Food companies are always figuring out better ways to market their products into our mouths and down our throats. These days there is one popular method in particular that I find almost sinister: the snack pack. It’s a seemingly harmless convenience that leaves wastefulness and sloth in its wake.
The snack pack to which I’m referring are small packets of snack food (chips, cookies, crackers) that are designed to contain specific serving amounts. Generally, the amount of food in these packs revolves around calorie counts. They like to boast 50, 90 or 100 calories — the kinds of numbers that look nice on the front of the box. It’s a quality concept, really. Habitual snackers often find that they don’t know when to stop. Instead of having one or two servings, they have 10. Making the right amount of snack food easier to grab than the wrong amount is a decent solution for this problem. However, as a mass market method, it’s excessively unsustainable and irresponsible.
Every snack pack requires a massive amount of packaging. They usually show up on our shelves in the form of half a dozen (non-recyclable) foil bags — each filled with their prescribed amount of snack — stuffed into a cardboard box. I might have less of a problem with snack packs if their packaging was recyclable or irresistibly reusable. Unfortunately, even if the foil were replaced with cardboard, the likelihood is that the snack foods would soil these materials beyond reuse (*hint hint* people who put greasy pizza boxes in the recycling bin) or be too bulky to appeal to consumers.
Instead I suggest going old school. Buy your snacks in their normal, un-segregated packaging and take a little responsibility for your food. Count out your servings as you eat; separate them onto a napkin or a bowl if you really don’t trust yourself to leave full enough alone. If portability is the advantage snack packs afford you, then carry your portions in Tupperware or, better yet, get dish cloths and wrap your snacks in bundles. (Some companies even make specialty cloth snack carriers.) This method won’t just reduce waste, it will also encourage you to be more aware of your diet. Plus you get a nice reputation as “that person who carries their food like a turn of the century train-hopper.” Who wouldn’t want that?