Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One thing for the planet: buy cereal in bags and not boxes

I've been eating a brand of corn flakes for about three years now that is packaged only in a bag, there's no box. I chose this brand, Nature's Path, because it's sweetened with fruit juice and not cane sugar (cane sugar seems to set off my Crohn's Disease). The lack of a box is a bonus.

For some reason I've never read much more on the bag then the ingredient list which is pleasantly short: organic corn meal, organic grape and/or pear juice concentrate, sea salt. There's nothing I can't pronounce or that my intestines haven't evolved to digest which I really like. But there's something else interesting on the bag I noticed this morning over my daily bowl: a link to papercalculator.org, a website managed by the Environmental Defense Fund. Apparently, according to this website, Nature's Path's products without boxes have saved more than:

  • 437 tons of paper board
  • 1,389,323 pounds of CO2
  • 7,464 million BTUs of energy
  • 826,542 gallons of wastewater
  • 248, 383 pounds of diverted solid waste

So next time you need your cereal fix look for products packaged without a box. If you don't want to shell out extra for organic there are conventional cereals out there such as generic brands of Cheerios and corn flakes that come in just a bag. Most regular grocery stores carry them, they're usually on the bottom shelf. Give them a shot and think of all the good you will be doing!

And if you work in and office that uses a lot of paper (which I don't) play around with papercalculator.org, it was pretty fun even though I didn't benefit much. Doing paper work and sitting still is low on the list of my priorities while at the aquarium...but hopefully our paper purchaser is being mindful when they place their order.


  1. Since I don't eat packaged cereal at all, I don't have to worry about the boxes. At my Food Co-op, they have one shelf with cereal boxes, but when I go to the local massive supermarket, there are entire acres of cereal boxes! It's pretty amazing, especially considering their cost. (I used to eat shredded wheat.)

    When I was working I was really shocked by the amount of paper we wasted at work. And it didn't get better with email, because everything needed to be printed out and filed! Thanks for the paper calculator; anything to raise awareness of unconscious waste is great!

  2. Great idea. I usually buy the generic stuff without sugar anyway. I am diabetic so I can't eat the stuff with sugar added. And I think the generic tastes just as good. It's amazing how much energy etc can be saved by not buying boxes.

    I also recycle my computer printer paper. When I have printed on one side and don't need the copy any longer, I cut up the paper into 4 squares and staple the clean sides together for scratch paper note pads.

  3. Presumably the bag is biodegradable?

    I'm a Scoopaway girl myself (do they have those in the US? - a shop with bins of grains, nuts, dried fruit etc., and you scoop away at it).

  4. Hi Kate,

    Cereals are being sold here now in pouch sizes, you know you can buy only what you can consume. But the sad thing is it's being packed in plastics which we are trying to minimize but I think there were already plastic bags which are biodegrable, I wonder if it makes a difference.

    Yes, papers are also being recycled in work places. Shredded papers are sometimes sold to stuff toys makers, they make good stuffings for toys.

    BTW I wrote something about the picture on my header and post photos too, you might want to see it.


  5. DJan, the varieties of everything in the States is insane, cereal being the biggest. We have an entire side of a very long aisle lined with cereal at my local supermarket. I like just the simple corn flakes. And in the winter I don't even eat it and opt for toast. But in the summer a cold bowl of cereal is so refreshing.

    Rae: it is so hard to find food without sugar. And I mean ALL food! I couldn't eat ANY form of sugar (except honey)for two whole months to manage my Crohn's, even a lot of meats have it injected in it! yuck! good luck managing your diabetes. I can imagine it would be very hard in this modern world of corn syrup.

    Lulu: we do have those bins here, but more in upscale stores closer to Boston. When I'm near the city I'll stock up, but sadly even 30 miles north we have to make do without. The bags isn't biodegradable but it is a #4 recyclable, not sure if you have that system in the UK, but my town will take anything #1 through #9.

    AL: I never thought of putting shredded paper in toys! But I remember doing that as a kid in a project my mom had us do once when we sewed our own teddy bears. Great idea! I will check out your blog once my kid stops climbing up my leg...better run!

    thanks for visiting everyone!!! -kate

  6. I had no idea that the bags could be so effective.

  7. I try to buy my food in bags as opposed to boxes as well. It's amazing how much we can save by making such small but important changes.

    I thought you hadn't blogged for awhile - turns out I didn't update my following list! Ooops...now I am going to get caught up and I've fixed the problem.

  8. WOW! What a great idea. I've never noticed packaged cereals but I will be on the lookout from now on. It's amazing just how much Nature's Path's products without boxes have saved. Thanks for the info.
    At my workplace, computers have eliminated a lot of the paper wastage but we still have a long way to go.

  9. OK, I will quietly come in through the back door on this post because I have something to admit. I was employed as a sales rep for quite a few years by a major manufacture, one of the largest of the cereal companies. Think of the letters GM. I sold product by the truck load.
    Like good little girls and boys we spread the word on the evils of bagged cereal.

    These days it is rare for me to by cereal but the last I bought was in a bag. It is the best way to go and from what I have been reading lately some of the major players are going to bags instead of boxes. It may take awhile but maybe they will come around. It is the consumer who has to let them know they want the change.

    Al mentioned the pouch sizes, be sure to check the unit pricing which most stores have posted on the shelf tag. In most cases you will pay more for smaller sizes.

  10. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you I found a mantid yesterday in one of my planters. The first I have seen this year!

  11. Squirrel, it is amazing how one little change can make a difference!

    Lisa! WOW! you are quite the thorough blog reader! thank you for all your comments! they are much appreciated! I hope you haven't found any more snakes too!

    Susan: good luck on the search for more eco-friendly cereal, there are a lot of options.

    SQ: no need to be embarrassed! we all need to feed our families and it sounds like you at least liked your job? Thanks for the insider info that more manufactures are forgoing the box, that's fabulous news! that's also great about your mantid, the only "wild" one I ever saw was years and years ago in the entryway of my dorm building at college. You're lucky to have them appear on their own. I will do an update on my mantids soon, found one last night on a green bean, twice as big as last week, yay!

    thanks for visiting everyone! -kate

  12. Great tip! I will keep this in mind next time I'm cereal shopping :-)


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