A lot of lunchtime conversations at work revolve around food. The other day, we happened to be talking about corn, and whether it was better to use canned corn or frozen corn. Unless you really like corn, this might seem like it’s going to be a boring post, but it’s actually not about corn at all. It’s about plastic.
One of the arguments against frozen corn was actually that it comes in plastic packaging, which is not recyclable, whereas the packaging of canned corn can be recycled. Up until that moment, I hadn’t really thought that other people thought about all that stuff as much as I did. I mean, of course I always knew that other people care about the environment and they think about these things because there exists so much advice out there on how to reduce our use of plastic packaging; but I thought it was just zealous eco-warriors who agonised over these things.
Maybe I just underestimate people in this regard, but a lot of people also don’t seem to be as bothered as I am.
Like I said, this goes beyond corn. When I’m doing grocery shopping, and I’m considering whether or not to buy certain things, I find that I’m really put off by anything with excessive plastic packaging. In particular, I no longer buy muesli bars or similar snacks packaged in plastic as single-serve units. It makes me cringe a little to think of all that plastic casually going into landfill.
And, in my defence, if I had an impression that other people don’t agonise over these things, it is because I see so many people buying and eating this stuff. Some of it’s really delicious, and it’s the kind of thing that’s always going on sale at the supermarket, so the temptation for me is definitely there too, but my frickin’ conscience won’t let me put it in my shopping basket.
I used to quite frequently buy those little “fun size” chocolate bars to bring into work to share (because I feel like it’s nice to have treats like that at work, and because those always go on special at the supermarket too) but I’ve been resisting more and more because each bar is packaged in plastic, and these are then packaged in a larger plastic bag. That’s so much plastic! And they could have easily used a smaller outer bag instead of one that’s only half-full (or just fill the outer bag with more chocolate…?)
I’ll admit, however, that this agonising over plastic hadn’t yet extended to frozen corn and other vegetables until that lunchtime conversation. But at least frozen vegetables are usually packaged so that the bag is sufficiently full, and it takes me so long to get through a bag anyway (unlike single-serve things). And how else are we supposed to package frozen vegetables? What are the alternatives? It’s not always feasible to buy fresh produce.
And who has time to worry about this? It almost seems like such a petty thing to worry about, with so many bigger things to worry about, but it is a small part of a big problem too.
This is probably part of the reason why grocery shopping takes me so long. I should probably just avoid those aisles…
Going back to canned vs frozen corn, in case anyone was wondering, I don’t think we actually reached a consensus that day in the staff tea room. I actually haven’t used canned corn before (unless you count creamed corn, which I wouldn’t count because it’s different), so I can’t really make a judgement here… Feel free to weigh in on this if you feel so inclined.