The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
June 16, 2010

In Hell, they drink Le Froglet wine in individual plastic wine glasses

This morning, my friend Jenn sent me an article from the U.K.’s Daily Mail about an exciting new concept in wine: single serving portions in disposable plastic glasses.

Le Froglet wine-in-glass

It sounds like something from The Onion or Saturday Night Live, but sadly it’s not. Le Froglet’s wine in individual glasses is flying off the shelves at Britain’s Marks & Spencer, which apparently has a whole store section called Food on the Move packed with all kinds of single-serving goodies.

Well, the insanity of producing yet one more single-use disposable product in a time when we are constantly reminded of the dire nature of our environmental situation got me thinking about the one thing EVERYONE could do right now to reduce their consumption, plastic and otherwise:

JUST STOP BUYING SINGLE SERVINGS!

Stop buying single servings of everything. Stop right now. There is no reason that I can think of for anyone to do it. (Okay, I’m sure there must be an exception. There always is. And if so, one or more of you will let me know.) But for all intents and purposes, we can all just stop buying foods in single-serving containers right now.

I realize that foods in bulk bins or glass containers may not be available to everyone everywhere. I get that. But buying the largest size of something that you will consume before it goes bad will cut down on a lot of plastic packaging because the ratio of packaging to product is lower. And if you won’t be able to consume a larger size of something before it goes bad, consider whether you need it in the first place.

Instead of string cheese…

string cheese

buy a block of cheese that you cut yourself.

string cheese

Instead of yogurt cups…

yogurt cups

large yogurt tubs.

yogurt tub

Instead of juice boxes…

juice box

large jugs of juice.

juice in plastic jug

Instead of (oh my god I can’t even believe these exist!) individually wrapped prunes…

Sunsweet individually wrapped prunes

a bag of prunes.

prunes

I’m sure you can think of tons more examples.

Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t continue to look for plastic-free options instead of plastic. For example, in our house we never buy juice in the first place, opting for whole fruit. But I do realize that everyone is different and has to decide what foods they would be willing to give up in the interest of reducing packaging. What I am saying is that whatever you choose to eat, don’t buy individual portions. They are just not worth it!

And for those wondering how you would pack a lunch without buying individually-sized foods, there are a whole slew of lunch containers available these days for just that purpose. Check out the Lunch and To-Go sections of my Plastic-Free Living Guide.

That was my rant for the week. What examples of ridiculously sized products have you seen?

52 comments
Annabel1223
Annabel1223

You have a point in there. Why use single use product or small size when there is much more bigger with large content on it. Using one small project will only be used for one day and then you have to go the grocery store to buy. It is much practical to buy bigger. It is not about consuming the plastic ware but the content is the matter.

http://ecohogwindshifters.co.uk/


Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Wow, M, you're right. That's even worse! Here's the URL for the site, which I just posted on Facebook: http://www.singlz.co.nz/index.html It's bad enough to have a single serving plastic wine glass full of wine. But a plastic bottle that comes with a separate plastic glass is just too much.

M
M

I saw these today and I couldn't believe there could possibly be a wine with more plastic waste than what you posted, but it looks like there is! http://www.flickr.com/photos/51221241@N02/4757986261/ It was a small plastic bottle of wine WITH an individual plastic "glass" for each plastic bottle.

Piper
Piper

Those Kleenex hand towels really bugged me, too. Especially after last summer when I hiked through a clear-cut owned by Kimberly Clark on the Pacific Crest Trail. I'm sure that a lot of these crazy things, like individually wrapped prunes, are just the packaging industry coming up with a way to increase their own sales and doing a marketing job on the prune industry who then says what a great idea and then figures out a way to sell it to us. Wow, you can eat prunes now without getting your fingers all sticky! Someday they will figure out a way to sell us individually wrapped grains of rice, or individually wrapped single-serving tooth paste that comes in a box so the Kimberly Clark people can cut down a few more trees at the same time the plastics people can rejoice they found a new way to make us buy more plastic that we don't even want and now have to pay to dispose of.

