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Package Perfect

By Liz Neroni, Naturalist

Our food comes in a variety of containers. Different materials and sizes, most are produced with “convenience” in mind. Unfortunately, that comes with a cost. The amount of trash people create is astounding—and I wasn’t helping the cause! Grabbing items out of habit, I didn’t really think much about how they were packaged. I was just filling my belly, and my trashcan at the same time.

But then I started to think more and more. Trash polluting water, entangling wildlife, leaching toxins into the ground, piling up in our landfills, floating in our oceans, and ultimately destroying the earth, I and the people I love need, made me really want to change that. I told myself I was going to pay attention to how much waste I was creating, and food was a big part of it.

Below are examples of packaging that can make a big difference. These are some products that I modified in my own home. I don’t necessarily want you to focus on the brands in the pictures. My goal isn’t to bash or praise companies (though I will point that out if there was a specific reason). A lot of these changes were not only good for my mission, but for my health as well. I did have to give some things up, maybe pay a little more on certain items, or simply recognize that there wasn’t a good option in the current market. However, it was important to me to do some digging. Every time I purchase something in a recyclable, reusable, or compostable container, I support the company that is more sustainable, which will drive companies to fulfill the wants of their customers – YOU!  Regardless, I urge you to focus on what you can change, NOT what you cannot. There are many factors that make one decision, but if you try to make this waste-free mindset a priority, then you are doing a good thing!


Apple Sauce! In this case, those one-time-use plastic apple sauce, or fruit cup, containers can be replaced with a jug (#1 or #2 plastic or even better, glass) and a reusable stainless-steel container. It seems like more work, yet it only takes an extra minute or two!




Yogurt! If one person packs yogurt in their lunch every day during the week, those non-recyclable plastic cups really stack up! Same flavor, but the container on the right is made from glass and can be reused or recycled. Plus, no chemicals are being leeched into the yogurt itself when housed in glass vs. plastic.




Tuna! Picking the canned tuna over the pouched tuna is more eco-friendly! The cans can easily be recycled in Delaware County, while the pouch would have to be thrown away.




Coffee! So, here is a shout-out to a company and product I highly recommend. The Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company has organic bird-friendly certified coffee that they sell in a recyclable tin container. The Smithsonian Certification means that the coffee is shade-grown, which promotes biodiverse habitats, sequesters carbon, and fights climate change! It also means that the farmers that grow the coffee are treated fairly. The company doesn’t just make waste-free, eco-friendly coffee, but they also organize local clean-up efforts. If this isn’t for you, then another option is a coffee/tea company that is Rainforest Alliance Certified. If you see a frog symbol on the package- it means that the negative effects on the rainforest to produce that product was limited.


Eggs! Avoiding eggs packaged in plastic or Styrofoam is healthier for you, the environment, and even the chickens! I have noticed the eggs in a cardboard container are overall better but don’t let marketing fool you. Just because they say “Natural” or Cage-free- its not the best option. Look for humane certified eggs that are pasture raised. You can even taste the difference!



Peanut butter! The plastic peanut butter jars are not recyable but the glass ones are! This is because the container is not a bottle or jug. It might add a dollar or so to your grocery bill but it is worth the alternative, espcially if you go through as much peanut butter as we do! Also, take a look at the ingrediants. Not all peanut butters are created equal or remotely healthy. Whether creamy or crunchy, see if you can purchase a glass jarred peanut butter without PALM OIL. This destructive ingrediant has a negative affect on our environment and not buying it would reduce demand.



Soup! On cold dreary days, a nice bowl of soup can really warm the soul. However, the next time you find yourself in the soup isle, make sure to grab a recyclable container.





There are a lot of packaging options out there. Always remember to ask yourself, “What will I do with this after I’m done?” In the end, the perfect package is no packaging at all!

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