5 Proven Ways Plastic-Free Packaging Reduces Food Waste

This post has been contributed by Tammy Logan of Gippsland Unwrapped

Based in Gippsland, Tammy combines 20 years of qualifications and work experience in conservation biology, natural resource management, science communication and community engagement with her dairy farming roots to deliver practical sustainable living solutions.

The plastic free and zero waste movements have become very popular! And rightly so, I’ve found the benefits to be far reaching both environmentally and personally. As the primary meal planner, shopper and cook in our household, I have noticed five significant ways that reducing food packaging has led to reduced food waste.

  1. Buying plastic free food means I can buy exactly the amount I need. How often have you noticed that food in the supermarket is packaged in a way that is either too much for your needs or not enough, so you buy another packet and end up with too much again? By shopping with my own bags and containers at places like the butcher, baker, local grocer, bulk foods, and health food store I can get, and pay for, exactly the amount of food I need. This means I’m more likely to eat all of it.
  1. Package free food tends to be fresher which means it lasts longer at home. Often the best places to find package free and plastic free food are the same places that focus on selling local, seasonal food direct from the producer, for example farmers markets, food hubs, vegetable box deliveries, and farm gate stores. Freshly picked food that hasn’t been in transit or storage for weeks lasts longer and gives me more time to use it. It tastes better too.
  1. Growing and cooking more food at home makes you not want to waste it. Many people avoiding packaging start growing and cooking more of their own food. It’s a common experience that when people grow and cook their own food, they feel more invested and less likely to waste it. That’s certainly how I feel after growing and cooking food! Growing food like herbs in pots at the kitchen door is an easy way to reduce food waste. How often have you bought a bunch of fresh herbs in a plastic sleeve and watched it rot in the fridge because all you needed was one tablespoon amount?
  1. No packaging means no use-by dates. No packaging means there are no use-by date stamps telling me when I should throw out my food. Use-by dates and best before dates put fear into us and are a huge reason people throw out perfectly good food. I rely on my senses and a little general knowledge about food hygiene to help me decide if food is edible.
  1. Shopping with containers and bags stops impulse purchasing. Impulse purchasing contributes to food waste. By refusing to use disposable packaging I eliminate my ability to purchase food impulsively. I can only buy the food that I have containers and bags for. I use meal planning and a shopping list to determine which bags and containers I will need to bring with me. A shopping list is also important for making sure I get everything I need, whilst not over-shopping and ending up with wasted food (and therefore wasted money).

So, if reducing food waste is important to you, shopping plastic free is a great way to achieve your goal and reduce your kitchen waste overall. Have you noticed other ways that reducing packaging reduces food waste? Please share in the comments.