25th November 2016
Food packaging and its impact on our lives, our health, the lives of our descendants and the health and future of our precious planet, particularly plastic packaging, is an important issue and needs a lot more attention paying to it
The problem is, there is just far too much plastic in our lives generally, not just what is wrapped around our food, and it has become impossible to live our lives without it even if we want to.
And what is worrying is that a good deal of this plastic we consider as disposable. We throw it out as rubbish. Out of sight, out of mind with little thought over what then happens to it. If a spoon is made of plastic we use it once and throw it. We do this with all manner of plastic such as yoghurt pots, food bags, bowls and plates. We throw out used pens, protective gloves, bottles and old toys. The list could go on and on.
None of it rots or disintegrates. We recently found a plastic toy buried in our garden from at least 15 years ago when we were doing a bit of landscaping. It was a plastic model of Bart Simpson and was in as good condition as the day it was lost.
Just think about your clothes. Consider what percentage is actually made of plastic such as acrylic or nylon. Tights, fleeces, hats, gloves, knits, blankets, rugs, curtains.
All of this 'plasticness' is a concern. But just here, right now, this being a foody website, let's just talk about food packaging and packaging around kitchen equipment. Some of it is unnecessary. Most of it is excessive in the extreme.
I can remember in the 1960's and beyond, every household had one small metal waste bin in their back garden. This tiny bin was big enough to hold the weeks waste of one family with room to spare
So what has happened that we now need these huge bins on wheels? It is unfair that we the consumers usually get the blame. We are blamed for producing too much waste and not recycling enough, but really the fault is with the retailers and manufacturers.
Shopping used to be done daily with a re-usable shopping bag at local shops. You would go to the green grocer with the bag and he would put newspaper in the bottom of it and pour in your potatoes loose straight from the weighing scales and on to the paper. Everything else would be given you in paper bags. Mushrooms came in little punnets made of slithers of wood. Some local greengrocers would come once a week with your veg in a cardboard box. (Not halfway across the country as happens now with veg box deliveries) This box, if it wasn't burnt for fuel on the living room fire would rot in the ground.
Now, because our food is on shelves and we help ourselves to it before going to the till, then it has to be hygienically wrapped in plastic because anyone and everyone who is in that shop could possibly handle it. OK fair enough, but is there really the need for the quantity that is actually used.
Another bugbear of mine is the food packaging holding organically produced food . It is always wrapped in plastic. Now this in a way is understandable. Any supermarket needs to differentiate between an organic vegetable and a chemical vegetable. As most of their food is produced using artificial chemicals then they can't sell it loose otherwise customers could be off to the till with the more expensive organic variety and get it for the price of one that is infused with pesticides. What we need to aim for, petition for, and fight for is that organic food should just be called food. It doesn't need the label organic because it is food as it should be. Instead, food produced with artificial fertilisers and pesticides should have the label "chemical" and there should be far less of it and far more good natural food. It's already happening with eggs where cruel eggs have to have the label "from caged hens" So what's stopping us?
Sainsbury's, bless their cotton socks, do sell organic butternut squash with no food packaging - nothing but a sticky label - which is nice of them. They do however also sell a good variety of beans which come in tetra packs. This is so annoying. Which do I do? Buy the nasty chemical ones that come in recyclable almost all natural metal and paper packaging? Or the nice stuff stuffed into nasty packaging? What a dilemma. I feel a letter coming on. I feel a dozen letters coming on.
I wish I had more time for this
There are some small beginnings however. Like the government incentive to reduce plastic carrier bag waste by making fee bags illegal, and this encouraging news about M & S
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