Wasteful packaging: Do consumers care?

We encounter waste in our lives every day — from the little things, like kids (or adults!) who don’t want to drink the leftover milk in their cereal bowl once all the Frosted Flakes are gone — to the bigger things, like idling our cars in traffic or the drive-thru lane and wondering why we’re filling up so often.

But I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I see waste without really noticing it. Just the other day, someone pointed out to me that inside our cardboard cereal box, we have a plastic bag to hold the cereal. I’d never even thought about it before — but why both? Plenty of cheaper, store-brand cereals come in a plastic bag only.

Then this weekend, I noticed the chocolate-covered pretzels in my Easter basket (thanks, Mom!) came in a plastic tray, inside a plastic bag, inside a cardboard box. At least one of those has to be overkill, right?

The Los Angeles Times reported a study today, though, that shows the conflict: Consumers may say manufacturers should be more environmentally friendly in their packaging, but they’re not coughing up extra bucks for it — nor do they want to take the extra second or two to see if the packaging they’re buying is recyclable.


According to the article, “Although the percentage of consumers interested in buying products made from recycled materials has increased, from 39 percent in 2009 to 48 percent last year, just 17 percent of consumers say they check a package to see if it could be recycled before buying a product. One-third of respondents say they do not recycle any packaging at all.”

Does the packaging affect which products you choose to buy?

More reading:
– The full article from the Los Angeles Times
– A how-to on buying less packaging
– Last year’s look at the compostable snack bag
– Find out which egg container is the least wasteful

Sarah Chain

I'm an avid reader and book lover living and working in downtown York. Follow me on Twitter at @sarahEchain.

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2 Responses

  1. Jo says:

    I recyle eveything I think is recycable. I get upset with neighbors who I know get a daily paper, who buy tons of water in plastic and who buy plastic gallons of milk, but seldom put out their partially filled reycle bin, yet put out multiple bags of trash every week–for two people!
    I also get upset with plastic packaging that requires a jack hammmer to open!

  2. Sarah says:

    Good point, Jo.
    Maybe it’s just because my family always recycled growing up, but I can’t imagine throwing a soda can or milk jug in the trash! I often find I have more recyclables in the bin than trash in the bag.

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