The 4th R is Refuse Plastic Packaging

By Mary Jo Viero 

How can we eat less plastic? Let’s start by refusing to buy food that is unnecessarily packaged in plastic wrap and containers.  

Why is it necessary to wrap corn in plastic?  To charge more? To make it convenient?  If we really stop and think about it, this is such a waste on all levels.  Corn comes in a perfectly good container designed by Mother Nature.  The Styrofoam cannot be recycled and plastic will never go away. What happened to just shucking an ear of corn?  

The next time you are shopping take a look. In many stores, you will be amazed — and maybe sadden — by the abundance of unnecessary food packaging.  Meat, vegetables, fruit, baked goods, water, beverages.  We have become so accustomed to packaging that seems normal to buy six cookies on a Styrofoam plate wrapped in plastic.  The plate and wrap go directly into the garbage, and then to landfill where it last forever; the cookies are gone in a few hours.  

Not only is unnecessary packaging bad for the environment it is bad for our health.  Plastic particles are seeping into the foods we eat and water we drink, and we are ingesting it.  Chemicals in plastic, such as Bisphenol (BPA) and Phthalates, are linked to harmful health effects including various cancers, a weakened immune system, reproductive problems and more.  Choosing foods that are not packaged reduced plastic waste, which is better for the environment and for you.   

Tips for Refusing Plastic: 

Ask butcher to wrap your meat purchase in paper instead of plastic.  

Choose cardboard packaging or paper bags for baked goods.  

Try to avoid plastic water and beverage bottles; invest in a good reusable bottle keep it filled.   

Buy fruit and vegetables wholeand clean and cut them yourself. 

Bring reusable produce bags to the grocery store.  

 

Residential Electronics Recycling 

The Chicago Department of Public Health/Healthy Chicago offers residential electronic recycling at several locations throughout the city, including 2300 W. 52nd St. (3rd Wed. of the month, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and 900 E. 103rd St. (3rd Fri. of the month, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Note: Once the truck is full, materials will not be accepted. Info and complete list of what is accepted www.chicago.gov/hccrf