Thinking back to that last item you ordered on Amazon or bought from Costco, what did that packaging look like? Flashback to the holiday season when you get to dig through all this pretty packaging to get to the actual gift. Or for those people with young children the box that the toy came in is often the best toy of the whole day.
Lots of packaging is the tradition during many holidays - tissue paper, wrapping paper and pretty bows. Marketers are also creating consumption culture where packaging supports their product's marketing effort and protects the products for transport and delivery. Also known as over packaging, which describes products that are wrapped in more material than needed or that is wanted. Imagine buying your bulk toilet paper that is collectively wrapped in plastic, then you get home, open it up to use it, and they are all individually wrapped. Not only is this wasteful, but it’s also really annoying to the consumer and environmentally irresponsible by the brand. This really happened! A woman who was shopping at Costco had a particularly bad experience and she made rant about it, calling it "consumer proof-packaging."
Waste Diversion is a huge part in saving the planet from material being sent to landfills and incinerators, but we can’t just rely on that. Waste reduction means using less material to deliver products, this is a global process of optimization and it requires all stages of product manufacturing to do their part. Sustainability isn’t something that is going to be an easy change for everyone but collaborating and thinking about the long-term helps us understand that it’s a change that must happen.
Simply searching up over packaging you're guaranteed to see some ridiculous examples. Check out these ones we've found.
Why is this a problem?
Global plastic production is one of the biggest threats to the earth. In 2015, there was a forecast created which statistically represents the future trends in millions of tons of global plastic production up to the year 2050. Based on statista.com, plastic production in 2019 was calculated at 368 million metric tons. To a degree this forecast is looking reasonably accurate, and with the increase in ecommerce the amount of packaging seems to be increasing rapidly. That plastic stuffing used to keep your book, electronic or kitchen item safe from the dangers of shipping it becomes an issue when it's disposed of improperly and ends up at the landfill. Plastic is a lightweight, durable material which means its resistant to decay, instead it breaks down into micro plastics. Learn more about the tiny plastic particles here.
What can you do about it?
1. Vet the products you like and intend to purchase.- Make more of an informed decision when it comes to the materials and packaging used!
2. Buy in bulk
- Buying loose products that aren't pre-packaged will save you money and have the added benefit of reducing packaging waste. Stores such as Bulk Barn have a large selection of bulk products.
3. Reach out to your desired company or fill out their satisfaction surveys.
- Many companies are becoming more transparent with their business practices. By reaching out to their customer service teams through different means, will provide feedback for companies to take into consideration when developing better business practices.
Excessive packaging is a global issue, of course it will take effort from everyone, but it's starts with the customer applying pressure and voicing our concern. Although your efforts feel small, they do make an impact!