Most of our bread and tortillas are in plastic bags, yogurt and sour cream are in plastic tubs, takeout (way more than usual, embarrassingly!) in styrofoam and plastic clamshells, drinks in plastic bottles or aluminum cans, tomatoes and lettuce in clamshells, beer and wine in glass, eggs and milk and Mimicreme in paper cartons. If you opened our pantry, you'd find more paper cartons housing tomato sauces and vegetable broth, glass jars of pickles and salsas, steel cans of beans and corn.
I'm very conscious of the way things are packaged and try to do without extraneous packaging when possible. And we do use cloth grocery bags when we shop, too. Most of the containers found in our fridge are recyclable in our community, although we do have to pay for curbside service. Sadly, paper cartons are not yet included in our recycling here in Wichita. Over 41 million US households currently have access to carton recycling, and that number is on the rise since paperboard cartons are made from renewable materials – more than 70 percent of the carton is made from paper, all from trees from responsibly-managed forests.
Kansas tends to be slow in adopting environmental initiatives, so I'm hoping that we will be able to recycle paperboard in the near future, especially after learning more facts about paper cartons:
- Packaging plays a very important role in keeping food and beverages fresh. The environmental impact of a package is just as important as the contents inside.
- Cartons are recyclable where facilities exist. The paper fiber contained in cartons is valuable. Recycled cartons are used to make products such as tissue, office paper, wall boards and other building materials. To learn if your community accepts cartons for recycling, please visit www.recyclecartons.com or check with your local recycling program. (If paperboard recycling is not available in your area, either, you can try using the Carton Council Mail-In Recycling Program.)
- Cartons are made with renewable energy. More than 50 percent of the energy used to make the paper in Evergreen Packaging’s cartons comes from biomass.
- Responsible forestry promotes new forest growth, and these forests help to diminish greenhouse gases. Forests remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in trees. In the US, due to both increases in the total area of forest land and increases in the carbon stored per acre, an additional 192 million metric tons of carbon are sequestered each year through responsible forest management programs nationwide. This offsets roughly 11% of the country’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of removing almost 135 million passenger vehicles from the nation’s highways.