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The ethical shopper: Packaging

New Zealanders consume over 670,000 tonnes of packaging every year, but recycle only about half of it.

Product packaging accounts for 12% of what goes into landfills in New Zealand.

Yet over 95% of us have access to facilities to recycle paper, glass, cans and plastics grades 1 and 2, and 77% of New Zealand councils offer households a kerbside recycling service.

So what can we do to make our lives less packaged?

  • Practice ‘pre-cycling’. Think about what you’re about to buy, and if the packaging can’t be recycled, don’t buy it.
  • Say ‘no’ to plastic bags; bring your own re-usable ones instead.
  • Buy as many items as you can without packaging (like healthy fruit and veges).
  • Buy products packaged in cardboard, paper, glass, cans or type 1 and 2 plastics – these can usually be recycled.
  • Use reusable elasticised plastic wrap when taking a plate or storing food in the fridge.
  • Take your own containers to the butcher – the container can be taken home just as it is, labelled and put in the freezer.
  • Buy your meat and fish in plastic bags rather than meat trays. Meat is the same price per kilo at the supermarket counter.
  • Lunchboxes with partitions eliminate the need to wrap each item in plastic.
  • Buy economy-sized products, concentrates and refills – these give you more product for less packaging.
  • Avoid ‘multi’ packs. Instead of using individual serving pottles of yoghurt, buy one litre tubs of yoghurt and place servings into re-useable containers.
  • Instead of buying freezer bags, use fruit and vege bags from the supermarket.
  • Instead of buying bottles of water, re-use a single bottle and keep it in the fridge.
  • Use your consumer power. If your favourite product has too much packaging, tell the manufacturer!
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle. Check what grades of plastic your council accepts – Aucklanders can now recycle grades 1-7.