UNLESS…Plastic Waste Reduction

Packaging generates high volumes of plastic waste. I am trying to buy products that look like the manufacturer is attempting to reduce the use of plastic in how the item is delivered to the consumer.

Shopping for an iPad case is an example. Both manufacturers used a sheet of styrofoam  polyurethane foam matting inside where a piece of recycled cardboard would have served just as well. Neither box indicates if the packaging was made of recycled paper. However, one had a plastic window, the other box had no plastic.

Both iPad cases were manufactured in China; with a disclaimer on the box “Recycling programs for this packaging may not exist in your area.” I can recycle the paper portion, however, the styrofoam cannot be recycled in our city’s recycling program. I will save that to reuse when shipping a package at a later time, and delay entry into the waste cycle.

In this purchase, I made the choice to forego a bit of plastic by purchasing the box without the plastic window. Every little bit helps… including reminding myself to be a critical thinker about product choices and consequences.

This week’s UNLESS… Earth-Friendly Friday theme: Plastic Waste Reduction


  1. It doesn’t make sense, if the iPad itself is out of question. There are millions of useless electronic devices in the world, transporting useless messages. I had to burn my broken HP-printer because there’s no other solution. The savages usually throw their garbage into the rivers.

    1. Hi there, Tom. That’s probably true about useless electronic devices transporting useless messages, however, there are also many that carry enlightening and useful messages. For example, electronic learning platforms help many who would not have access to education go to class. I also see blogs as avenues for useful information and divergent points of view.

      So far as derelict printers and electronics are concerned, there are venues for turning in old equipment for recycling. Our local news broadcasting station hosts recycling events and so do some municipalities. Perhaps that is also true where you live…it would certainly be less harmful to you and the environment to recycle than to burn.

      There is truth in what you say about “savages” throwing garbage into rivers. Once plastics are in the rivers… it’s not long before much of it finds its way to the oceans. What solutions for this problem can you see or suggest for your locale?

      1. There is no regulated garbage-disposal here, everyone has to help himself. We even use plastic instead of glass, because we can burn it. I have to fetch tons of garbage of any kind out of my rice-field irrigation-system each year and the diving-resorts of North Sulawesi already are well known ruined.
        While people in developed countries are trying to change their behaviour, the mayority in whole Asia is doing the opposite, because they all want YOUR living-standard. And that means more and more garbage.
        There’s a simple solution for this: Someone should replace the 250millions of Indonesian with people from Singapore.

        1. Hello Tom-
          Your comments took me to the Internet for some research on sanitation in Indonesia. I’ve scanned through reports from UNICEF, USaid, IRC and have learned a lot about the conditions you refer to in your comments. I appreciate the window you have opened for me to view a topic I’ve not considered before… the availability of toilets, refuse haulers, sanitation systems, etc. in developing countries. The ability to bring sanitation and clean water are riddled with social, economic, political, and environmental issues… that is VERY clear.

          I can see why you mention Singapore as an avenue for change. I’m impressed with the forward thinking of people like Jack Sim who recognize the need for something I know I take for granted… toilets!

          What you have inspired me to find out is much more than I can share in a comment. I have this topic on my brainstorming list of subjects for UNLESS… Earth-friendly challenge ideas. It will be helpful to have your perspective. Will you be willing to share photos and related info in the future?

          you might be interested in following this blog:

          1. Always at your service, Jane. The sanitation-problem is a very interesting one:
            1. The simple Indonesian hole-toilet without the use of paper is highly superior to the western one! I use it for more than 15 years. I’m getting constipation when I’m only seeing the western models. 🙂 
            2. It’s usely very unhealthy because not properly cleaned. That’s not a question of poverty but of an underdeveloped mind – which follows poverty if there’s not enough money for education. But you could also often find behind a pompous house-front a disgusting toilet.
            So not widley spread donation is the key to a change but best education.

  2. This is an issue I’m concerned with too. Once we had a baby we started to notice how much extra packaging there is for most children’s products. So many wire ties, plastic tabs, chunks of styrofoam. It’s for safety I suppose, but we often could not help but buy something we needed that had just as much weight in packing as the product itself. So many kids products end up in the dump too. No one will take a used car seat or baby crib, for fear of legal issues I guess. Many of them end up being thrown out after just a few months use.

    1. What you are observing ties in with what The Daily Blabber commented on “its all about how the product looks in its packaging.” What you’ve noticed, Peter, certainly takes that thought to another front. Marketing for parents and children does go over the top- I was shaking my head in agreement as I read your thoughts having notice the same problem with items my daughter and her husband are acquiring for their new baby. Way too much packaging. They were able to recycle the paper and cardboard, but styrofoam, ties, and tabs are a problem.

      Some of the baby items, if still within current legal code, do end up a resale stores. My daughter belongs to a “mommy’s group” who exchange/share items with each other as one out-grows and hands down to one who is growing…

      Thank you for joining this conversation- perhaps some of the items you mentions could be considered by a resale shop or a mom-to-mom support group.

      1. We use a local consignment store as much as possible, or give to Goodwill. Some items that are still useful Goodwill can not take, such as most toys. I know they are concerned with things like having to try to keep track of if an item has been recalled, or if it is an old toy it might have lead paint.

        It’s an extreme example, but I recently cut up our old crib to use for some woodworking projects rather than throw it in the dump!

        1. Peter, even with our best efforts to reuse items, your reminder that there can be restrictions is a good thing to keep in mind and not be discouraged if we meet up with this obstacle. You are clever to incorporate the old crib in some wood-working projects. Depending on the age of the crib, I imagine the wood could be of surprising quality.

          It’s really nice to see you again. Thank you for taking interest in this challenge.

  3. It doesn’t hurt that Belkin tends to make better, more durable cases. BTW, Technically that isn’t styrofoam, I believe it’s a polyurethane foam they use in their retail products. They use it instead of cardboard, I believe, because cardboard can be crushed, that polyurethane foam can not under normal circumstances. It’s all about how the product looks in its packaging.

    1. Thank you for your help with plastic identification, DB. I will make the correction in the post 🙂

      You make a good point: “it’s all about how the product looks in its packaging.” We’ve come to a point where industry needs to be accountable for the amount of product it uses to get an item into the hands of the consumer. As the landfills and oceans are increasingly pushed to overload, its more and more imperative that “less is more” becomes the norm. I know I’m not stating anything new, or profound… it seems to me, the more we keep these conversations going, the more aware and able we will be to act appropriately to drive the eco-saving actions necessary to preserve Earth’s ability to sustain life on a healthy planet. Looking good in less packaging will be a step in the right direction.

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