Did the holidays make you think about all the excessive packaging that comes on consumer products? Or maybe you’ve been passing the mounds of trash left moldering on the sidewalk for the past week and, like me, have been like, “Srsly, WTF.”
Plastic wrap, cardboard, bubble wrap, plastic clam shells, boxes within boxes, twisty ties, bags, peanuts, wrapping paper, disposable ribbon, and on and on! It just doesn’t make sense that something would be manufactured just to be thrown away immediately.
The New York Times had a short blog post on this excessive packaging, but the meat is in the comments. (The people who comment on the Times website are unusually lucid and useful … or the moderator is just really good at his job.) Readers had some great suggestions for cutting down on excessive packaging, holiday-related or not:
1. Given the choice between two products, choose the one with less packaging.
2. When you buy something with that annoying, hard plastic shell, ask the cashier to cut it off for you. Tell them it’s annoying and vaguely dangerous to cut it off yourself and you don’t like it. Leave them with the annoying packaging. In fact, leave the pointless and excessive packaging of anything you buy at the cashier counter, whether it is a plastic-wrapped apple, or the box that comes around a tube of toothpaste.
3. For Christmas, one mother bought red and green pillow cases, dumped all the toys in them, and tied off the top with thick reusable ribbon. “I was surprised at how beautiful this packaging looked under the tree and how easy it was to clean up after… Of course, this way of wrapping became a family tradition.”
Similarly, one commenter paired up with her mom to buy fabric and make pretty bags they could use year after year at birthdays and Christmas, and easily store between celebrations.
4. Be ready to decline boxes and bags from retail and food stores alike. Carry your own little fold up bag or take the novel approach of just stuffing it in your purse. (Your purse is big enough, isn’t it?)
5. Take a cue from the Europeans, who started to protest against retailers in 2007 who used excessive packaging. The UK government got involved, and Tesco got the message, and started an initiative to cut down on excessive packaging.
6. When you get junk mail (I get two letters a week from Chase) stuff it in an envelope and send it right back. Or if you get a legitimate bill, but it comes with a lot of extra paper, do the same.
7. Wrap your Christmas and birthday presents in reusable cloth and secure with ribbon instead of tape. Or you could use traditional Japanese furoshiki wrapping cloth. It’s all the rage, and plenty of different styles can be found on Etsy.
8. When you get a product with excessive packaging, use the toll-free number on the back to give them a (polite) piece of your mind.
9. When you go online to Amazon, look for “frustration free” products that come in minimal packaging. Leave feedback about how great the packaging is.
Do you have any other suggestions for cutting down on your packaging waste? Leave ’em in the comments!