The New York Times reported on a consumer trend today that may be on the right nutritional track, but the wrong track environmentally. The rise of the 100-calorie snack pack – in everything from beef jerkey to cottage cheese to licorice – indicates a reversal of the “super-size me” trend of the early 2000s. The 100-calorie packs are profitable for companies, which can charge 20% more for the packaged convenience, adding up to a $20 million dollar per year industry.
While the packages are small, the aggregate ecological downside of this trend is large. Multiple small packages, plus a larger box or bag to contain them all creates more waste, and is a step backwards in materials efficiency. Consumers are essentially paying more for less product (which they want) and more waste (which has no value). As the article points out, the irony is that buying one large bag and measuring out single servings would provide more product for the dollar – and it would also reduce packaging waste.
It’s simple and quick to measure out your own serving sized snack packs. Just take a look at the serving size information found on the nutrition label. If a serving is given as a number of pieces (ex. serving size: 20 pieces), count out that many pieces into a graduated measuring cup. Look to see if the number that you’ve counted comes to 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, etc., and measure that amount for the rest of your servings instead of counting. If the serving size is given as a measurement, then simply measure that amount. If you’re fixing a snack to be gobbled up immediately, eat out of a re-usable dish. If the snack is for later or lunch boxes, use a reusable container or a baggie that can be rinsed out for re-use.
And remember, a healthy snack like fruit always trumps a small portion of junk food!
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Via: One Shade Greener