claire
claire

alil, about the bread-- you should try asking whoever makes the bread if they would put one in a paper or cloth bag for you when they're packaging them (maybe if you provided the bag). find out when they make it and arrange to pick it up at a certain time. have you tried bakeries (either a bakery shop or at a supermarket)? there's also the option of making your own bread, of course. and yes, the apples irk me. mcdonald's came out with those a while ago as a healthy snack alternative for kids, which is all well and good, but they're presliced and packaged in plastic. one thing that bothers me is that if you buy starburst candy in a box, instead of lining them all up in a row and filling the box to capacity (they are SQUARE after all), they're packaged in a plastc bag inside the box with lots of room to spare. why wouldn't they package them in a box in rows in the first place and eliminate their plastic bag packaging entirely? they'd have to redesign their machines, but I'm sure they can figure that out.

Rebecca The Greeniac
Rebecca The Greeniac

OMG... I just read the comment about the rice in individual packages... help...

Rebecca The Greeniac
Rebecca The Greeniac

What's next... individually wrapped grains of rice? I recently attended a local "handmade homemade market club" which was really cool. People all brought homemade stuff to sell/swap. But there was this woman selling homemade yogurt in individual little plastic containers.... AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH! I didn't say anything, but I'm going to be a vendor at the next market, and I'm bringing everything in bulk and offering people free re-used jars or handmade reusable cloth bags to take it home in. Maybe leading by example will help?

Suzanne
Suzanne

Yep next they will convince us we need disposable clothing because the germs are just too much, yes we have billions of germs, but we also have these amazing things called wait for it... immune systems. The single use home hand towels are what got me, Hate the advertising, as if using a beautiful cotton towel is gross, get over yourself.

alil
alil

I finally found a way to contact Klennex and Kimberly Clark about those horrible hand towels. - I found it after going to their page about how they are all into being sustainable. However, I'm feeling really bad today I did really bad in terms of using throw away plastic stuff, every meal I ate out (I was taken out 2x today) was in plastic or served on plastic. I've also been looking around to see where I can cut out my plastic use. It looks like there's no non plastic wrapped bread options for me. There is a farmer's market where fresh bread is sold but - it's all in plastic. Oh! To get back to the insanity I bought Arnolds Sandwich Thins - they are sealed in plastic in side the plastic bag! Since I can't find any non plastic bread options this seemed like the best choice since the bags are smaller, but not with the double plastic.

Lara S.
Lara S.

Once I bought a box of whole rice, and then found out that the rice came in many little plastic baggies inside the box. Each baggie was the size of a portion and came with tiny holes in it. The box actually suggests boiling the rice IN the bag, then when you take it out of the bag it will be cooked AND STRAINED. I mean who has the time to strain the rice, right...? In this case the food came with a carton box, many individually wrapped portions and, if you cook the rice the way the box says you should, you might also get some yummy toxins in it!! Yay! I think it's almost as bad as the prunes :S

Raylene P
Raylene P

About kids- I have two very young children and our total household waste is one small trash bag every week or so. Cloth diapering, breastfeeding, eating straight from the table (instead of jarred baby food), carrying the baby around in an ergo carrier helps. For lunch on the go, we use lunchskins instead of ziploc plastic bags, cloth napkins, and stainless steel containers for food and water (no juice, only whole fruits here too). The kids know not to expect special treatment for food- they eat what's on the table or not at all. That eliminates the pickiness factor and it is easier to pack one lunch for all. I am still working on reducing our overall plastic trash though. mothering.com is a good resource for eco-moms.

Sofia's Ideas
Sofia's Ideas

I really think, or at least I hope, that for the most part, people continue to purchase this stuff because they really don't know or understand what the deal is with plastic. I think (or hope) that if people were more educated about why "granola heads" are so adamant about it, they would become more conscious consumers. Right now, I am struggling with the apathy I see all around me, and I am pensive. But I hope that its truly not that people don't care, but that they just need to have more guidance & good examples in their lives.

Monica
Monica

Hi Beth, I have been following your blog religiously for a few months now and this is my first time posting a comment. I've seen a lot of absolutely insane individually wrapped items out there, and I think individually wrapped organic potatoes might either tie with the prunes in ridiculousness or perhaps even surpass them. I saw them at Safeway recently. I mean, come on, individually wrapped organic potatoes!?! Is that a multiple oxy-moron or what? Seeing those reminded me why I generally try to avoid Safeway.

