How Much You Pay Depends on the Package

August 24, 1993

By Michael Jessen

One of the recycling depot's customers mentioned the other day that she has reduced her family's garbage by half over the past year by composting and recycling.

She has only one complaint. She still has garbage and most of it is packaging. Since the average Canadian family discards just under half a tonne of packaging a year, it wasn't surprising to hear her ask what can I do?

To avoid overpacking, the first rule is buy the contents, not the container. Let me illustrate with a shopping trip I made to the drug store to buy bandages for the recycling depot.

Pharmasave plastic bandages in the 100 paper box size cost $4.49 or 4.5 cents per bandage. Elastoplast bandages in the 120 paper box size cost $5.89 or 5 cents per bandage. Twenty Curad bandages packaged in a combination of plastic and paper cost $2.59 or 13 cents per bandage. And a metal or plastic box of 30 bandages cost $3.89 -- also 13 cents per bandage.

Products purchased in easier to recycle single-material packaging instead of multi-material combinations of foil, paper and plastic are not only cheaper to purchase, the hidden disposal cost is less.

You can save two ways when you buy in bulk, choose multi-serving over single-serving packages, use returnable, refillable glass containers, and purchase concentrated products and refill pouches.


All columns archived here are copyright © 1999 by Michael Jessen, all rights reserved. If you wish to print an individual column for your own use, please do so. If you wish to publish any of the columns in either print or electronic format, please contact the author at toenail@netidea.com to arrange appropriate payment.