The Unsustainable Packaging Challenge

By Coalition Board Member Jon Helmuth

This tiny USB network adapter arrived at my house today- contained in a box designed to hold a college beer fridge, or perhaps a Christmas ham (Genesis vendors take note

Ahhhhhh- Not to worry, I thought, surely there must be a large owner’s manual or a 4 CD driver pack.  No, the manual was a small sticker that read “install CD driver before connections” and the included CD contained a driver the size of which even using my Mom’s Juno dial-up internet would have been a 1 minute wait.

It seems that we’re bombarded daily to reuse, reclaim and reduce and yet somewhere in the pipeline the message gets lost and things like this escape the same scrutiny. I think someone could easily design a reusable envelope and boxes that could be standardized into a shipping package system.

You may remember the inter-office memo envelope?  Just scratch out the name and write in the new one.  I bet some of the time one could even have the UPS driver wait 3 seconds while they open it and give the package right back to the driver. The driver then takes the package back to the distribution center where economies of scale kick-in and make the recycling or reuse of the packaging a profitable business.

I’m sure everyone reading this story can relate and have an example of unsustainable packaging. Send us your stories and we will post them to our site! What is the most unsustainable package you have come across? Go even further and send us a suggestion about how might it be made to be more sustainable? The best examples will be shared in out September newsletter!

If you want to read more about how companies and industries are tackling the challenge of sustainable packaging check out the non-profit GreenBlue – a coalition of businesses working to build “a world where businesses are leaders for environmental stewardship and products are designed from the start with sustainability in mind.”

And to finish my story — my USB device brought my home network back up and running and my 6 year old is enjoying playing inside the box it came in.

One thought on “The Unsustainable Packaging Challenge

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