Andrea
Andrea

Lunchables. Little packets of mini carrots, celery and dip. And the all-time most insane: premade and frozen (with the crusts cut off) peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 'Cause sometimes, lifting a knife to spread jam is just too. damn. hard.

ellen abbott
ellen abbott

I'm appalled by the individually wrapped prunes. I've been ranting about that for a while now. I never buy individual servings, never have. When my kids were in school, I regularly embarrassed them by making envelopes out of wax paper to put their chips in.

Amber
Amber

With kids, the single-serving thing especially bothers me. There seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of packaging and the number of cartoon characters emblazoned on the front. So of course, my kids are begging for the yogurt / "fruit" snacks / string cheese with the friendly and colourful characters on them. It annoys me. I don't buy it, but I could do without a weekly meltdown as I attempt to patiently explain, yet again, why I won't.

Karen Bannan from NaturalAsPossibleMom
Karen Bannan from NaturalAsPossibleMom

I started buying blocks of cheese, too. And mine come wrapped in wax and cloth. (Trader Joe's Irish cheese. Yummy, yummy.) I can't stand wastefulness like individually-packaged wine. I mean...come on! Think about the taste, too. Nothing like bottled wine being poured straight into a beautiful crystal glass.

Penny
Penny

I have an issue with the tins of chewing gum that are wrapped in plastic. It's like, come on! you already have it in a tin! What purpose does the plastic serve? It doesn't even have writing on it! Ugh. I haven't had chewing gum in weeks because of this.

tan@tan/green
tan@tan/green

Do you think the marketing industry is courted by the plastics industry? I can't think of any other source/reason for individually wrapped prunes. So many single serve products are aimed at kids you get more for your money AND less plastic waste by getting the bigger container. However, on that note, Beth, do you have good ideas of what to send kids' school lunches in that isn't plastic/disposible? (you may have this in a post way back somewhere?)

sudha
sudha

have to pat the back of these innovative new product developers...cant praise them enough for having come up with something so useless and unneccessary

Clif
Clif

Beth, what I don't think anyone has mentioned so far is the biggest reason for these tiny single servings - they are VERY PROFITABLE! If you figure the cost per ounce of whatever it may be, it is sky high compared to the cost per ounce of the same stuff in larger quantities. One of the old-timers in the single serving biz is liquor because those who crave the alcohol will buy the tiny bottles - the price of the tiny bottle is small compared to a larger one but what a great deal it is for the manufacturer. So the enemy you face is the most powerful one of all - the profit motive.

jess
jess

Many times, I have thought that one of your strengths as a blogger was your ability to sort of "curate" the confusing, baffling maze of plastic-free or lesser-plastic living. Part of that has been relying on the insights and expertise of people you have met through your own, personal journey. Is there a chance that you have a plastic-free friend with kids who would guest blog for you about eliminating plastic from a life with kids? A lot of these issues sounds great in theory, but it can be difficult to think about packing all of those lunches for all those picky eaters on the move without buying, say, string cheese at least once in a while.

Erika
Erika

I grind my teeth every time I run across a mention of the K-Cup coffee system by Green Mountain, who ought to know better. Instead of scooping coffee grounds into a filter to make a pot of coffee - bulk and compostable all the way - they sell enough grounds to brew ONE SINGLE CUP OF COFFEE in a wee plastic tub with a plastic lid.

Veronica
Veronica

Thank you, thank you THANK YOU, Rob, for mentioning via. I HATE VIA. I hate the taste, the concept, THE PACKAGING, and I'm one of those baristas under pressure to shove it down the throats over every customer who walks into a Starbucks. I keeps some in my cabinet and emergency kit, but how does a company who is supposed to be environmentally friendly do that?! I am SO SORRY for the next time a barista asks you if you want to buy some. Really, I am. :(

Beth D.
Beth D.

