iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
John DeCock

John DeCock

Posted: October 26, 2009 02:00 PM

Want to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint? Reduce Your Trash Footprint!

What's Your Reaction:

The Product Policy Institute has recently released two new reports that confirm product and packaging waste contribute forty-four percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The reports, produced by the U.S. EPA and the Product Policy Institute, look at both products produced within the U.S. and those that are imported into the U.S. These reports help make the connection between EPR and reducing GHG emissions.

Our appetite for trash is an all-consuming force in our lives.  Most people, given any kind of choice, would not opt for heavy plastic blister-packs to protect their purchases.  Most packaging trash ends up in landfills or the marine environment.  Quoting from a 2008 report prepared by the Ocean Protection Council,

 “Plastic debris in the area north of Hawaii in the Northwest Pacific Gyre has increased 5-fold in the last 10 years.  Similarly, off Japan’s coast, researchers found that floating particles of plastic debris increased 10-fold in 10 years from the 1970's through 1980's, and then 10-fold again every 2-3 years in the 1990's.  In the Southern Ocean, the amount of plastic debris increased 100 times during the early 1990's.  Around the British Isles, surveys have shown a 3- to 4-fold increase in the volume of plastic fibers in seawater from the 1960's to the 1990's.  The increase occurred during a worldwide quadrupling of plastic fiber production. Approximately 80% of the debris comes from land-based sources, particularly trash and plastic litter in urban runoff.”

Making smart consumer choices extends beyond the decision to buy or not to buy based on genuine need and impact.  It involves evaluating packaging as well to ensure that we don’t reward corporate practices that promote the incredibly wasteful packaging practices that have become standard operating procedure for most manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers.   Online retailers can be especially wasteful since they add an additional layer of packaging to every item sold.  Look for purchasing choices that minimize this impact.  Just say no to products in plastic and twist tie bondage.


Follow John DeCock on Twitter: