Food packaging is an essential item that we can no longer live without. Packaged food makes our modern need for convenience possible. It keeps produce clean, safe and fresh. It’s also able to supply us with information about the expiration date, the nutritional information, the origin of the item and any information needed about the preparation requirements.
Unfortunately, packaging can be harmful to our environment as well as our health. Food packaging contributes to an immense amount of landfill each year that can last decades longer than the food it was protecting. Packaging consumes natural resources and is harmful to our environment. Packaging is also an area where we are only just discovering the impacts it has on the food we are consuming.
Manufacturers are under significant pressure to create food packaging that keeps up with consumer trends and the way food is distributed. They need to make package solutions that meet many requirements, forcing them to develop packaging that is lighter, cheaper with a very high-performance level. Packaging needs to be innovative, attractive and very practical. But with this pressure to produce packaging to meet our needs comes the risk of packaging our food in materials that could be detrimental to our long-term wellbeing.
Research has finally begun on what chemicals are seeping into food from packaging. Such as dangerous levels of lead in recycled glass drink bottles to recycle paper packaging having harmful chemicals leftover from its original life. It’s an area that requires significant research into the long-term effects on our health and at the moment we don’t have the full picture.
It’s difficult to avoid food packaging, however, there are ways you can minimise it in your day to day life. Below are some ways you can minimise it without too much fuss:
- Drink water from a reusable, stainless steel bottle and use a travel mug for coffee when you can.
- Buy fresh fruit and vegetables, not in packaging and take home in your own reusable bags.
- Grow what you can at home, this is my favourite option!
- Buy in bulk when buying items like rice and pasta and store in your own glass containers.
- Eat seasonally. We have become accustomed to being able to buy and eat summer fruits and vegetables all year round. This means that we are shipping and importing food from around the world to meet our needs, the impact of this need is enormous to our environment and health.
- When cooking or reheating food always remove it from its packaging.
- Cook your own food. Buying pre-cooked food opens up a whole can of worms when it comes to added preservatives, additives and chemicals in the food. But the packaging required to pack, transport and store that food adds another layer of risk that we simply should avoid.
- Buy foods that are in glass jars and containers, we have become so used to light packaging that we often avoid glass because we perceive it to be too heavy.
It seems no matter what area of life we look at there are risks
Our modern existence comes with so many wonderful options but we need to give some thought to how we are going about things. Buying organic fruit and vegetables is amazing but does buying them in cheap disposable packaging cancel out the health benefits? Are we wasting our time?
Try and take it back to the most basic form if you can, when you can. The way we used to buy food. The more we shop like this the more likely we are to change what’s happening. Kick it old school I say!
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