Twyla- to make your own string cheese you can buy a brick of mozzarella and cut it in to square strips. It will peel just like the rounded ones. I do it all the time! I was just thinking the other day that I wished there was a re-usable tube for freezing stuff so I could make my own freezy-pops.

The Id
The Id

...Who eats prunes? More to the point, who would look at a jar of individually-wrapped prunes and say, "Ooh! Now I can eat prunes on the go." I usually buy stuff in bulk rather than single-servings. Of course, this has the side-effects that I end up eating more of the stuff (because I can choose the serving size), and I do end up wasting some. I would kill to be able to buy single eggs, wrapped or not. I do not want SIX eggs, I want ONE for this meal. ONE!

Jenna
Jenna

These aren't plastic, but just as insane: http://www.kleenex.com/handtowels/ "Your hands are only as clean as the towel used to dry them." Really? So my hand towel in my house isn't clean enough? REALL?! The one I washed and then dry my washed hands off with? These people are sick.

Eleanor
Eleanor

I eat individually wrapped, single serving food every day - typically multiple times a day. But it's plastic and paper free. It's called whole fruit. Mother nature gave it a peel to keep it nice in my purse/desk/on the counter until I'm ready to eat it. When I can, it comes from trees, vines, or shrubs in my area. Pears, apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, grapes, all come with their own packaging and grow in my area. Berries are a little trickier, but if they aren't eaten immediately (rare) there's pyrex, tupperware, tins, bowls, all manner of containers that will get my food from A to B, or just let it sit at A for a while in a nice manageable state. Best part? All those containers can be reused for all manner of food, in all kinds of portion sizes. Sorry if this is offensive or harsh, but individually plastic wrapped servings of anything are at best thoughtless, at worst maliciously stupid, and universally, malignantly irresponsible. I'm tired of listening to all kinds of people (young moms, retired, students, everyone in betwee) make all kinds of excuses. Beth, you're right. I don't have to listen and accept their apologies. So I won't - because right here on your blog are examples of those same groups of people finding ways around it. So there are no excuses. Do what's right, or don't try for my sympathy/understanding. Wow that feels better already.

Penny Basket
Penny Basket

If we tell these companies to stop producing single serve anything, surely the monetary gain is greater since people actually buy them. So what we need to do is stop buying them and tell our friends who buy them what harm plastic is doing to our world.

Danish girl
Danish girl

Hey Beth, you could link to http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/. Have a look and decide. Most of the times, she makes wonderful lunchboxes in reusable containers. If someone doesn't get convinced by that, then I don't know. Keep on doing the great work!

twyla
twyla

omg individually wrapped prunes? are you serious, they make those? I have been guilty in the past of buying cheese strings. Its been really hard to explain to my daughter why we don't buy them anymore. Same with yogurt cups. But I do buy yogurt tubes instead of tubs because I think there's less plastic there and it bridges the gap with the whole "freezie pop" sugar water thing. Its a hard decision: yogurt tub and freeze our own pops or tubes. But the wine .. thats shocktastic. How many pre-packaged cups does it take to mae a person tipsy? Thats a lot of waste...

Tanya
Tanya

Oh just today I saw someones individually wrapped apple slices in the fridge at work! Seriously is your life soooooo busy that you don't have the time to cut up an apple! He'll you don't even need to cut it! Just bite into it! Plus they put se kind of preservative on them to keep them from going brown... And they taste disgusting (I tried one when visiting relatives - would never purchase myself). But hey they're "organic!". That's my rant! Thanks for giving me a forum to rant! :).

laura
laura

Hi Beth, Truly unbelieveable that countless new products are still being introduced for 'disposable' living. I think one of the best tactics is just to educate and share clever ideas about alternatives to the daily plastic consumption (which of course your blog does!)... talk like crazy to all your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, the fellow-shoppers in the market or the mall..... don't be afraid of insulting someone, be brave... it is a noble cause to want to help save our dear planet. Some people need to have ideas given to them about ways to avoid the typical plastic use..... put your left overs in a glass bowl and place a plate on top.. no plastic wrap needed. Save your glass jars (because I know you only buy stuff in glass.. right?) and use these as your 'tupperware', don't put plastic liners in garbage cans... they are garbage cans, if need be just rinse them out when you empty the garbage; every time you purchase something that you absolutely cannot find in anything but plastic, make a bold statement to the store manager to PLEASE TELL YOUR SUPPLIERS TO NOT PACKAGE IN PLASTIC, there are millions of clever ideas, preach, preach, preach to everyone you know until habits are changed.

