Every week our Super Sustainable Students dive into another sustainability theme and try to live accordingly as best they can. Part 4: a packaging free life!
Every week the Super Sustainable Students dive into another sustainability theme and try to live accordingly as best they can. (Photo and video: Roos van Tongeren)

Every week our Super Sustainable Students dive into another sustainability theme and try to live accordingly as best they can. Part 4: a packaging free life!

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Scroll down for vlog 4.

Over the last few weeks, Bart, Roos, Kim, Julia and Hanne have started to live in a more environmentally friendly fashion by analysing their consumption of food and clothing. This week they are looking into packaging materials. If you avoid packaging altogether, your environmental footprint will drop by 5% to 10%.

It sounds good, but it’s really hard to live without packaging every single day. You get a present, buy some nuts or a meat substitute and yes, everything is packaged in plastic. And then it’s a mystery what type of packaging is damaging to the environment and what not, given that research is sometimes contradictory. What is clear is that plastic and paper are better than glass and tin, and these last two better than stainless steel. At least for single use. A glass jar can be reused and a tin can be recycled.

‘The best packaging is no packaging’

The best packaging is no packaging. Jeroen Schrama used to own a  packaging free shop in Leiden (in Dutch). “The shop was not completely packaging free,” he says, “as the wholesalers packed the products in huge boxes and bags that they did not take back. But it did save a whole lot of small packaging.” He advised consumers to bring their own bags and containers with them.

The TU Delft students are already doing a lot of packaging free things. They bring their own tea mugs, bake their own bread and have a soap dispenser so that they can buy liquid soap in bulk. They separate all their packaging. Still, there are still things they can do. A tea infuser can replace tea bags and take-away meals can be picked up in your own container.

Do you want to live packaging free? Here are some tips!

  1. Buy unpackaged food. Most supermarkets sell pre-packed fresh goods, but the baker, butcher, cheese shop and greengrocer sell unpackaged goods. Don’t forget to bring your own containers!
  2. Shop packaging free. Even nuts and pasta can be bought packaging free. Check out this website (in Dutch) to see where you can shop packaging free near you.
  3. Bring your own containers. Takeaways are happy to fill them up.
  4. Reuse. A cardboard cup from the coffee machine, a bread bag or plastic bottle – just rinse them out, shake them dry and reuse.
  5. Invest. A bread bin, reusable bottle, tea infuser, cloth bag, containers/jars/boxes, soap dispensers, shaving brush, menstruation cups – they can all be reused.
  6. Be critical. What is this package made of? Some drink packets may be cardboard on the outside, but are plastic on the inside.
  7. Avoid double packaging. A tube of toothpaste in a cardboard box, a pack of individually wrapped biscuits. These are all unnecessary.
  8. Buy in bulk. Why not buy one whole bread instead of two halves? And while you’re at it, bring along a cloth bread bag to put it in.