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One of largest problems I see time and again in the chocolate, candy, bakery industry is over packaging. I'll get a box larger than the largest Priority Mail box from the post office and there will be 2 bars of chocolate inside surrounded by packing material and sometimes packs to help keep it cooler in the summer. Some companies do use recycled, recyclable, or even biodegradable packing materials which helps. But let's stop and think for a moment. Why do you need that much packing materials? You want to keep your products in good shape especially if you are sending them to a reviewer. I get that. But instead of sending just one product why not send several at a time. Any decent food reviewer should have facilities to keep the products they are send in temperature and humidity controlled conditions.
For huge chocolate and candy makers, they should think about sending coupons for free products instead of the products themselves. The companies should know what stores carry their products in the reviewers city or town and they can always ask us to check in stores first to see if we have access to the product. This cuts down on packaging and the added expenses associated with shipping as well. Plus it gives the blogger something else to highlight in text and/or image -- where the average reader could find them. Only a small number of the nearly 300 brands that have sent us products to review since 2009 send out coupons.
I like to reuse containers whenever I can. The labels can be removed from tins but it does take a bit of time and then cleaning. The metal that candy and cookie tins are made from can also be recycled where I live. If the festive design itself cannot be removed I've used tins to hold treats at parties or to hold treats that I give out as gifts. Heck, you could even skip wrapping paper and just put other items into the tins.
Paper boxes and bags often have labels that you can't remove without ripping them or they are printed right on the container. Depending on the material, sometimes I create labels or use stickers to cover that information up. Paper of all types can be recycled where I live but you can also use extra paper wrappers and boxes to ship items or as protective filler; I've done both!
Styrofoam is tricky. Some places recycle it, some do not. If the item was a food one that left stains in the package it can be a challenge to clean. If you can clean the styrofoam or it was stained you can use it in similar ways as you could the paper boxes. Stickers do not adhere very well to styrofoam but you can use permanent markers to make designs. Styrofoam peanuts can be reused and reused. Some of the peanuts these day are made of biodegradable or water soluble materials so you may not need to throw them away depending on your city and county laws.
The trickiest packing material to reuse is plastic. Most of the time you have to cut it off and labels are nearly impossible to remove. Even if you have resealable plastic it can hold onto the scents that were trapped inside for a long time. Which plastics you can recycle varies widely. If I'm making treats I try to use resealable bags that can be washed or aluminum foil that is recyclable where I live.
Education me! Leave me your examples of how to reduce, reuse, and recycle during the holidays.