03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

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

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.