Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day Sixty - Packing Nuts - Part II

How to Deal with a Packing Nut

Please see the disclaimer from yesterday's post. Note: I am STILL ranting!

To help avoid dealing with Packing Nuts, I think the best defense is a good offense. When shopping online, you will almost always be presented with a field box labeled "comments or special shipping instructions" on one of the checkout pages. Don't be shy, let them know before they ship your product what you expect of them. If you don't want them to use any plastic packaging -- say so. If you don't feel that your paperback book needs cushioning -- tell them. Odds are they will honor your request.

If, however, they choose to ignore you, remember that you can always return the product - with an explanation, of course. Other options include sending them an email, giving them a call or sending them a strongly-worded letter. Those can be really fun (and therapeutic) to write! Also, marketing analysts estimate that every letter received represents about 1,000 consumers. It's no wonder then that most companies collect this feedback and use that information to make changes to their products or services.

Don't forget to help other eco-conscious consumers know what they're in for by leaving packaging information in the customer review section (when available). If you asked the company to use minimal packaging and they ignored your request, make sure you put that info in the review. Maybe it's too late for your package, but it may influence other buyers, which, in turn, will get the company to take notice.

Sometimes, not matter how you try to avoid it, you're going to get packages from Packing Nuts. What's a girl/guy to do with all those non-biodegradable packing peanuts, plastic bags and enormous boxes? Well, you don't have to throw them in the trash, that's for sure. The simplest sollution is to re-use them yourself. If you e-Bay occasionally, ship Christmas Gifts to Grandma, or are planning on moving anytime soon, you may be able to put them to good use.

Another option would be to let someone else reuse your packing materials. There are a lot of individuals and companies who will gladly take these supplies off your hands! Put a post on craigslist or freecycle for "free moving boxes" or "free packing supplies". If you prefer to dump-and-run, check your local Mailboxes, etc., UPS Store, Postnet or eBay store. Most of them will be happy to take your clean packing materials and put them to good use.

Your last option is to recycle. If you can't find anyone willing to take that big cardboard box, at least curb it for recycling. Unfortunately, packing peanuts are not generally accepted at municipal recycling centers, however, if you really can't find anyone else willing to take them, you can send them via snail mail to RecyclePackingPeanuts.com and they will put them to use.

Just remember that you are the customer and, theoretically, you can request that they limit packing materials be used. Don't be afraid to speak up, and, when necessary, take your business to another company -- one with a greater eco-conscience.

Thank you all for enduring my two day rant on the inefficiencies of modern packing & shipping. I think I've gotten it all out of my system and should be back to normal tomorrow.


decook said...

You can also use the packing peanuts in the bottom of planters instead of rocks to help with drainage. It makes the planter much easier to move.

helenel said...

The UPS stores will also take your packing peanuts and re-use them.