I ordered a purse last week from my favorite online retailer, SundanceCatalog.com - a clothing, jewelry and home decor company owned by Robert Redford. You know - the actor/director/producer/environmentalist.
The bag arrived on my doorstep just two days after I ordered it. It's a light-weight shoulder bag "made of super supple" suede. And although it could have easily been wrapped and folded into an average-sized manila envelop, instead it was packed in a large cardboard box stuffed with tons of scrunched up paper.
Recyclable? Sure. A waste? You bet.
It seems the company that cares about "preserving the naturally beautiful and unique environment" (according to it's website), needs to rethink its packaging policies.
I don't mean to pick on Sundance or call Redford a hypocrite...it's still my favorite online retailer. However, this story provides the perfect example of how much waste is generated by packaging and in particular, shipping - which is huge business thanks to the explosion of online shopping.
One of the worst offenders in terms of shipping has got to be Amazon. I'm sure you've unpacked a CD, DVD, book or other small item from a massive cardboard box from Amazon, and been stunned by not only the size of the box, but also by the number of plastic air-filled pillows crammed into that box.
Software is also a perfect example of packaging gone wild. All you bought was a small CD - yet it's packed into a box the size of a dictionary. Wouldn't it work just as well to sell it in a CD-sized jewel case?
You can see other examples of packaging waste by going to TreeHugger.com, and viewing the finalists in its "Waste of Packaging" Contest. But you don't have to be classified as a "tree hugger" these days, to recognize rampant waste when you see it.
California has been working on this issue for a decade now. According to the state's Integrated Waste Management Board, "every year Californians generate 66 million tons of solid waste, of which approximately one third is packaging." And although state officials say they've been working with retailers and manufacturers to reduce packaging waste, other than the use of more recycled materials, have you seen any evidence of a reduction in packaging?
While the whole war on bottled water issue is getting a ton of press this summer, including last week here on this blog and in Sunday's NYTimes, I think it's only a matter of time before packaging becomes the next target as Americans try to live their lives in greener fashion.
Do you have a good example of packaging gone wild? Do you know of a retailer, manufacturer or shipper who is paving the way for less-wasteful packaging? Click below on "Comments" and tell us your story and your opinion.