'Just say no' to Styrofoam

'Just say no' to Styrofoam

Styrofoam food packaging. So easy to take home, so few options but the garbage. What has made the biggest difference in our house is to refuse it in the first place. Since the Saskatoon's blue cart does not take Styrofoam, I  have even more incentive. Here are the top sources of Styrofoam food packaging that I try to I avoid.

Meat trays – Frozen meat is almost never packed with Styrofoam and is far less likely to go bad and become food waste! I buy all my meat frozen, mostly from local producers. We buy in bulk which saves on cost. Red meat generally comes wrapped in paper. Be careful that it is not ‘waxed’ butcher paper which is actually lined with plastic and not recyclable or compostable. Ask your meat producer to use natural kraft paper instead.

Baking trays – I hate to sound Martha Stewart here, but the best way to avoid cookie trays is to bake your own. If you can’t, try purchasing from a bakery and requesting paper packaging to recycle or compost, or bringing your own container if that’s allowed. Grocery store bakeries are notorious for overpackaging their baking, and the nutritional quality of them is … atrocious? You are much better off in so many ways to not even eat cookies. But as I type this, I know it will not happen in my house. So baking it is.

Produce trays – many types of produce from mini cucumbers to mushrooms come pre-packed on Styrofoam. I look for bulk cases where I can pick my own and use a cloth produce bag. If your favorite grocery store doesn’t offer unpackaged produce – ask to speak to the manager (or send them a letter if you’re shy). Change can happen, but not unless customers ask for it!

Egg cartons – buying local eggs is the best option for avoiding Styrofoam egg cartons. We buy from local egg producers that sell fresh eggs in reused cartons and then take the cartons back. If you don’t live near a farmer’s market, try Kijiji or facebook to look for egg producers near you. It is a booming small scale business in Saskatchewan so it shouldn’t be a long search. Another option is to purchase eggs in paper cartons and save them for reuse or recycling.

Leftover/take out containers – cooking everything at home helps, but that’s easier said than done some days. Here is what we do: we will dine-in instead of getting delivery or take out, and take a reusable food container with us for leftovers.

Smoothie cups – we like smoothies in our house so I feel like this deserves special mention. We really like a certain smoothie chain that uses Styrofoam cups; but that chain also has reusable smoothie cups available. We purchased a couple. Sometimes we don’t have one with us when we are while we are out and someone wants a smoothie. Perhaps I will keep one in a bag in the car so there are fewer excuses!

Even with all of these reduction strategies in place we still inherit a reasonable volume of Styrofoam. We save it to take to a recycler in Regina when we go down there. What about you? Have you kept track of how much Styrofoam finds its way into your house? Do you have any strategies you use to avoid it?