June 3, 2011

Letters to Retailers - Use Sustainable Packaging---and I'll buy from You!

Write your retailers. Create the demand.  
(Bea Johnson taught me well)

I find that writing to retailers/wholesalers takes very little time, and for the tiny investment, I receive quite a compensation: the feeling that I am using my voice, shaping and promoting a sustainable demand, and living by design. The very act of writing a quick email infuses me with the resolve needed NOT to fall prey to consuming non-sustainable (or non-sustainably packaged) products.

I started with GlassLock and Dwellsmart. GlassLock...because they neglect to mention that their lids are made of polypropylene (for all I knew they were made completely from a type of silicone).

So, I vow to write my retailers whenever a product I wish to purchase is available only in non-sustainable materials or packaging. For now, I'm applying this to my repeat offenders, items I consume on a regular basis, such as foods, cleaning items, and other supplies that I know I'll need to purchase again and again. One-time buys such as computers are off the hook...for now. But if we who care create enough of a stir with the everyday goods, these one-off ticket items won't be far behind.

Someone's on our side. Check out GreenBlue and their project, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. Recommend them to your retailers?!?!

Have you written your retailers...or, are you inspired to give it a try the next time you notice that one of them isn't packaging responsibly?

May 25, 2011

Dear DwellSmart,

You have a very nice site. It's visually appealing; I want to shop here! But I have a problem. I noticed that while you sell Soap Flakes, you do not sell the product in its sustainably packaged form (cardboard), rather you sell it in the plastic bag. Both are available in 1-lb quantities, so I'm curious as to why you've chosen the plastic version. I also wish to encourage you to switch to the earth-friendlier packaging upon restocking. If you do, I'd certainly buy from you!

Stephanie in Berkeley


  1. Well... after sorting through a basement full of packaging materials that I had neglected to get rid of for the past 10 years, I am left with very mixed feelings about this whole topic. Certainly it's better to use sustainable products rather than plastic, but it's still a single use product, and I'm not sure that recycling the stuff (which probably means shipping it to China and back) is actually all that sustainable either.

    I'm having such an internal tug of war over this issue. I've spent most of the past few days driving around town looking for a shade cloth... I want one because we have a west facing deck with a sliding glass door and in the summer it really heats up the house, so the plan is to shade the deck so we can ultimately save on cooling costs and energy. But I can't find one locally... so I may have to buy it on line and get the packaging... but it's like the lesser of the evils because it can't be good to burn all of the gas driving around town looking for one either.

    Sometimes I think that I should open a storefront called the "Container Exchange". We could let people bring boxes, bottles, jars, packaging materials etc, and then people who need them for selling on eBay or whatever could come take them... and maybe we could get enough donations to cover the cost of having a place to do it. It's probably just a crazy pipe dream, but maybe it could work?


    BTW - I recently noticed that Amazon.com has a new system where you can give feedback on their packaging. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200325950

    And I have noticed that the last few times I ordered something from them it came with brown paper padding instead of plastic. I suppose it's a step in the right direction.

  2. Hey ECL,

    I feel your pain. Considering the necessary evil of packaging in many instances, however, I think demanding sustainable packaging is a worthwhile thing to do. But again, in this instance you're purchasing a one-off product. I'm still exempting those types of items from my no-buy list.

    And, that's so cool about Amazon's packaging feedback option. Thanks for sharing!