‘PREcycling’ Prevents Packaing in the Zero-Waste Home

Reader Contribution by Tammy Taylor
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We’ve all heard it before – it’s important to recycle whenever possible.  You care about this big blue planet we call home so you carefully and dutifully sort your papers and plastics, your glass and your metals. You faithfully lug that recycling bin out to the curb each week (for those that have curbside recycling) and you pat yourself on the back that you’ve just done your part for a cleaner, healthier environment.

And make no mistake, you have!  But remember the three R’s are Reducing, Reusing, and only then Recycling.  Reducing comes first, and that means you bring less into your home to start with. I call it PREcycling. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Reality Check For Excessive Product Packaging

Your new recipe calls for a bell pepper, so you’re doing your grocery shopping for ingredients, and nd then you see it: a two-pack of the most beautiful peppers you’ve ever seen in your life, one red and one yellow, perfectly matched in size and screaming vibrant colors. Oh man, how the sight of it entices you. But what’s this? You notice that those beautiful peppers are sitting on a Styrofoam plate and entombed in several layers of plastic.

Time for a reality check. Step back and think for a moment. Do you really need two peppers anyway?

That bin of bulk bell peppers is right next to this bright two-pack display. Make the choice to pick up that single bell pepper being sold without any wrapping at all and you can really pat yourself on the back for your environmental savvy. You can usually find whatever produce you desire sold in bulk bins, from peppers to beans, apples to pears. Choose to shop from those bulk bins and leave that excessive packaging behind. See how easy that was?

Make it Yourself

Or how about this?  Many years ago I was doing all I could to recycle yet I was dismayed to discover that my favorite yogurt was sold in the type of plastic that was not accepted by my city’s recycling program.  Oh man how it tugged at my heart to be so diligent with my recycling efforts yet be forced to simply throw those yogurt tubs into the trash each week. But what’s a girl to do? I love to enjoy my daily yogurt at breakfast. Then I got to wondering if I couldn’t make my ownHomemade Yogurt in those same convenient single-serve sizes by making it in 1/2-pint glass canning jars.

As it turns out, yes! (And it’s easier than you think)  Now I’m still enjoying healthy yogurt for breakfast but those glass jars holding my yogurt are washed and reused again and again. There you go: Precycling!

Think Outside The Box

So next time you’re in the grocery store considering a purchase, think about PREcycling.  Do you really need a plastic (or paper) bag to hold that tiny purchase or can you just as easily carry it out yourself?  Can you chose the bulk bins for your produce instead of all the shrink-wrapped perfection you’re seeing lining the shelves?  Would it be just as easy to make that item yourself instead of buying it premade with all the associated bold-advertising packaging? Choose PREcycling first, it’s easy and you can be confident that you’ve just made our world just a little bit cleaner.

Tammy Taylorlives and works on a Northeast Texas ranch, where she writes about home cooking, gardening, food preservation, and DIY living on her ~Texas Homesteader~ blog. Connect with Tammy on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. Read all of Tammy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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