A non-zero waste present :(

Filed in Blog by on January 12, 2009 12 Comments
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snow queen and sleigh with excess packagingOn Friday we shared our joy at finding Ventus, who really thought about their packaging and the impact on the environment with their products.

Little Miss Green is big into fairies, Unicorns and other lovely imaginative things and she had her eye on a Snow Queen sleigh in ELC, pulled along by two faithful reindeers. ELC are doing a lot to reduce their packaging, which I could tell you all about, but instead of me reinventing the wheel, why not pop over to Mrs A’s site for the full run down. She did a great post about ELC and their packaging before Christmas.

We agreed to buy Little Miss Green this sleigh and were delighted to see a cardboard box with no plastic interface. Things started to go amiss, however, when she took it all apart on Christmas morning.

No doubt, you’ll recognise these fellas from some of your own purchases:

plastic packaging on toy

Honestly, it took LMG about 15 minutes to separate the present from the cardboard box. This was ok; she’s seven, and, as she likes to call herself; ‘deft of hand‘ (gotta love Enid Blyton books) but if we had bought this for a younger child, I could see them being in floods of tears with frustration by the time we had released it all. Here she is, ten minutes after getting into the wrapping paper, still trying to get her toy out to play withΒ  – look at the concentration on her face LOL!

concentrating on getting the toy out of the packaging

EACH hoof was TIED with one of those plastic ties; I don’t mean wound around, I mean tied. WTF? Ok, so LMG has a great imagination, but even she knows they are unlikely to run out of their own box before Christmas.

toy tied with plastic

In the end we were left with this pile of non recyclable packaging materials:

left over packaging from a snow queen sleigh

I’ll grant you, it’s not bad in the grand scheme of things and compared to other companies, but I feel a lot of it is still unnecessary. The ties have been salvaged in true zero waste style and will be used to attached growing tomato plants to their stakes in the summer, but the rest of it ended up in the bin.

She’s asked for some more figures from the set for her Birthday – maybe I should go into the store with a set of pliers and leave my packaging at the till; I may be gone some time πŸ˜€

What about you; did Santa deliver any unpleasant surprises? Are there any rogue companies we need to steer clear of if we want zero waste gifts next year?


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 (12)

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  1. Sarah says:

    Ooooh, plant ties! I didn’t think of that! I shall start saving those things when they show up here instead of chucking them.

  2. Greenlady says:

    Heh. Actually, I saw those and thought either plant ties or freezer bag ties. I can’t think of a use for those little holey bits of plastic though.

    Most Christmas stuff I got was in the form of chocolates or biscuits ( if you work with elderly people you are guaranteed to eat your own weight in confectionary each and every Christmas, bless them ) so a lot of the packaging was recylable or reusable, apart from some plastic bits.

  3. Layla says:

    Well, the cardboard & no tons of plastic bags & styrofoam is a good idea.. I guess they tied them so they wouldn’t move around & crush.. BUT they could use nice hemp rope to tie, no? & the holey plastics could be numbered with appropriate plastics number and recycled..? (or heavy cardboard instead? not sure what would be better..?)
    I suppose the tiny reindeers are too delicate for any 3year-olds anyway..
    Would be more interested in what the prettiness of the coach & reindeers is made of, & if IT can be recycled…?

  4. Layla says:

    Oh, and I agree about the chocolates.. Older people have some terrible fondness for those.. At least grandma got us bitter chocolates & some raisins/dry fruit and such in a ‘recycled’ box (!)
    /They were still not organic and chocolates weren’t 70% which are supposed to be healthiest, & with plastic foil.. but I think it was a nice try from her in a ‘right’ direction… Previously she’s been known to give the individually silver-wrapped chocolates in a big plastic box & such../
    Oh, she got us some individually-wrapped ‘Milka milk chocolate’ finger-shaped ones too.. πŸ™ (I think less than previously though.. at least I hope so..)

