Thanks to a link from BrownPau, I learned that TreeHugger recently posted ten images of wasteful packaging. Ellen DeGeneres spoke about it in one of her stand-up routines, and I’ve had to deal with it so many times it drives me absolutely batty.
Packaging solutions in this day and age seem more like problems. From the USBs and scissors packaged in plastic so tough you need a pair of scissors to get to your pair of scissors, to the wasteful shipping material that goes into shipping your one-gram bottle of ethidium bromide, a lot of packaging is extremely wasteful and, frankly, quite hazardous to the environment.
When Apple relaunched its line of Macbooks, it reduced the size of its boxes significantly, allowing more boxes to fit into less airplanes to ship more units. (Their laptops themselves claim to be more environmentally sound, using more earth-friendly materials.) Meanwhile, we continue to receive orders from overseas wrapped in plastic bubble wrap, then boxes inside boxes inside boxes. What in heaven’s name do I do with hundreds of little styrofoam peanuts? Feed them to styrofoam elephants?
I recently received a wireless mouse – my first-ever, believe it or not! – from a friend, and it, too, was wrapped in the toughest plastic case you can imagine. However, there were perforations along the top of the case, which allowed me to fold the plastic, then rip it open. Nevertheless, I can’t imagine how long it will take for that plastic to decompose. (Actually, I can; it starts at a thousand years.) Meanwhile, said mouse is safe and sound inside my reusable earth bag, which houses my laptop, all my wires, and my lunch.
I’m sure industrial designers the world over are thinking of more earth-friendly options to today’s packaging. Meanwhile, if physically possible and you can afford it, buy from your local supplier instead of ordering from overseas. The amount of gasoline you spend to go there – plus exercise and the opportunity to halubilo with another human being – is probably worth it more than the amount of packaging that goes into shipping certain products, plus the energy and gasoline. Support your local suppliers.