Weekend Challenge #09 – Get Naked [With Your Food]

Despite how hard I try I’m really struggling to reduce the amount of apparently non-recyclable food packaging that I throw away each week. I feel bad every time I do it. But now, thanks to getting into the zone with this week’s WED posts, I think I’ve cracked it…

In part #06, the final installment of our World Environment Day 2013  ‘Think.Eat.Save’ theme we look at the environmental impact of food packaging, with the added spinoff that we can amp up on our health as well.

So what do I mean by ‘having cracked it’? Well, like all good problem solving, sometimes the best answer approaches the problem at a tangent. Rather than try to maximise what we recycle with food packaging – focus on our health instead. When we focus on increasing the portion of ‘naked food’ in our diet, the packaging decreases all on its own. No effort.

Naked Food is in essence natural produce that hasn’t been tampered with, processed or packaged – no chemicals and no genetic shenanigans… what our grandparents used to call ‘food’ ; >  Have a look at a cool site called ‘Jane Cooks’ – a Sydney local who’s doing some cool things in encouraging people to ‘go naked’. Worth a read and full of good tips.

The infographic below is a great re-cap on some of the key food-waste issues I’ve covered over the past week . Australian-centric, but typical of western consumers around the world… You’ll need to click the image if you want to see the whole thing [from ‘Lunchalot’];

food waste infographic01

So how do we crunch down on this packaging issue?

Here are my top 6 tips;

  1. Get the naked food thing going. It’s just the same attitude as reducing a building’s energy consumption – by reducing the demand first;
  2. Avoid over packaging; try to steer away from multi-layered packaging. I’m not necessarily saying ‘no packaging at all’ – some packaging ironically helps us reduce food waste. And bring your own coffee cup.
  3. Select packaging that is made from post-consumer recycled content [as with buildings, so with packaging];
  4. Select recyclable packaging; look for the numbers on the packet – no numbers means no deal. My four-and-a-half year old can read them now, so let’s get with the program. In Australia, Coles supermarkets now collect your plastic bags and flexible plastics and turn them into furniture – check out Redcycle.
  5. Recycle all of the waste; if you’ve followed the above tips, you shouldn’t have much, if any, non-recyclable packaging to deal with.
  6. Get worms; they eat not only food scraps but food-contaminated paper, cardboard and other plant-based packaging as well – the stuff we’re not supposed to put into the recycling bins.

So our weekend challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to have a whole day of nakedness – only have meals that use natural un-processed foods. I’m not advocating that you live this way forevermore – just give it a try for a day. And I didn’t say you couldn’t have a glass of red whilst you cook… and if this isn’t challenging enough, be a Locavore and find your local farmers market, make sure it’s organic, and tone down on [or avoid] the meat.

So, what a week – we’ve covered a lot of issues around food and its impact on people and planet. There’s a lot to do, and some awesome opportunities for us to reduce our footprints, save some cash and improve our health. Let’s dig in and get to it!

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