greg
greg

Mankind is killing our world, one sinlgle serve item at a time, but how about those single serving small lump of cheese, 3 crackers and a plastic knife all in a plastic container. I still think bottled water is the worst thing ever. Unfortunately I believe outlawing sinlgle use containers is the only way to go but to much money is involved it won't happen, so we drown in plastic. g

Leanne
Leanne

I'm just imagining all the Toadlets (I won't call them Froglets) spilling their red wine all over themselves when they try to open their stupid plastic cups. What a dumb idea! Because, to my mind, part of the romance and mystique of wine is in the sharing, and opening, of a BOTTLE of wine! Between friends, or lovers, or family. As it should bloody well be. OMG, now you've got me ranting!

Rob
Rob

I think VIA Instant Coffee (sorry Starbucks) is the most irresponsible packaging scheme I have seen in years. I serving of instant coffee in small plastic bag? And this is better than a jar of instant why?

Martin
Martin

When I lived in Tunisia last year I was totally spoiled with unpackaged baguettes and croissants - but the younger generation (which is the MAJORITY in the developing world) liked their individually wrapped cakes for breakfast. Buying into the consumer culture is a right of passage for those people that are in an emerging middle class. ====================== Single use BBQs aren't that plasticy but they seem kinda wasteful. They seem to sell lots of them here in Malta.

Amy
Amy

Know what drives me nuts? People putting their already-with-skin-or-rind produce in plastic bags. Why WHY do you need to put your bananas in a plastic bag? Or your avocado? Sometimes it's hard for me to keep my mouth shut in the grocery store....

Erin
Erin

Friggin' insanity. I guess people will buy anything in the name of convenience. Aside from the waste of resources, can we say waste of money?

Sandra Lee
Sandra Lee

I totally cannot believe individually wrapped prunes! Give me a break! I only eat whole foods with one exception so I cannot think of any individually wrapped foods. I rarely even go into a "normal" grocery store.

S Heggestad
S Heggestad

Surely we are the reincarnation of the Ancient Romans.

Carla
Carla

Completely disgusting! Individually wrapped anything! But now, plastic glasses of wine? No no no............. Hey I buy my wine in giant glass bottles! :) It's way more fun that way~

rachel
rachel

wooooow... I often buy picnic supplies at the M&S in train stations before journeys, and I wish this surprised me but it doesn't. To be fair I'm not sure how this encourages alcohol consumption since you are buying one serving rather than the whole bottle. better to buy the individual serving bottles, but, oh wait, these are now plastic too! And it certainly lacks the charm or swigging from the bottle during your makeshift picnic. Clearly the best solution is to find someone to share a bottle with! =)

SivartM
SivartM

I couldn't believe those individually-wrapped prunes when I saw them on TV. Come on, they're just prunes. Oh, and if you buy bulk snacks... don't put them in disposable plastic snack bags. :)

Condo Blues
Condo Blues

You convinced me Beth. I'm buying my locally made wine in bulk :)

Pure Mothers
Pure Mothers

Oh, Beth! I live in the "he'll" you speak of! When I first moved to London I took tons of photos of all the individually wrapped plastic foods at Marks & Spencer! I never got around to my blog post about it, but I was in shock after living in Marin. With the huge alcohol problem they have here I am not surprised by your hellish find. Big city, people on the go seems to equate with lots of single servings wrapped in endless amounts of plastic. It gets me down every time I go to the store. Who needs a cucumber wrapped in plastic. It pisses me off, frankly.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Jess. That's a great idea. I have had a few moms guest post here, but I'm not sure they answered the lunch question. I'll throw out the question to the group: do any of you moms want to write a guest post about how you feed a bunch of picky eaters without making waste?

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Id, you're funny. I'm sitting here eating prunes as I type this. I love them. :-)