While there are many benefits and advocates of not eating meat, it is undeniable that the overwhelming majority of the world is still consuming it.
Nevertheless, even in eating meat, there are still steps you can take to minimize the overall impact it has on animals and the environment when it relates to Zero Waste. Particularly when it comes to packaging, one of the core principles of Zero Waste is reusing our resources.
By reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills, we are making significant progress for the environment, and this is something you can do regardless of your eating habits.
Thus, we wanted to tackle meat packaging in a zero waste way.
Zero Waste Meat Containers: Buying Food Without Packaging
The first aspect to consider when it comes to packaging is your containers. Whenever you go shopping for your meat, you are probably accustomed to receiving your meat wrapped in some form of to-go wrapping, when you go to the meat counter from the butcher.
Nevertheless, you can simply use glass containers to store your meat instead.
The idea is to reuse containers that you already have for shopping. Glass containers are one of the pillars of reusable products. Particularly mason jars.
You can simply take your jar for the butcher to weigh the meat and place it in your container along with a sticker for the cashier to scan. Make sure, of course, that they do not weigh the jar as well, at the counter.
Mason Jars(or any glass jar) are the perfect Zero Waste containers. Remember, generally speaking, meat is packaged with a lot of disposable materials, so reusable containers are a must in any Zero Waste strategy.
Additionally, another issue could be that any given butcher will refuse to place their meat on your reusable container.
You can try to get around this by making sure to let the butcher know from the start about your intentions in regards to packaging. If this does not work, then you need to find a meat counter around your area or grocery store that is using a system where reusable containers are allowed.
For example, Whole Foods in the United States will allow you to bring your containers to pack the meat in.
Furthermore, as we speak about in this article, mason jars can also be frozen. This is the case of meat, namely, is quite common to freeze as well. Therefore, having these jars is perfect for storage. It allows you to buy meat without a plastic bag.
Now, if you cannot find a butcher or grocery store that will allow you to bring your reusable containers, then you can try and see if they will wrap it in a material that is is not single-use and plastic-free. Moreover, something that can be composted.
Ultimately, the best way to achieve this is to find a farmer’s market instead of your typical supermarket, where you can also buy whatever you need in bulk (and not only meat).
Or, if you happen to live in a big area in terms of population, the chances are that you can find a store specifically designed for people who have reusable containers to do their food shopping.
Do not think of this as so far fetched. If you are in the United States, for example, Trader Joes advocate you using your reusable bag.
So don’t think it is so far fetched to ask a meat butcher to reconsider their packaging situation for your Zero Waste cause.
How Can You Be Zero Waste & Eat Meat?
It is essential here to make a distinction between Zero Waste and eating meat. Eating meat has a significant environmental effect.
For context, consider that the production of grain across the globe for livestock requires almost three times the amount of water that is needed to produce grain feed.
Additionally, animal agriculture is one of the main reasons for animal extinction(1,2). That being said, even if you eat meat, you can still be part of the Zero Waste movement.
We have to remember that Zero Waste is a set of principles at its core, that aims to reduce waste and only dispose of as a last resort. There are plenty of swaps you can make while still eating meat to contribute to a circular economy.
A circular economy refers to an economic system aimed at reducing and eliminating waste by continuing to use resources; it is the alternative to a linear economy.
You can eat meat and contribute to a circular economy, for example, by avoiding using any plastic in regards to your meat.
And, if you ultimately feel like you can get rid of meat altogether, then we suggest you read this post by our Co-Founder on being a Zero Waste Vegan.
Combining veganism with Zero Waste seems like the natural course of action for a lot of people, but don’t feel obliged to take that route. Otherwise, you can also give an attempt to reducing the amount of meat you consume instead of giving it up altogether.
There are plenty of methods for doing this, such as having meatless days, amongst other things, allowing you to balance when you eat meat and still contributing to a healthier planet.
Meat packaging in a Zero Waste way is achievable. Simply keep an eye on your containers, try to reuse glass containers that are already in your pantry, and look for a meat butcher or grocery store that will allow you to use your containers for shopping.
If, for whatever reason, you cannot reuse any of your current containers, then finding glass containers or mason jars should be quite straightforward.
If this is not possible, then make sure your meat is at least packaged in a material that can be composted or reused.
If you have any questions or comments on packaging meat or anything Zero Waste related, please let us know or reach out to us on social media. We love to hear any suggestions.