Green Holiday Tip #5: Buy the Product, Not the Packaging

The Environmental Center

On average, 10 percent of what we pay for a product goes towards the packaging…often that same packaging that maybe persuades us to buy that product over another, and then often enough ends up in the garbage as soon as we get home.

By The Numbers

According to the EPA, of the 250 million tons of the items disposed in 2010, 30.3% are categorized as containers and packaging.  Of that 75 plus million tons (remember that’s 2000 pounds per ton), almost half is recovered through recycling.  Cardboard and metal make up the bulk of that as they are easily recycled in most places, but only a small portion goes to plastics, as the bulk of the plastic we use each day is not recyclable.

Shop Smart

As you shop this holiday, whether for food or gifts, keep packaging in mind and how it influences your purchasing decisions.  Keep in mind that most companies utilize packaging for the ultimate goal of getting you to buy it.  Companies that value the triple bottom line of sustainability will be sure to package their products in packaging that is minimal, reusable, easily recyclable, or at least made from recycled content material.

So what kinds of packaging are recyclable here?

Here is a quick list of the common types of packaging that can be recycled in Deschutes County, either through your curbside recycling or through drop off recycling, and the ones that cannot.


  • Cardboard (boxes)
  • Paperboard (often this is inserted in plastic blister packaging)
  • Metal
  • Wrapping paper


  • Plastic blister packaging
  • Plastic clamshells and party platters
  • Metallic (foil) wrapping paper
  • Plastic disposable ribbons
  • Plastic Film (though you can recycle all plastic film with your plastic bag recycling at the kiosks you see in the entryway of most grocery stores).

Shop smart this holiday season and check out the Reuser/Recycler search function on the homepage of the Rethink Waste Guide to seek out options for your holiday waste if you don’t prevent it at the source.

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