that others might see what you are doing and be inspired is very significant. Like you say, they might eventually be inspired to start doing it too, but also they will see that someone cares enough to make an effort, and if will come into their own consciousness too.
My family of 3 has managed to get our landfill waste down to only one shopping bag full per week, which is made up of almost 100% plastic packaging. I’ve started keeping those reusable ziplock bags from the supermarket bulk bins in my handbag and find they come in handy when i remember to use them. Thanks for reminding me, I’m going to make a bigger effort now :)

Living in Beijing right now. My girlfriend and i try to carry a tupperware container for leftovers when we go out. …which is a lot, since dining out is cheaper than cooking for yourself. We also use our cloth bags everywhere, from groceries to window shopping. Feels great!

Kevin – I was just going to post this. My cousin mentioned that she brings tupperware with her when she goes out to eat, and I think it’s a great idea! I almost always have leftovers, so I’d be saving a lot of styrofoam!

Rebecca, your new cartoons are some of the coolest things I have seen in a long time, way to combine ‘sweet-ass’ visuals with a common sense approach to vitally important issues!

I find that a lot of people go directly from denial or ignorance -> despair as they learn more about ‘sustainability’ in general and it’s fantastic to see your approach doing the opposite.

Thanks and keep it up!

Rebecca(as well as everyone who submitted their ideas and had them made into comics), you have inspired me to start being more environmentally conscious and friendly and whatnot. I just thought you’d like to know. <3

As everyone has said, this is a great idea and a well-executed comic. :)

Our family tends to find a use for most of the larger containers; often we use them instead of plastic trash bags. Plastic shopping bags do tend to pile up, but there are always businesses willing to take the excess.

Most of the other containers go towards saving leftovers, or tea, or holding pencils (within sight right now are 18 pencil-holding cans… we never get rid of pencils.)

I don’t want to deter from the process, but when it comes to plastics there may be a bit of concern. A lot of the containers created today for packing products are “meant to be short term use for food storage” use cheap more toxic materials that leach into food or beverages with continued use. Especially when the plastic is heated or scratched which can occur during simple dish washing.

Here’s a good site listing information about plastic safety.

And while producers of Bisphenol A will state that they have 40 years worth of research saying that it’s safe, some large governmentally funded organizations are suggesting that the claims are at best uncertain.

And given the potential harm it can do, you’d be surprised where it’ll turn up

I’m ok with moving against plastic bags but those ‘enviro bags’ are a load of crap.
They’re smelly, unhygienic (you can’t wash them) and worst of all they DON’T break down and the dyes to give them those pretty colours? They kill everything in the soil. I still have a bare patch on the back lawn from one that got left there by accident while I was out of the state.

I went and bought a roll of cheap calico from a local art/craft shop and sewed a whole ton of my own bags. Double-lined, machine-washable, nice thick sturdy straps, and they won’t drop things on my toes – there’s some cardboard in the bottom to keep them square. I haven’t figured out an insulated bag for things that need to stay cold yet but I’m working on it. Calico’s basically just cotton so it’s biodegradeable and if they tear they can be repaired or torn up into rags.

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