Compare the eco-impact of different packaging materials using this chart. For perspective: The average U.S. home burns 11,000 kilowatt hours of energy and produces 16,000 pounds of carbon dioxide through electricity use per year.
|Material||Energy cost to produce $1,000 worth||Greenhouse gases produced||Amount recovered in 2007||Landfill lifespan||Alternatives|
|Glass containers||6,944 kilowatt hours||3,527 lbs.||28%||1 million years||Always recycle glass — otherwise your great- great-great grandkids might find a bottle you threw away.|
|Plastic containers (#1, #2, #5)||3,889 kilowatt hours||2,425 lbs.||14%||450 years||Reduce use of throwaways, and try to buy easily recyclable #1 and #2 plastics.|
|Plastic bags and film||3,611 kilowatt hours||2,270 lbs.||10%||500-1,000 years||Use canvas grocery bags; wrap sandwiches in napkins.|
|Polystyrene foam peanuts||3,333 kilowatt hours||2,078 lbs.||7%||500 years||Cushion fragile shipments with crumpled newspapers or magazines. Drop off excess foam packaging peanuts at your local FedEx or UPS store.|
|Coated and uncoated paper bags||3,889 kilowatt hours||2,381 lbs.||37%||1 month||Switch to reusable canvas bags, and always recycle paper bags.|
|Coated and laminated paper, including gift wrap, tissue, and butcher paper||3,611 kilowatt hours||2,151 lbs.||Negligible||2-5 months||Wrap gifts in newspaper comics pages or reusable fabric wraps.|
|Corrugated cardboard||4,444 kilowatt hours||2,645 lbs.||74%||1-2 months||Buy packaging-free products. Reuse cardboard boxes and compost shredded cardboard.|
|Steel and aluminum cans, boxes, and other containers||4,722 kilowatt hours||3,262 lbs.||54%||200-400 years||Fill reusable containers at the bulk bins, and always recycle steel or aluminum containers.|
Source: Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA), eiolca.net/copyright/index.html.