What is the Point of the Cereal Box?

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Most of us do it each morning without thinking – open the cardboard cereal box, open the inner plastic liner, pour out our cereal, fold the inner liner over, close the box and put it back on the shelf.

Breakfast time in many Australian homes.

Looking at my recycling bin, the cardboard cereal box makes quite a regular appearance.
But why is it there at all?

Cereal is double-packaged. The inner plastic liner keeps the food fresh. And the box does what?

Look pretty?
Stack nicely on the supermarket shelf?
Waste a whole lot of paper resources, printing and transport just so it can go in the recycling bin?

Box, then bag, then cereal?

Box, then bag, then cereal?

So next time I went to the supermarket, I had a closer look at the cereal aisle. Flanked on either side of the shelves and shelves of boxed cereal, were cereal products in a bag, no box. At one end, these were the generic supermarket brand versions of common breakfast cereals, at the other end were a whole lot of high-range muesli’s.

I bought some of both.  Maybe I would find the products crushed and solve the mystery of the purpose of the box.

They weren’t crushed. They were in perfect condition.

You may argue that muesli is dense and un-crushable, but the generic ‘air filled bubbles of rice’ cereal was also uncrushed. All the information I required was printed directly on the bag, and the non-generic products were also attractive with pictures and colours, just like a box.

Shelves and shelves of extra packaging. Why?

Shelves and shelves of extra packaging. Why?

So I’ve come to the conclusion that the box is of no use whatsoever, other than to put more pressure on our environment.
I now preferentially choose cereal with just one layer of packaging rather than two.

Will you?

Profile photo of Ella Maesepp

Author: Ella Maesepp

Since 2003, Ella has been Ella is a keen advocate of the important role of individuals in tackling climate change and environmental degradation. She runs Katanning Eco-House, a domestic sustainability business based around her own family home and is also a Climate Media Centre Spokesperson, where she provides professional insight into a wide range of environmental topics.


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