‘Tis The Season

Posted by — November 22, 2011 9:45 pm

So the holidays are upon us once again and from every media source possible, we are stridently urged to spend, consume and buy at all hours of the day and night.  Gone are the days where one can enjoy  their Thanksgiving around the table with family and friends – nope, Thanksgiving has turned into the day when you start the shopping push.  Black Friday almost seems antiquated.

With all the goods vying for our attention, I believe it’s still possible to be a conscientious consumer.  We are all aware of the excessive plastic packaging that comes with our purchases.  Clam shell packaging for small items which are prone to theft, electronics that are encased in plastic sleeves, held by cardboard, in boxes – it goes on and on.  There’s even a name associated with the frustration that comes in trying to open these types of packaging:  WRAP RAGE

However, there are some manufacturers who are trying to reduce the waste their product packaging produces.  Several electronics companies are reducing waste by using paper cartons that are made from 90% recycled landfill paper pulp or streamlined cardboard shipping containers.  Others are using bamboo (which is wonderfully compostable) as a replacement for cardboard.  Some manufacturers (anticipating the short life of a cell phone or laptop computer) are even including a prepaid shipping label in the package.  With the pre-paid label, the consumer can reuse the same box the product came in when it was the hottest item on the block, and ship it right back to the manufacturer.  These companies are promising that by doing this, the old product is safely recycled or disposed.

Clam shell packaging  – what can be said about this pervasive form of packaging that you see almost everywhere?  Most clam shell packages are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and that’s often difficult to recycle, says Tod Marks, senior editor for Consumer Reports magazine. However, more and more eco-conscious companies are using PET plastics for their clamshells and mark their packaging accordingly.  Better yet, on a recent shopping trip, I realized that some products in clam shells were right next to the same type of products on recycled cardboard (I was looking for a new pair of scissors).  And lo and behold, the scissors on the recycled cardboard were cheaper.

The holidays should be fun and filled with generosity.  At the end of the day (or the evening of December 24), if we take a little extra time and pay a little more attention, we can make wiser purchasing decisions, and that should make everybody a little happier, including our planet.




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