Zanna Van Dijk with Sustainable Packaging

Guest Blog by – Zanna Van Dijk 

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, over the past few years you will have seen the gripping footage and shocking news stories that have woken so many of us up to the drastic impact packaging materials can have on our environment.

While the abundance of unsustainable packaging materials reaching our oceans or cluttering up landfill can feel more than a little overwhelming, it’s incredible to see people across the world coming together in search of ways to better look after our planet. From those who are taking on ‘zero waste’ lifestyles, to those opening – and shopping in – ‘packaging free’ shops.

And, the good news is, as more and more of us demand better, there’s been a significant movement towards sustainable packaging choices.

Because the reality is that some packaging is essential and necessary. Packaging reduces food waste by extending the shelf life of fresh produce like fruit and vegetables. It also keeps food secure and undamaged as it’s transported to supermarkets around the country.

So how can we all ensure we are making the most sustainable packaging choices?

Firstly, choose the most sustainable packaging materials wherever you can.

Where possible, opt for products wrapped in sustainable packaging, like cardboard packaging. Cardboard is 100% recyclable, and more than 80% of the cardboard we use in the UK is recycled – the best recycling record of any packaging material. Which is exactly why I choose to package my own brand, Stay Wild Swim, in cardboard boxes – we view it as the most sustainable choice we can make.

Take action. Write to your favourite brands and ask them to reconsider their approach to packaging. Could they be sending out parcels in recyclable paper-based materials like cardboard rather than plastic?

Secondly, get recycling right

There’s an awful lot of confusion when it comes to recycling – and it’s easy to see why; the rules and regulations seem to vary from street to street!

When sorting your rubbish/packaging into your bins, separate your recycling into further categories (i.e. plastics, glass, cardboard) if you can as it helps the sorting process.

Wash out any food containers such as tin cans or glass jars as any contamination can disrupt recycling.

Put a cover over your recycling bins – soggy, rained on cardboard is harder to recycle.

Check your local council’s website to see which materials they can and can’t recycle. If you want them to up their recycling game, give them a call!

I firmly believe that every single one of us needs to take positive action by demanding sustainable packaging choices and making a personal commitment to recycling wherever we can. To find out more, take a look at my beginner’s guide to being more eco-friendly.

The power is in our hands, so what steps will you take towards making more sustainable packaging decisions?

Don’t be afraid to start small, what matters is that you start at all.

Zanna Van Dijk

Guest contributor for Beyond the Box