Wrapper Roundup

About one-third of our trash is packaging. One of the best ways to reduce the amount of trash we create is by becoming more aware of the amount of packaging we pay for every time we buy something. Try this experiment.

You Will Need:
One large cardboard box
Bathroom scale


  1. Save your packaging trash for one week, collecting it in a separate cardboard box. This includes anything used to wrap a product -- bags, glass and plastic bottles, boxes, cardboard.
  2. Identify and sort the different packaging materials. Weigh the empty box. Then put each pile in the box and subtract the weight of the box.
    How much does the paper weigh?
    How much does the cardboard weigh?
    How much does the plastic weigh?
    How much does the metal weigh?
    How much does the glass weigh?
  3. How many different kinds of plastic do you have?
    Number of thin films ("shrink wrap")?
    Number of plastic bags?
    Number of colored, flexible containers?
    Number of stiff, lightweight "styrofoam" containers?
    Number of soft "foam rubber" packages?
    Number of hard, transparent containers?
    Other types of packaging?
  4. Try to figure out why each type of packaging was used. Was it to keep something fresh? To protect it from breaking? For safety reasons? To make it more attractive so you'd be more likely to buy it? how much did you the packaging influence your decision to buy that product?
  5. Do you think any of the products you bought was overpackaged? Next time you shop, try to avoid these overpackaged products. Convince your friends and family to do the same. You'll be making a big difference, because the people who make and sell those products will see that consumers prefer to buy products without unnecessary packaging.

Other Activities

Rotten Truth Home

© The Rotten Truth web site was created in 1998 by the Association of Science-Technology Centers Incorporated and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Rotten Truth (About Garbage) links to a number of activities and resources provided by institutions other than ASTC and SITES. Every effort has been made to ensure that these links are accurate, but because neither ASTC nor SITES controls the content of these web sites, outside links are not guaranteed to be correct or active. Neither ASTC nor SITES shall be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages connected with, or arising out of, providing the information offered here. External sites are not endorsed by ASTC or the Smithsonian Institution.