By in Random

"Precycling" is the New Buzzword in Green Trends

Everyone knows what recycling is. Even if you haven't jumped on the "green" bandwagon (and if you haven't, what's the problem? Don't like the planet? Live somewhere else, then), you are no doubt hep to all of the whys and wherefores of recycling-it takes less energy and wastes fewer precious resources like water and fuel to make products of recycled materials instead of raw materials. But what's all this buzz about "precycling"? What is precycling, anyway?

Precycling is simply this: Before you buy a product, think about what will happen to what is left over-namely, the packaging. The goal of precycling is to reduce waste in general by reducing packaging (think buying in bulk and using your own containers, not throwaway packaging, to store your purchases) or by at least choosing recyclable packaging. Choose items packaged minimally, using easily recycled materials like aluminum cans or cardboard. Pay attention to the coding on the bottom of plastic containers and limit your choices to those that are easily recycled-usually number 1 (PETE) and number 2 (HDPE). Squeeze bottles tend to be made of layers of different kind of plastics, so they are very rarely recyclable. Glass jars are a better choice for your mayonnaise and other spreads.

I conducted a survey of foods in my own fridge and pantry to see what was in recyclable packaging and what wasn't. I called the toll-free numbers on some of the products to get clarification on some of the packaging, to praise those companies who had chosen the green route and to fuss at those who hadn't. The following is a sampling of products I had on hand:

Banquet brand frozen entrees -the plastic tray is number 1 (PETE) plastic; that and the cardboard box are easily recycled. I called the toll-free number (1-800-257-5191) to offer ConAgra Foods my praise. The customer service rep to whom I spoke also added that there are no dioxins in the plastic.

Other products in I found in recyclable packaging: Hooray for JIF peanut butter, Kraft grated parmesan cheese, McCormick Seasonings, Lowe's Foods store brand canola oil, Miracle Whip spread-all number 1; Hershey's Cocoa Powder was in number 2 (HDPE); milk jugs are also number 2.

Products that come in tubs, like margarine, tend to be non-recyclable. The tubs containing I Can't Believe it's Not Butter! spread and Food Lion store brand cottage cheese were both number 5 plastic, which is not commonly recycled. Aunt Jemima syrup was also in number 5 plastic. Another product in my kitchen cabinet is Hunt's Snack Pack fat free pudding. I called ConAgra at 1-800-457-4178 (they have different toll-free numbers for different products) to ask why.

The rep consulted her info sheet and reported that the plastic is number 7 - the official reason it's not coded is that the peel-off lid isn't recyclable. So, since the whole container isn't recyclable, it isn't coded. This sounds ridiculous to me, especially since you would certainly peel off the peel-off lid to get to the pudding before you attempted to recycle the packaging. Even if it were coded, of course, number 7 plastic (officially referred to as "OTHER", it is usually a combination of different types) is practically impossible to recycle. I told the very nice girl to pass on the information that the recyclability of the packaging is very important to a lot of us, and that instant pudding is cheaper and comes in a cardboard box!

I hope you eco-minded folks out there might consider doing a survey of your own pantries, and the next time you go shopping for groceries or any other items, think about rewarding companies who have chosen responsibility to the environment in their package design. Please call the toll-free numbers provided on most brand-name packaging or visit the company website. Offer positive feedback and let the good companies know why you will be a loyal customer! Tell the ones who are being naughty that you would consider switching to a different brand if they don't wake up and hug the trees. You will be a precycling expert in no time-keep it green!

Image Credit » by Nemo

You will need an account to comment - feel free to register or login.


JohnRoberts wrote on March 29, 2015, 1:19 PM

There are certain acts I would like to see made law. When I was growing up all beverage containers were mainly glass with aluminum cans slowly catching on. You drank pop from a glass bottle not a can or plastic. Then the switch to plastic because it's cheaper. I don't understand why environmentalist officials aren't pushing for a ban of plastic containers period and return to glass or cardboard beverage containers. Can you imagine the impact on land fills? Costs would go up for corporations (boo hoo) and for consumers but we don't need to be drinking all that soda and beer anyway and perhaps filtering your own water instead of buying. Not to mention the chemicals in plastic affecting the drinks. Here in California, plastic bags are outlawed from being given at food stores almost everywhere but it's okay to bring your own plastic. Plastic bags should have been done away with long ago and recycled paper bags re-instituted. Also I don't understand how one can be an environmentalist greenie yet buy every new tech product as soon as it hits the market and filling the earth with all those old cells, computers and other gizmos made of plastic etc. The way we are going it isn't those items you describe that will drown the planet but a kabillion tossed ipods and cells and last year's Apple products.

Ellis wrote on March 29, 2015, 2:25 PM

Precycling is what one does when walking to the garage to fetch their bike...

Soonerdad3 wrote on March 29, 2015, 2:30 PM

I agree with you, plastic containers of all kinds are one of the most hazardous products on the planet. If these environmentalists really want to show they are interested in making a difference they should be lobbying for the banning on plastic containers.

Kasman wrote on March 29, 2015, 2:42 PM

The trouble with plastics is that they are so convenient, useful, hygienic and cheap that they get used for everything, even those things which would do just as well in another type of recyclable container (like cardboard as you mention). It's a matter of weaning manufacturers off using plastics but since a huge industry has arisen around their manufacture and use (and, let's face it, their recycling) this will be very difficult.

GrannyGee wrote on March 29, 2015, 5:32 PM

You have certainly done your homework! It would be nice for such a program be given to school children ... that way they can grow up very aware. I wish it had been like that when I was young.

Alexandoy wrote on March 29, 2015, 9:29 PM

Come to think of it – recycling and recycling and recycling is just delaying the tons of garbage. What we need to recycle are humans. Waheehee.

cmoneyspinner wrote on March 30, 2015, 5:32 PM

Pre-cycling and recycling. Yeah! Sounds like a viable plan to save the planet! Sharing this to my Pinterest board called PLANET EARTH.

AliCanary wrote on March 30, 2015, 8:19 PM

Thank you so much!

GemOfAGirl wrote on April 26, 2015, 10:34 PM

That's such a bummer about butter that comes in a tub. I like the texture of it so much more than the butter that comes in sticks.

AliCanary wrote on April 26, 2015, 10:48 PM

They ARE! How do you think plastic bags got banned in California? It sounds like you think environmental groups aren't serious if they don't snap their fingers and instantly get legislation passed. Dude, give them some credit!

AliCanary wrote on April 26, 2015, 10:50 PM

The garage??? Oh, horrors! For me, it's a drive to the gym emoticon :winking:

AliCanary wrote on April 26, 2015, 10:52 PM

I do, too, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel, fortunately. Just this year, Greensboro started taking that kind of plastic, so other cities might follow suit. For those areas that don't take tubs, I believe Whole Foods offers recycling of funky plastics at their stores.