over-packaged-deli-meatSometimes greening your life feels more like going down the rabbit hole. Every time I think I’m doing well, I see another area of my life that I can change. As I made my boyfriend’s lunch recently (I know, I’m so nice), I looked at the two Hillshire Farm Deli Select lunchmeats I bought. Oh no, that is quite a lot of packaging. Each Hillshire Farm Deli Select purchase comes with lunchmeat wrapped in a sealed plastic pouch. The pouch comes in a Tupperware-like container, taped on the sides, with a cardboard label attached to the top. The upside is that the Tupperware plastic container makes a good reusable leftover container, and is also recyclable. I have several that I have kept for leftovers, and they hold up nicely. The downside is that I do not need 30 plastic Tupperware containers that are the same size and shape. I will never need all of them. Hillshire Farm is part of the Sara Lee Corporation, which is known for baked goods and desserts. The Sara Lee Corporation also owns the brands Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Ambi Pur, Kiwi, Sanex and Senseo, just to name a few. Sara Lee has taken some steps toward sustainability, including using spent coffee grounds to fire the boilers in several of its plants; reducing packaging for its breakfast bowls, which saved 23 tons of paper; participating in Earth Hour 2010 at its corporate headquarters in Downers Grove, IL; and reorganized food-carrying routes in North America for a reduction of 1.2 million miles and 240,000 gallons of fuel. According to Sara Lee’s sustainability report, in the 2009 fiscal year the company already reduced packaging for its deli products. The packaging team redesigned the deli tubs and they were able to reduce the size of the tub by 3/16 of an inch. It does not seem like a lot of material, but also with redesigning the pallet pattern and shipping case, the company took 900 trucks off the road and saved 284 tons of plastic. That sounds like a good step, but I still find the packaging overwhelming. It seems that to purchase a variety of lunchmeat and save the most packaging, it may be better for me to order my lunchmeat from the deli and have the deli worker put my orders in one bundle. That will reduce the amount of plastic I normally take home, and, as long as my plastic bag from the deli is clean and dry, I will have the option to recycle it.