View Full Version : Food Packaging Waste

05-26-2014, 20:41
When I go on backpacking trips (2-3 nights) I tend to bring along things I have cooked myself before hand and purchase things like oatmeal in bulk that I can easily prepare on the trail and keep in reusable containers. It occurs to me thru-hiking the AT I wont really have this luxury of pre-hike food prep and bulk buying and am going to need to rely more on prepackaged foods (granola bars, etc). All of this individually wrapped single-serving food stuff feels wasteful to me... has anyone thought of good ways to cut down on the amount of trash while on a thru-hike?

bamboo bob
05-26-2014, 21:03
Lots of people prepare food pre-hike. Dehydrating and mixing various grains, etc. dried fruit. Lots of stuff can be put in ziplocks and sent to mail drops. But often it's just as well to buy along the way. I rarely ship food so buying packaged food and stripping out the unneeded packaging is routine.

Wise Old Owl
05-26-2014, 21:12
Well that's not going to go away...years ago it was piles of tin cans at the shelter, the packaging has changed and its a growing industry. I noticed when going no cook and using a bag of bagels and cream cheese, hard boiled eggs etc the amount of trash went down.

05-27-2014, 14:35
Ditto for no-cook being less trash. I once fit all the trash for a 160-mile resupply in the empty peanut butter jar.

I buy a lot of packaging at the store, then repackage everything into ziplocks--oats, nuts and raisins go into one, crackers into another, instant mashed potatoes or beans into another, extra nuts and raisins each go into their own. Tortillas come in perfect trail packaging and the empty bag can be used to replace ziplocks as they break. I even try to remember to remove the seal from the peanut butter jar before I leave town. I'm vegetarian on the trail so I don't have to deal with meat packaging.

05-27-2014, 14:44
Stuff with bulky or inefficient packaging is re-packaged into ziploc bags before I hit the trail. I don't bring canned foods, most stuff I eat on the trail is packaged in plastic or foil. There's very little volume or weight to the wrappers. After three or four days in the woods, the wrappers easily fit in a sandwich-sized ziploc, maybe two or three oz., tops.

05-27-2014, 15:35
Usually I repack after checkout. Lots of extra packaging (mostly cardboard).

But sealed single serving packages provide far more choices and safer choices. It allows food to stay sealed till needed, then once opened consumed in it's entirety. I used this to bring food that would be in need of refrigeration if not presealed. In that sense it is a very good thing for a backpacker, and IMHO a acceptable use of such packaging that one does not need to feel guilty of (which I am sensing from your post).

05-27-2014, 15:59
Definitely repack after checkout. But that doesn't mean you can't prepare food in advance and ship it ahead. I prefer to augment easily obtainable store bought meals (i.e. lipton sides, mac and cheese, pasta helper, etc.) with proteins and vegetables both of which can be easily dehydrated and will keep for long periods of time. Same goes for things like Nido whole milk which I can use for breakfast cereal, instant (or cooked pudding), cheese sauces (i.e. mac and cheese). For oatmeal (and if you're still cooking breakfast after 3 or 4 weeks on the trail...good for you!) you can open the packets and dump them into a quart size ziploc. Then measure out what you need for breakfast.

I pack half my meals for a 10 day section at home. I use different size ziplocs to pack it keeping things that make the bags messy separate from those that don't. That way I can reuse the bags for other purposes and don't have to throw them away right away. Call it recycling ;)