One of the topics of sustainability that gets overlooked is packaging. It amazes me how much totally useless packaging gets added onto everyday products. If you buy a glue stick, it comes with an insert of all of their products, a plastic cover so you can see the item and a cardboard backing. Or you buy a microwaveable dinner; while I understand that they want you to think there is an extra 4 ounces of food in there, there is just no need for the cardboard box with the tray on the inside.
For every ounce of product you purchase, it’s plausable to think we are paying half the price of the item for the packaging and half the materials going into the item you buy are in the packaging. Wait, wait, are you telling me I’m paying for garbage? Yes! You are! But… my friends I am happy to announce there are solutions!

First, when shopping, take the time to look for the products with the least packaging and it goes without saying that fresh fruits and vegetables have none.
Second, look for paper packaging over plastic or metal. Paper is a much more renewable resource than plastic.
Third, the inevitable metal cans and plastic bottles can be recycled now in most states. Look for the rules and regs in your area.
Forth, remember to bring your own bags to bring your groceries home. Those plastic bags (I know it’s been beaten into your skulls) add millions of pounds of waste in the landfills. They can be recycled in most places too. Check your local co-op for a receiving bin.

There is also a wonderful new area of study and production in Graphic Design focusing on green packaging. Here and here are a couple companies who are adding innovation and creativity to the fight for sustainable living.