Buying More Means Less Packaging

Buying More Means Less Packaging

Bradley Jacobsen

How does San Francisco’s Recycling Program help reduce the waste stream while saving local consumers money? Through its annual “Save Money and the Environment Too” campaign, San Franciscans learn that purchasing larger-sized items, such as groceries, is cheaper and reduces the packaging that eventually winds up in the trash.

For example, if a family bought cereal boxes instead of individual snack packs, the savings for a family of four would total $118 per year and produce 50 percent less waste.

This effort, which is the nation’s largest, longest running regional environmental awareness campaign, predicts that those who heed its message can save as much as $3,000 per year. [See “San Francisco’s Tips to Save Money, Reduce Waste” on left.]

The program is a cooperative effort among 110 cities and nine counties in the San Francisco Bay area, 400 supermarkets, and many public and private partners. Boosted by a $400,000 media push, the message blanketed the nine-county area. In addition, the program’s coalition also sponsors two waste prevention websites that include information specific to the Bay area — www.sfrecycle.org

David Assmann, the project’s coordinator, says the campaign remains a success because its influence and audience grows every year. Since 1996, the coalition has gauged the campaign’s effectiveness with exit polls and sales surveys conducted during the six-week push and through the year.

Next year, the coalition plans to raise awareness through more expansive media coverage as well as through additional support from the coalition and its long-term partners.

“The project’s nationwide appeal and long-term, environmental efforts contribute to the uniqueness of this on-going campaign,” Assmann says.

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