I can’t help myself! I review the shopping venues shelves, such as my local supermarket and Walmart, to investigate what manufacturers are doing to make the packaging of their products more sustainable. I have to admit that I focus on the negative. I really notice the packaging tragedies, and cringe to see just how bad it can get.
More disheartening is to see packaging actually get worse for some products. You’ve probably witnessed this: in an effort to sell more product, the cost is reduced by offering it in low quantities, using packaging that binds the multiples of “whatever” together. For example, Sam’s Club was selling (2) 1/2 gallons of juice that was bound together by an extra chunky [hard to remove] piece of plastic. The savings was minimal (ok, just enough to make me buy the pair!) but the guilt caused pause for thought. I had encouraged the bad practice by buying the product. The purchase caused more petroleum and other resources to be squandered, and added to the pollution that results from most all production at an industrial level. Finally, that extra chunk of useless plastic can’t even be recycled in my small town.
I did not go ahead and purchase the object of the latest assault to my little tree hugging brain. It was a coated/printed cardboard container for a 6-pack of Chobani yogurt (photo above) in my local Market Basket supermarket. By purchasing the prepackaged 6 you saved 11 cents! I LOVED the taste of this yogurt. It was also a brand to which I had loyalty and fondness, based somewhat on its marketing messaging, including using words like “real” and milk from “local farms”. But the fat excessive packaging is environmentally harmful and rather reverses the good that came from local purchases. Similarly, the marketing messages from Green Mountain Coffee have resonated with deep hypocrisy when this “fair trade”, organic focused company added the Keurig 1-cup to its product line (which Dunkin Donuts was delighted to add to ITS product offerings!). I don’t care what cup material was developed when the environmentally conscious spoke out against the original plastic cups, it still requires resources to make the dang cups and then a means to recycle them. These packaging practices are steps backward in sustainability.
But what’s a rant worth without a solution? I can offer four, and would be pleased to hear your ideas!:
1. Take photos of excessive or otherwise unsustainable packaging and post them to the The Long View facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thelongvieworg
2. Send us a note here at the Inspired Economist. Scott Cooney, our editor, wrote this story about excessive packaging 2 years ago, and look at the comments at the bottom–the CEO of the company in question wrote back and addressed the concerns!
3. Write to the offending companies explaining what is wrong with the packaging. Expect to hear all kind of excuses, but let them know that you plan to spread the word to boycott.
4. Return excessive packaging to the store where you bought it (my favorite)
Best regards, Isa Cann of TheLongView.Org