RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Reduce, reuse, then recycle. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to skip the first two and go straight for the recycling bins. As a result, tons of perfectly good packaging containers get sent to recyclers or landfills, while a bit of cleaning could keep them in use, saving the energy it takes to melt them down and turn them into new containers. Industry is starting to get the hint: The Reusable Packaging Association announced this week that three multinational companies joined its ranks and will start using reusable shipping materials, rather than disposable wooden or plastic pallets. Like them, you’ll usually save money when you choose reusable packaging, either through a lower purchase price or refund, or buy using the package in place of something else that you’d have to buy.
Here are five products to look for that come in reusable containers that don't need to be recycled or landfilled…ever:
|#1: Milk. Milk in glass bottles may seem anachronistic, since most dairies switched to paper cartons in the mid-1950s (and plastic jugs after that), and never looked back. But returnable glass milk bottles are the least energy-intensive packages for milk, according to a life-cycle analysis sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Find a dairy near you that uses refillable bottles at www.localharvest.org. Can’t find one? Go for plastic jugs. They use the second least amount of energy and are easier to recycle than paper cartons, the worst energy users of the three alternatives. Just make sure to recycle the jugs.|