By chef and television personality Duff Goldman
I may be known for my passion for elaborate cakes, but a lot of people don’t know that I’m also passionate about reducing my impact on the environment. Whether I’m making a fancy cake or a quick lunch, I always try to lighten my impact on the environment when buying, preparing, and storing my food.
For example, any professional or home chef inevitably winds up generating some packaging waste. But I’ve found that plastics can help me reduce the amount of packaging waste in my kitchen. That’s because packaging made with plastics can deliver more food with less packaging, which benefits the environment.
Wondering how? For one thing, plastics are not only lighter than other materials, they’re strong—which means we can protect food with less material and less weight. Take my favorite recipe for tuna salad, for instance. Plastic jars are so much lighter than glass that we can get six times more mayonnaise from the same weight of packaging. And the same goes for tuna: a plastic pouch and a metal can both deliver five ounces of tuna fish, but the can weighs three and a half times more.
And there’s another reason why packaging weight is a big deal. Transporting food with less packaging weight can dramatically reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. According to a recent study, replacing lightweight plastic packaging with alternative packaging would increase energy use by 80 percent, or the equivalent to the energy from nearly 91 oil supertankers annually. And it would result in a 130 percent increase in global warming potential—equal to adding 15.7 million more cars to our roads every year.
Better yet, plastic packaging keeps getting lighter. Bottled water companies have put their bottles on a serious diet, reducing the amount of plastics used by about two-thirds in just the last few of years. And you can probably think of lots of food packaging that’s switched from heavier materials to plastics, such as ketchup, peanut butter, cream cheese, nuts, dried fruit, salad dressings, pickle relish, and more.
We all can reduce packaging waste even more by remembering to recycle whenever we can. If your home kitchen is anything like mine, you probably have lots of everyday plastic packaging that’s recyclable in most curbside programs—such as beverage bottles, yogurt cups, margarine tubs, milk and juice jugs, condiment bottles, and much more. You can even drop off plastic bags, films, and wraps at participating grocery and retail stores for recycling.
In other words, choosing the right packaging in the first place is a great way to create as little packaging waste as possible in your kitchen, and to reduce other environmental impacts, too. The difference between a heavy jar and a lightweight plastic one might seem small, but it can make a big difference for the environment.
Now that you know more about how to help the environment by choosing the right packaging, click here to download one of my favorite recipes for tuna salad for you try at home.
Also check out my new video for more information on reducing packaging waste in the kitchen.