Packaging Labels: You can’t always believe what you read

Day 175 – When it comes to being an informed consumer, it can feel like a full time job. Countless labels to read and information scrolled out over packaging can get to be a little overwhelming. Thankfully, the people over at Earth911 has taken the time to let us know what we should be reading and what information is important to know.

Here are a few labels to consider when shopping.

  1. The expiration or sell-by-dates on packaging – Unless it’s deli meat, soft cheeses or infant formula, many food items are still good after the expiration date. Throwing out perfectly good food is a serious problem in this country. Do a little investigating before you start tossing out food. You may be surprised to find that there is nothing wrong with it.
  2. Certified labels vs. generic terms – On Day 74, I listed numerous labels that could be trusted on your food and products. They were items with certifications that met a variety of different standards. Unfortunately, many manufacturers use words like “natural” or “sustainable”. More times than not this a form of greenwashing. They make you think their product is environmentally friendly, when in fact it is not.
  3. Packaging without recycling symbols – On Day 127, I tried to make sense of all the numbers and symbols found on packaging and explain if they could be recycled. Sadly, some manufacturers do not put any symbols on their products making it very difficult to know if it can be recycled. If you have packaging without a number/symbol ask questions before throwing it away. Don’t assume it can not be recycled.
  4. Try to purchase items that are easily identified as being recyclable – When it comes to aluminum, glass, tin cans, cardboard and paper, we can all agree that these items are easily identified as being recyclable. When we get into the plastics it becomes a guessing game at times. Ways to avoid this problem is to avoid purchasing products in plastic. If you can not avoid plastic, than look for companies that use the How2Recycle label. They have taken out the guess work by using clear instructions on their labels on how to recycle the packaging. They include information on preparing a package for effective recycling; how widely recycling is available for the type of package; which category of material the package belongs to; and which part of the package the symbol refers to.

So, the next time you’re in the grocery store think about the items you are purchasing. Do you have a plan for that packaging when it’s empty? Do you know if it can be recycled? Or will it end up in the landfill? These are all questions we should be asking and we should be supporting companies that are helping us navigate the tricky situation of recyclability.

Tomorrow, hydroponics in your home.

Hive: Sustainable grocery shopping made easy

Day 75 – I don’t know about you, but there have been plenty trips to the grocery store where I end up spending upwards of $60 and have purchased nothing but crap food. You know those trips. The kids need some snacks in the house, so you make a quick stop. However, you went while you were hungry. So, now the cart has more items than you were expecting to purchase and the nutritional value of those items is very questionable. Yep, not my best motherly moments.

As Valentine’s Day was approaching, I thought it would be the perfect time to purchase a few items form Hive. Hive was one of many online companies I was coming across while searching the internet for suggestions on how to be greener. I thought I could use Valentine’s Day to try out some new sweet treats for the kids, while feeling good about my purchases.

Hive does the homework so you don’t have to. They’re taste-testing and quality-checking everything. They also have standards that need to be met in order for a food to become a Hive Brand. They look at (1) ingredient integrity (2) low carbon footprint (3) recyclable packaging and (4) committed to social good.

I would never consider doing my entire grocery shopping on Hive. It would be way too expensive. However, it has been a nice option when looking for treats for an upcoming holiday (like Valentine’s Day and the upcoming Easter holiday). We have also liked using the site as a way of trying new things. I figured if we found something we loved, I could try to see if we could find it locally.

A few other great things about Hive:

  1. The information they give you about each product they sell is detailed and informative. You will not be questioning what you are eating.
  2. The information they give about each company that sells product on their website is insightful and written in away that is easy to understand. They give summaries on each company and describes how that company is helping make the planet a better place.
  3. After opening an account, they keep track of your purchases and how those purchases are making a difference.

Just after two purchases, I am already making an impact.

Hive’s key causes are:

I would hope that these are causes we could all care about.

So, the next time you’re in need of a few snacks in the house or want to try out some new products, plan ahead and give companies like Hive a try. It’s food that is good for you and good for many others, as well.

Tomorrow, green is one of my favorite colors.

Saving the Planet One Pizza at a Time

Day 41 – Yesterday was National Pizza Day! Yes, the day we celebrate pizza and all its deliciousness. Hopefully, you were able to enjoy a slice or two. For centuries, people have been eating pizza in countless varieties, but I bet many of them didn’t think about how pizza could save the planet.

Picture compliments of Pillsbury.com

One easy way pizza can help the planet is by going meatless. By adding vegetables and fruit (I’m a big fan of pineapple pizza, without ham) to your pizza instead of pepperoni or sausage, you can reduce your meat consumption. On Day 15, I posted how reducing your meat consumption can help the planet, by reducing greenhouse gases. So, the next time you’re taking a bite out of your veggie pizza, give yourself a pat on the back.

A second way pizza is helping the planet is by offering compostable packaging. Not too many take out foods provide environmentally friendly packaging. However, the box your pizza arrives in is completely compostable. On the occasions we order out for pizza, I am able to place the pizza box (in smaller pieces) in our commercial compost bin that is picked up on a weekly basis. And since pizza tastes good even on the second and third day, there is absolutely no waste. If you don’t compost (you really should) that box is recyclable. Make sure you only put the clean sections of the box in the recycle container. They do not want your greasy parts.

Another way pizza is saving the planet is by being an incentive. At the Teleport Hotel in Amsterdam, guests are rewarded for not having their room clean while staying multiple nights. If they are staying more than 2 nights and don’t need their room cleaned, they are rewarded with a free pizza. In one month 45 pizzas were given out. That is 45 rooms that did not need to use cleaning products or have sheets washed and dried. That is a huge savings for the hotel and fo the planet.

I’m sure there are many other ways that pizza is saving the planet, but I think you get the idea. This simple meal with a big impact should be on your meal menu at least two or three times a month!

Tomorrow, reusable makeup pads helping reduce the need for cotton pads.