    I sometimes wonder how recyclable the metal-foils from chocolate are.. (?) if at all.. And are those better than plastic foils..?
    Ideally I’d ‘bake’ my own chocolate, not so far yet.. πŸ™‚

  5. Mrs Green says:

    Glad to be of help, Ms B – that makes up for your idea about growing carrots in toilet roll tubes πŸ™‚

    greenlady; a detox might be in order for you soon then πŸ˜€ Still, at least you won’t need to put your bin on a diet after all those edible goodies. Good to hear you were left with minimal packaging.

    layla, the idea of hemp ties might be nice and I think that plastic holey things could be replaced with cardboard too. I rather doubt that the toy itself can be recycled, but I think they are some kind of resin. We have other things in the series and they are robust. Hopefully, they will be put away once interest is lost for LMG’s own children.

    Good news on Grandma’s choice of present; a step in the right direction is to be celebrated.

    We keep things like tiny pieces of foil and make them into a larger ‘ball’ for recycling. That way they don’t clog up the machines (apparently). Making your own chocolate sounds amazing!

  6. i straighten each plastic tie and use them in garden, also use the plastic spacers for odd jobs where more width is required, like larger branches.
    each spacer may be a toy building component in a glue or tie together construction project.
    good quality toys must be preserved for posterity of course.

    i enjoy a child engrossed in the practice of patience, great training for many adult tasks, like scientific studies, detailed arts etc..

    as for sweets? dark chocolates are calling my name now, dandelions will be on duty to cleanse my wintry excesses.
    beets and chicory romaine lettuce do the trick for now.

  7. indiebird says:

    I don’t know about LMG but I get frustrated with trying to get a toy out of the packaging!!! Grrrrr!!! The thing that annoyed me the most though was what looked like a lovely bead making set from Toys R Us that when DD opened the box to get it out was a plastic storage box sitting in a huge piece of moulded plastic inside a cardboard box!! Not only was dd disapointed that it was smaller than she thought from the size of the box, but surely with a plastic storage box, there was no need for packaging was there? ….is it me?????!!!!!

  8. LOL – I can see you in the store with your pliers. πŸ˜€

    But seriously, these things are no joke! We were lucky enough not to get any this Christmas which absolutely astounded me. May be family and friends are getting to know me better. We use the little ties for plant ties too and ours came in handy this year for attaching orange slices to our Christmas wreath but imagine all those that just end up going to waste. There must be billions of the damn things. I can’t wait to see how things change by this time next year. With companies such as ELC and Amazon understanding the wants of their customers and rolling out their new expectations to their suppliers, who knows what will happen πŸ˜€

  9. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Nadine, I’m loving to see your creative re-use juices flowing; though I’m sure that comes naturally to you. Patience is indeed a good quality to foster in children. I was amazed how much of LMG’s patience all but disappeared when she was in school. it is returning, but has taken a long time to shake instant gratification from her bones.
    Enjoy the dandelions when they show their spiky leaves.

    We’ve had similar gifts, Indiebird – a friendship bracelet set that had more packaging than product. Beads are a similar problem, as you have discovered. It’s such a shame and only delivers disappointment.

    hey mrs A – I can feel a tv show coming on – Mrs G going into the shops with her toolkit ready to free trapped reindeers everywhere. πŸ˜€ Let’s hope things continue to improve and what a great Christmas for you with none of this dreadful packaging!

  10. Kris says:

    The best ways to buy beads are loose ones at an event if you get a chance (got to keep your eye out for these, but last year I saw several notices directing me to places such as Uckington Village Hall and Bishops Cleeve Tithe Barn) where a small company was visiting with lovely beading supplies) or a shop.

    Alternatively a good method is to look for a plastic compartmentalised box full of beads as it fulfills its own storage needs and can be used for some other mini sortable thing afterwards. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this sort of thing in mainstream places – gift and toyshops. And for those local to here – Taurus Crafts does both boxfuls and loose beads.

    We had various chocolates and biscuits for Christmas (though more specific and less prolific than previous years which was great – in response to prompts) and I’ve been putting moulded inners into the bin several times recently. It’s felt a lot in waste terms so glad that those things really only come into our house once a year.

  11. Mrs Green says:

    Thanks Kris, I’ll look out for loose beads in the future – I think I’ve seen boxes of them in places like hobbycrafy and even argos??

  12. Kris says:

    Our packaging demon was slightly post Christmas and I’m going to name and shame Play.com.

    The other half decided to buy memory cards to do some computer backing up which are about the size of a postage stamp. Not only did they come packaged in A5 plastic moulded packs but every card came individually in a square cardboard box an inch thick. As they all came the same day I had difficulty getting the door open…

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