As Van Badham wrote this week, the people who have gone plastic free have all had some breaking point. After months of trying to be mindful of our plastic use, but accepting that for some things, it was inescapable, I was finally pushed to the edge by an article which reported that micro-plastic had been found in ice in the Arctic. THE ARCTIC. That, and finally internalising that recycling isn’t really a thing – it is just a distraction from solving the real problem of masses and masses of plastic that doesn’t need to be made.

So, now our household doesn’t get to eat strawberries, or blueberries, because of the little plastic punnets that they come in.[Update: now growing our own plants] Polyester is out, natural fibres, bamboo in particular is in. Milk in plastic bottles is out, waxed cardboard is in. The roll of Glad wrap that we have in the drawer is the last one I’ll ever buy, ditto for the garbage bin liners. Pasta in a plastic package is out, cardboard boxes are in.

Lush have a good range of solid shampoos (this one is particularly good – makes my hair fresh, and scalp non-itchy), and I’ll try their face-wash this week.

I’m struggling with inescapables: toothpaste, medicine, bread and cheese packaging.

I know on some level that our small family isn’t going to make a huge amount of difference in the scheme of things. There is already too much plastic. Some companies are trying to do the right thing, by offering corn-based plastics, but, it seems like there are a lot of problems with that too.

Anyway, we will continue to minimise our plastic waste, and, in doing so, we get to create a whole new category of complaint letters – emails to companies to complain about their plastic use.

Here is our first, probably of many, to Carman’s. Well, many emails in general, not specifically to Carman’s.


I am writing as I switched to your oats this week, thinking that I was doing the right thing as you are Australian owned, and I was happy with the cardboard packaging on the outside.  You can imagine my dismay when I opened the box and discovered that the oats were in a plastic bag.

You would be aware that Uncle Toby’s just come in a plain box, with no further packaging. Will Carman’s be moving in a similar direction? Please don’t tell me that the plastic is to keep the product fresh, as I have had no problems with the freshness of Uncle Toby’s.

And, here is their reply. I guess they tried, but, I’m not bedazzled by their response.

Thank you for getting in touch with us here at Carman’s.

We are sorry to hear that you were disappointed upon opening the box of our Traditional Oats.

We certainly hear what you’re saying in regards to packaging – we are currently working hard to develop solutions that deliver sustainable outcomes, both to reduce food waste and reduce single use packaging materials. We wish this was a simple undertaking, however we have to balance so many factors in getting our packaging solutions right – a meaningful sustainability commitment is not a quick fix.

Given we do not use any artificial preservatives in any of our products, the freshness of our oats is compromised when packaged only in a cardboard box. We cannot comment on what other companies are doing to keep their products fresh in packaging, however rest assured we are investigating how we can package our products in the most environmentally friendly manner whilst maintaining the high quality of our products.

Carman’s are a member of the APCO and a signatory to Australia’s Packaging Covenant. We are working hard to meet and better this commitment. We have an active strategy to achieve our goal of having all of Carman’s packaging be either recyclable or Recycle-Ready by 2020. We are progressing well towards our targets and have many collaborative projects and action plans in progress.

We hope this provides some clarity around the current packaging of our products, and restores your faith in the quality and environmental commitment of Carman’s and our products.

If you have any further queries, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

I think the allusion that their competitors spray their oats with some anti-stale preservative is a bit cheeky. But really Carman’s – it’s porridge. It gets cooked. It’s basically chunky flour. It’s a whole food. It doesn’t need plastic.

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