Today I was Not Knitting I was….

…trying to do my bit to save the planet.

This week several things have happened that have just served to highlight an issue that has been concerning me for quite some time, the issue of over-packaging.

I am a concerned world citizen who tries to do their bit to live my life making as little impact on the environment as I can – I choose to buy my electricity from a green supplier who invests in alternative energy sources, I recycle with zeal and harangue everyone around me to do the same, I practice organic gardening, I buy organic vegetables from a box scheme and I am looking into fitting solar panels. The rest of the world, and big business in particular, doesn’t seem to share my principles and I have become more and more aware of the amount of unneccessary packaging that is used on groceries and a whole range of other consumables.

This week when my shopping arrived from Ocado I was really excited to see that I’d been given a free sample of Green & Blacks chocolate. Now, Green & Blacks is my favourite chocolate and they are sold on an ethical standpoint of fairtrade and organic production. So why was the little 35g bar not only wrapped in the ordinary chocolate wrapper but also enclosed in a huge folded cardboard sleeve?


The sleeve was obviously intended as a marketing tool to look like an envelope from the outside and as you unfolded each leaf another little sentence greeted you to introduce the new chocolate but couldn’t this have been done some other way? They could have printed the details on the Ocado receipt I got where it told me I’d been given a free chocolate bar. It could have been printed on a much smaller card enclosed with the chocolate bar?

This is, of course, the tip of the iceberg in the packaging department but it was the idea of a company with a supposedly ethical ethos doing this that got to me….of course Green & Blacks are now owned by Cadbury Scweppes who are not particularly for their ethics or environmental responsibilty so perhaps it is only to be expected but it got me thinking.

I then went through the rest of my shopping to check what other unneccessary packaging there was – and bear in mind that I am a consumer who chooses products carefully with thought for the environmental impact.

Firstly, the four cartons of apple juice are held together by a cardboard sleeve – why? They are sold as a “four-pack” so they have to be held together don’t they? So why do the supermarket sell them like this, why not just sell me four separate cartons of apple juice? When I checked the price of buying apple juice I got a real shock – a pack of four cartons of apple juice costs £2.79 which is 7p per 100ml but a single carton of apple juice costs 89p or 8.9p per 100ml so the four-pack with the extra packaging and so presumably extra packaging costs is sold for 7.6p more than four individual cartons. Ok, 7.6p isn’t much but why is it sold for more encouraging people to buy the extra packaging? Is it really that much trouble to store four cartons not held together with a cardboard sleeve?

Then there was the ready meal curry we bought, now we don’t often buy ready meals but we were late home and this was the day before my shopping order was delivered so my husband, J, bought an indian meal.

Inside the box were several plastic microwaveable containers and each one had a cardboard sleeve with cooking instructions on it. Why were the cardboard sleeves thought neccessary? It can’t be a marketing idea because they were inside a carboard box and couldn’t be seen. The cooking instructions could easily be printed on the outer box or on a label on the microwaveable dishes. This is why I don’t buy ready meals….

The worst offender for over-packaging has to be children’s toys. We don’t have children but I buy a lot of gifts for friends children and get to see all the packaging they get lumbered with after birthdays and christmas. Why is it thought necessary to package one small doll on a card backing to which it is tied with at least 100 wire ties, inside a plastic shell which is inside a cardboard box?

It’s time that we as consumers started to fight back and let these companies know that we don’t want or need all this packaging they are giving to us. So next time you’re shopping think about what you are buying and how it is packaged.


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