Some products come with unnecessary plastic or paper packaging for aesthetic and advertising purposes, and the packaging usually end up as waste. As consumers, you can try to choose products with less or no packaging.
As more companies compete to advertise and promote their brands, they use all forms of media and excessive packaging. These unnecessary advertising and wasteful packaging are used to attract consumers to buy and use more. As Daniel Imhoff quotes in his book, Paper or Plastic:
“Waste could result from a competitive “arms race” in which one company adopts larger, more elaborate packaging solely to compete with another company’s larger, more elaborate packaging, in the struggle to win the attention of consumers. Producers could misinterpret consumer acceptance of increasing levels of packaging as evidence of a desire for even more.”
Excessive packaging often end up as waste. If the advertising campaigns are successful, more consumers buy and this result in more waste generated – the waste cycle continues.
What Can I Do?
Make a conscious effort to choose products with less packaging. By buying and supporting products with less packaging, you are sending a signal to the companies on the increasing demand of products that have minimal packaging.
“Vote. And I don’t mean voting at a voting booth. Anybody of any age can vote because you vote every day that you pay for something. Every time you lay money down on the counter to buy something, you are saying that I approve of this object. I approve of how it was made, the materials that are in it, and what’s going to happen to it when I no longer need it and throw away.” – Gloria Flora, Director of Sustainable Obtainable Solutions, in the film The 11th Hour
Can you influence companies to reduce their excessive packaging? Nowadays, companies have become increasingly aware of their corporate responsibility to the community and the environment. As a consumer, you can make use of this increasing awareness to feedback or remind companies to be more environmentally friendly and minimise their packaging waste.
You can also support companies that are signatories to the Singapore Packaging Agreement. The voluntary Singapore Packaging Agreement came into effect on 1 July 2007 and companies that signed the Agreement will commit to reduce their packaging waste. Learn more about the Agreement and signatories at this NEA website.