Monday, March 24, 2008

The Pain of Packaging

OK - I'm on a rant. Be prepared!

For Easter this year, my son got toys from his Nana. While we don't really need more toys, I understand the need she feels to spoil him. But that's not what's got my panties in knot.

PACKAGING!!! When on Earth will these toy companies get with the program? For one Little Tykes toy truck I had to undo countless pieces of wire holding it onto the cardboard, cut apart tape, peel away two layers of non-recyclable plastic, and in the process, I was stabbed by a piece of wire that wasn't coated on it's end. I am NOT impressed.

My son got a Fisher Price farm - the barn and it's contents were new to him, but not new from the store. That got two thumbs up from me. The truck that accompanied it was by Little Tykes - it's getting a F for it's packaging practices.

Whatever happened to putting the toy in a box with a picture on the front. My son was recently given a vintage Little Tykes schoolbus that someone had purchased years ago and never used. It came in a box - a regular box with an attached lid. I was thrilled! This way you could reuse the box if you wanted to. Yes, there was a little bit of plastic inside (a bag with the little people in it) but not near the packaging they use today.

I have to ask - what does it say about us as consumers that we allow this to happen? That we allow the toy companies to not only influence what our kids think they need - but that we go against our values and buy them - packaging and all! Something's gotta give. If we don't take a stand and tell these companies how we feel, they will continue to do this. Why do we need to see the whole toy before we buy it? A picture on the box used to do the trick, but now we want the whole thing encased in plastic so we can see it all. BAD BAD BAD! Shame on us and shame on the toy companies. (and let me tell you, they aren't the only ones that do this)

I'm tired of a ton of wire, tape, unrecyclable plastic and cardboard that is only fit for recycling. I want a box I can keep that toy in so all the parts stay together. I do NOT want to be throwing away my child's future along with the packaging. It's bad enough all these toys are plastic - but at least we can take care of them and pass them on to other children over and over so they have a useful life.

I'm the first to admit I've bought toys like these - I even have a few in the cupboard to give to my son later in his life - but now I think I'm going to take a stand. I am going to head back to the kid's swapmeets to buy his toys. I'm going to buy him toys without packaging or that are made without all the bad stuff (IKEA - this is where you win with some of your stuff - not all, but some)

And while I'm at it - what is wrong with the Overwaitea / Save On Foods chains? They sell eggs in styrofoam cartons????!!! I applaud their good sense to introduce their Changes centres to help give incentive to people to return packaging for recycling - but they won't touch these. Western Family Eggs - NOT good for the environment. And even those that are in flats are packaged with plastic film that's not recyclable.

This week I'm going to write a letter to Fisher Price, Little Tykes, and Jim Pattison's grocery store chains(again on the last one- they don't bother to reply, either) and tell them just how bad they rate with these products and what I'd like to see (cardboard and recyclable materials at the very least) in the future.

Heck - while you're at it, do the same. Tell all those companies that package things in wasteful ways just how bad they are for the earth. Tell them to change or you won't buy. Money talks and if we all made the choice to avoid until they do right, they would change. They'd have to or else they'd go out of business.

This week - put your pen to paper and your money where you mouth is. Speak up with your words and your pocketbook.


Maisie said...

Jackie, I could just see you fuming as you wrote this. LOL!!

I have to totally agree with you though.

The boys got a couple of chocolate eggs on Sunday. Cadburys put theirs in a type 3 plastic package and then the cardboard outer.(only cardboard recyclable here in UK)
Nestle (for once good) put theirs in a type 1 plastic package and then the cardboard outer.(all recyclable here in UK)

Brenda said...

On the topic of refusing to buy based on packaging...

I shop at Safeway and usually try to support their in-house brand of healthy foods, Eating Right. The one product I absolutely love is their bread - super healthy and comparable in price to other larger brands.

Within the last month they have started to double wrap their bread, which drives me crazy because for millions (!) of years bread has managed just fine in only one bag. As soon as I saw the double packaging I stopped buying it. I was so upset that I wrote them a letter on their online comments form and told them I would no longer buy their bread and that I had convinced several of my colleagues to do the same. These same colleagues also wrote letters of their own.

Safeway replied and told me they were sending my comments on to their "Private Label Department for further review." That was 2 weeks ago. I'm still waiting to hear from them.


Soap Hope said...

Instead of boxes and packing materials, our company wraps orders in reused clean cardboard boxes from local retailers who would otherwise scrap them. We call it the "Ugly Box." Customers really appreciate this packaging, which they can put in the recycle bin.

We also invest 100% of profits each year (yes - all of our profits for a period of a year!) into organizations that provide loan capital and business training to women in poverty, so they can start their own businesses and pull themselves and their communities out of poverty.

Our company is called Soap Hope, it sells all-natural body care products online at our store We won't carry any product that has artificial colors, aromas, or preservatives.

Small businesses like ours that are doing good don't have multimillion dollar marketing budgets like the corporations that create so much waste and harmful ingredients. As conscious consumers it's up to us to teach others where to shop and what products to support.

Big companies learn from the innovations of small businesses. When you support small businesses with responsible practices, it can drive those practices into large corporations.

If you like our business model, please spread the word about Soap Hope and other socially conscious companies like ours.