Sunday, November 18, 2007

Day 125 - Back From Whence It Came

Sending Back Unwanted Plastic

I know I've mentioned doing this before, but I thought I'd make it all official with its very own post. This is a great idea that I totally stole from Beth at She's chock full of great ideas about how to avoid plastic and the she doesn't seem to mind sharing them :-). Thanks, Beth!

Anyhow, sometimes people send you unsolicited plastic. Sometimes you inadvertently purchase it. However you got it, if it's not recyclable, think about sending it back. Beth does and now I'm going to do it too.

In fact, I already have. Twice this week.

The first items taken back were #6 plastic hangers. I was cleaning up the spare room, getting ready for company, when I found a whole stash of those white plastic hangers the kids pajamas came on. They're not something you can just separate while waiting in line at the store, because in their infinite wisdom, the manufacturer punches tags through the individual tops and bottoms, as well as the hanger. This results in a hanger that cannot be physically removed from the clothing until you get some free time and a set of garden shears.

There was a manufacturer name on the hangers, so I looked them up online and gave them a call. Turns out they manufacturer hangers for Target, Walmart and the like. They rely on the stores to return the hangers to them who, in turn, get the hangers back to the manufacturers for reuse. They went on to tell me that I could not ship the hangers back to them, but that any Walmart or Target store would be happy to take them back.

Turns out, it's actually TRUE! I went to Target this week, swung by the returns counter and the lady happily took my hangers in threw them in a huge bin with a bunch of other hangers. Don't you just love it when the circle of "use, return, reuse" actually works?!

The other plastic I got came from a very unlikely source: My new Wind-Farm Energy Supplier. Surprised? I was too. I was shocked to find in my Welcome Package a plastic film meant to be placed over a light switch that touts the advantages of switching your energy supplier to one who utilizes a renewable energy source. Yeah, hmmmmmmmm. I guess I'm having a lot of WTF moments this week. Anyhow, here's what I sent to them (along with the plastic film):

November 14, 2007

Kristy O’Hearne
Product and Operations Manger, Green Electricity
Pepco Energy Services
1300 North 17th Street, Suite 1600
Arlington, VA 22209

Dear Kristy:

Thank you very much for welcoming me to Pepco Energy Services! I am trying, like many Americans, to “go green” and look forward to obtaining my electricity from a renewable energy source!

I was disappointed, however, to see that you had sent a plastic film (PVC?) Switch Plate Cover with the welcome letter. As I’m sure you know, the production of plastic is a very polluting endeavor which releases a multitude of chemicals, including carcinogenic dioxins, into the atmosphere. It is also made from petroleum, a very limited, non-renewable resource.

I am therefore returning the plastic doo-dad to you for reuse. Please do not send me any additional plastics.

Thank you, Kristy! I look forward to helping fund the installation of more Pepco Wind Farms!



Pepco Customer, Concerned Citizen and Avid Blogger

It's like I'm getting ballsier by the minute, isn't it folks?


A dozen plastic hangers and one plastic film. In the course of a year, that's probably about 24 plastic hangers though. By the time my kids graduate high school and move out, I'll have saved over 400 #6 plastic hangers from the landfill!

Difficulty Level: 1 out of 5

These two items were pretty easy to return and the only cost to me was some time and a postage stamp. However, it might be more costly to send back other unwanted plastics, such as over-packaged stuff. Yet another reason to be diligent in my avoidance of packing nuts.


Green Bean said...

Ohhh! This is a good one. I hadn't thought of that. I got a Kill-A-Watt earlier this week and it came packaged in a giant non-recyclable plastic mess. I did shoot off an email to the customer service dept reminiscent of your letter above but then tossed the plastic package in the trash. Darn! Our trash has been picked up too. I'm SO doing this the next time I come in contact with unwanted plastic. :)

Anonymous said...

Yay for sending things back! I wonder how many people it takes to create a movement.

Doesn't it feel good to get that stuff out of your house and know that it's serving a purpose rather than sitting in a landfill forever?

Good tip about the hangers!

Jennifer said...

I loved your letter to Pepco..wonder if they'll send you a response or if it was a 'hey why didn't we think of that' type of response. I'm betting that the marketing department will be hearing about it. You Go!


Burbanmom said...

Green Bean- I LOVE my Killowatt! It's the best eco-geek gadget I own!

Beth -- How many for a movement? Hmmm. Well, we've got four here! That's a start!

Jennifer -- I will DEFINTELY post what, if any, response I recieve. That's the best part!

Thanks to all you guys for the comments. Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!