– By Sudha Iyer
Genuine organic produce and food products are a nice buy, takes one thing off your mind – all the pesticide residue. However, selling organic and other “green” products in a non bio degradable styrofoam/ plastic package is quite at odds with the pro-environment and green living concept.
It is difficult to understand the idea behind unnecessary use of plastic/styrofoam to package food (not that it is ok for other products to be stuffed in unnecessary layers of plastic bag/wraps to be shelved in a retail store).
Image source: treehugger.com
How can we justify these pre cut organic fruits being sold in individual packs? Even the most popular organic food stores indulge in this kind of mockery of green issues. They are either ignorant or just don’t care! People involved in planning and execution of product packaging decisions should be educated about the ills of their choices. They need to understand that plastic or styrofoam packaging in aisles in organic food stores DON’T qualify as eco-friendly or as a healthy choice. It’s like an anti-thesis when companies which claim to sell organic produce and products, say even cosmetics, don’t think twice before investing in plastic and other non-eco-friendly packaging material.
Most argue about the strain green packaging would put on the environment…but is it necessary to add more indigestible plastic junk for the planet to bear? Another argument is of the corn/plant based plastic – the amount of money, effort and the resources which go into producing a single corn plastic container is not worth the effort. Also, the time plant based plastic takes to bio-degrade, is not less either.
Things can change only if we as consumers give serious thought to these points while shopping for our groceries and other processed food.
The huge demand for products and produce results in a significant strain on the environment, and then, choosing paper or other eco friendly packaging material adds to the resource consumption patterns. When we assess the pros and cons of going green and remaining economical, the green idea wins- always!
It is necessary to understand one base rule – any polymer based synthetic good produced is never going to decompose or biodegrade. However expensive it may be, earth friendly is the way to go (packaging included). The smallest thing like a plastic lid (cap) on glass bottles and jars matter. If an item on the grocery list is unavoidable, then I ensure that the jar I buy has a metal cap and not a plastic one. It is important to note that choosing steel or metal causes strain on the planet as well. It is just that it is a better trade off. So going minimal with our needs is the key.
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We, as consumers can be more responsible and look for local produce with the least amount of packaging and avoid pre cut plastic wrapped fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Preserved and processed food is not a healthy choice anyway, this is in addition to the plastic such purchases add to our daily garbage.
Remember that each product we try, buy, and consume is a sales figure and a vote of approval for the manufacturing company to mark that product as a “success”. So think before you try out a new product, be it a consumable or other wise…your vote makes a difference. Simple things like making a choice between –
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When sales are impacted, these companies are forced to change their strategy and cater to what we consumers demand…Time and again green cursaders have been mentioning this – we are at a stage where we are only making trade offs. Living green is a long winding road for the civilized world the least we could do is to start making a difference at an individual level.
So the next time you are in a super market aisle, make an intelligent choice and Keep the planet happy!
Sudha Iyer blogs on environmental impact and choices at A Green Crusader @ Work.