If you’re a parent of little kids, from babes in arms to preschoolers, you’ve seen the the new(er) squeezable fruit and veggie spout pouches that are replacing jarred baby food and even good old fashioned apple sauce for the older kids. They’re even found in fast food kids’ meals and sold at Starbucks. There’s a lot of conversation going on about this food packaging method and the food within from health concerns to problems learning to eat. Personally, I just plain don’t like the packaging!
Now I won’t act like I didn’t buy a few of these pouches when my kid was still eating purees and that we’ve used some of the “squeezy applesauce” packs past toddlerhood. The baby foods are marketed well with organic super foods, pretty labels and happy baby names. They’re easy for older kids to eat – or rather, suck – on their own and are harder to spill so are really convenient. However, I am an avid recycler and am admittedly over concerned about the waste we produce. I realized quickly that this isn’t a product we want in our home, health concerns and learning to use a spoon aside.
The only way to recycle these squeezable fruit and veg packs currently is through TerraCycle. Organizations or individuals sign up thorough TerraCycle to be a drop off location, called a brigade. They collect the pouches until they have a full box and then send it off to the company. TerraCycle will then make recycled products with the pouches such as park benches or trash cans along with many other waste items they collect. However, Terracycle has a very limited amount of brigades available and the vast majority of the pouches are ending up in landfills. Not many will go to these lengths to recycle baby food wrappers in the first place.
Some companies that produce these squeeze packs address some environmental concerns but I am still not sold. They propose that the packaging is lighter to transport, saving gas and shipping costs. They also claim that the production of the pouches versus glass jars or plastic boxes produces less pollution. However, once the food is consumed and the packaging disposed of, the natural resources (oil mostly) used to make the pouch is gone forever and buried in a landfill. I prefer jars that can be repurposed and recycled over and over.
There are products on the market that help you make your own squeeze packs which is not only cheaper, but you can also utilize reusable pouches. Check out Squooshi which are super cute and Sili Squeeze which are spill proof and extra sturdy. I’m not at all advocating that your kids should drink all their fruits and veggies but hey, I wouldn’t mind a smoothie on the go once and a while too.
What I am advocating is to buy traditional, reusable and recyclable glass or plastic baby food jars. Avoid these squeezable fruit and veggies. Let’s do better for our kids and the planet.