It could be a zero waste Christmas after all (well, next year maybe)

Filed in Blog by on November 5, 2008 11 Comments
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Excess packaging could become a thing of the past with Amazon\'s \'Frustration Free\' packagingIt’s time to let go of your Wrap Rage, folks!

Over on the fabulous ‘Aiming Low‘ blog, Katy ( who describes herself as a “sort-of-novice triathlete trying to minimise the waste she generates”) shared the exciting news that Amazon are working hard to reduce their ‘frustration packaging’. That’s unnecessary plastic, wire, clamshells (that hard plastic that just wants to take your new goodies prisoner for life) and general guff that ends up in the landfill to you and me.

Their Press Release indicates that Amazon are working with some of the big boys – notably Fisher Price, Mattel, Microsoft and Transcend to make the environment a better place. Actually, the focus and emphasis is on customer satisfaction, but I don’t care what it’s wrapped up as; as long as the landfill is liberated I’m doing one of my happy dances for a great step in the right direction. It’s only for our US friends at the moment, but it should be winging its way (unfortunately not emissions free) here by 2009.

In the not too distant future then, a memory card will come to you in an envelope – yay! Rather than a hard plastic clamshell – boo! And toys will not be held ransom in their packaging by enough wire ties to keep gardeners happy for a year or two.

Ok, so this bit is a tad Mrs-Green-Goes-all-anally-retentive, but check out these stats. One of the first products to launch with Frustration-Free Packaging is the Fisher-Price Imaginext Adventures Pirate Ship. The new packaging eliminates:

36 inches of plastic-coated wire ties.
1,576.5 square inches of printed corrugated package inserts.
36.1 square inches of printed folding carton materials.
175.25 square inches of PVC blisters.
3.5 square inches of ABS moulded styrene.
two molded plastic fasteners.

That’s obscene isn’t it? 3 FEET of plastic coated wire ties?? I feel a dustbin demon coming on. But the good news is, I’d better write it up fast before these landfill layabouts disappear from toys for ever!

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (11)

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  1. Kris says:

    Hooray – an end to having every bit of yourself pawed and mauled as the toddler in receipt of the new toy desperately tries to get at it, while you, the adult, desperately try to get at it for them…

    My personal bugbear is the sealed clamshell packs that mean you buy your item in the shop and then can’t get at it in the car because all your pointy implements are at home! Though I quite like the ones that reseal with plastic push-bobbles, as long as they’ve got a moulding that bears some reusing.

  2. esther says:

    Yep, got that christmas scare again! all those platsic wrappings, and you also have to be a technician to open these things most of the time, they’re screwed and tightened with metal/plastic stuff….I really have to ask my mom and husband to come up with other ideas for the kids!

    great info that they will reduce the packagings:!

  3. Poppy says:

    Share your frustrations completely.

    One of the most annoying ones we had, was a toy car given to J when we spent Christmas in Tenerife a couple of years ago. This was actually screwed into the box! Luckily Mummy is a bit sad and does carry a screwdriver in her little bag of ‘might needs’. πŸ™‚

    As for the wire ties, I do save all these and use them over the year. They do gradually seem to disappear.

    The moulded plastic packing is my biggest bug bear!

  4. Katy says:

    Glad this caught your eye! I especially hate the tough clamshell packaging as I have managed to cut myself on it several times in the past while attempting to retrieve what I have actually bought. It really is overkill.

    By the way, my personal description is because I already had another blog about triathlon training, and on Blogger it seems I have to have the same profile for each one? It’s not that triathlon is a particularly wasteful sport or anything!

  5. Di Hickman says:

    One of my biggest peeves is the packaging the is formed and molded around the object. The evil stuff they wrap items in that’s sealed all around. Ironically scissors come in this packaging! Yes you need scissors to OPEN the frickin package of scissors! INSANE! Plus it ends up totally ruined, so you can’t reuse it for anything, and usually it’s pretty lethal with lots of sharp edges. Whoever invented that packaging needs stringing up by their privates!
    Rant over, lol!

  6. Naomi says:

    Rant on. When we moved, we generated so much trash because of all the things we needed to get settled into our new house. It was humiliated to generate so much waste but really, there wasn’t a way around it. And so much of the packaging was downright dangerous; curtain rods come in difficult to open long plastic containers that put you at risk of looking like you made a suicide attempt or worse.

  7. Mrs Green says:

    Kris – you’re right; the stress for the kid is unbearable sometimes. there is a gallery on Amazon of images of people who have hurt themselves with this sort of packaging. And there is one of a crying toddler as her Mum attempts to get the toy out of the packaging; it’s really sad πŸ™

    Esther – things are changing over here. In ELC now, most of their toys come in cardboard boxes WITHOUT a plastic window in them. Often they are still tied in with plastic wires, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Buying from a craft stall is a good way to go and helps to get the money straight into the producer’s pocket πŸ™‚

    Poppy; that’s madness isn’t it. I have to say, a screwdriver is not in my handbag as a ‘must have’ accessory; lucky for you it is though!

    Ouch, Katy; I find you end up with sharp edges on the plastic, which is what I have cut myself on in the past. Thanks for heading up the story; it is a great one and hopefully one which can lead the way for other manufacturers and retailers.

    Di! πŸ˜€ Scissors in that packaging – I hear you LOL! I thought for one horrific moment you were going to suggest that the inventor should have the packaging shoved where the sun doesn’t shine. Glad you got that off your chest though!

    Naomi; we’ve started, very slowly and tentatively to leave packaging in the shop. I don’t have the courage to do this in a supermarket queue yet, but will do in a home furnishings shop or similar. I can just imagine the amount of stuff that was generated from a housemove – it doesn’t bear thinking about.

  8. Marie Phillips says:

    My moan is that with arthritis taking its hold in my hands, it is not only difficult but downright painful to try to open containers. I have to ask hubby to open such things as plastic milk bottles and toothbrushes. Good thing amazon is trying to go a bit greener.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    Ouch, Marie; I can see how that might present a lot of difficulties. Let’s hope things become easier in the future.

  10. Peter says:

    It was reusing those plastic ties on rubbish bags and around the garden that first got me pondering about what ended up as the RE:tie cap idea.: http://www.junkk.com/junkkdetail.asp?slevel=0z622z709&parent_id=709&renleewtsapf=1828

    This has now evolved in design with input from such as Age Concern and we are trying to create a version that not only is reusable but we hope also easier to unzip for guys like Marie, either manually or by offering a small aid.

    A prototype is being made now, and I look forward to sharing it for your thoughts when it’s ready.

  11. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Peter; it’s good to hear of the inspiration behind ideas. We look forward to hearing of any developments too πŸ™‚

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