lookingforlissa

Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Commonsense environmental practices

Posted by Lissa on November 12, 2009

I consider myself a reasonable lover of Mother Earth.

Mike and I take public transport to work (though I freely admit it’s more for our convenience than concern over emissions).  We recycle paper, plastic and glass.  I wash out our Smart Balance and salsa containers to save for storage use.  I turn off the faucet while I brush my teeth or scrub my face.  We have plastic insulation sheets tacked up over our sliding doors to conserve heat (although, again, our concerns are more financial than environmental).  We certainly don’t litter; it’s uncouth.  I have reusable fabric bags that I bring to the grocery store each week.

I don’t, however, lie awake at night worrying about ocean pollution.  I have no interest in taking a test to “find out what age I should die at so I don’t use more than my fair share of the Earth’s resources.”  (And nice grammar there, numbnuts.)  I do not cry over dead trees.

And yet . .  and yet . . .

WHY, IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, DOES AN INCH-HIGH FABRIC POUCH REQUIRE A 9 x 9 x 18 BOX FULL OF PLASTIC PACKING???

Why?????

It’s as stupid as wrapping coconuts in plastic.  Dude — they’re COCONUTS. They’re not fragile, and you can’t eat the shell.

Way too much wrapping for some things, and way less-than-enough for others.

I’m sure there’s reasoning behind this, but I’m damned if I can guess what it is.

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4 Responses to “Commonsense environmental practices”

  1. Brad K. said

    Lissa,

    Economics.

    1) Sometimes buying a car (train car) load of 9x9x18 boxes is cheaper than buying a carton each of the right size.

    2) Sometimes little tin gods in some companies insist on micromanaging how many minutes each little person takes for break (counting minutes to and from the toilet), how many pens a month can be requested (two or less, no carrying forward to next month), how many parts per hour – so that no one working for the little tin god, or the rest of the company, is willing to risk doing anything right.

    3) Sometimes people make mistakes, and no one is smart enough to keep track of how their company’s products are being handled, so that the only feedback the CEO gets is the customer complaints that the customer service department won’t pass along.

    4) Have you seen the video on YouTube.com about “United Breaks Guitars”? A band watched baggage handlers tossing and flailing away with their guitar case during a plane change, and United Airlines refused to repair or replace the guitar on their arrival – to find the neck broke off one of the guitars they had planned to be using that night. Sometimes companies tie themselves into using a delivery option with a chain wide reputation, or a single bent employee, that destroys anything not packaged to survive the collapsing of the towers at ground zero. Rather than ponder “Wow, we sure get a lot of stuff broke – maybe we should look at a different company to carry our stuff” – the organization is tied in because the problem and the solution come out of someone else’s budget.

    One truism I carried away from 17 years in scientific programming – if you want something to improve, measure it. It turns out that you don’t have to even address procedures. If the people involved know that some supervisor or manager will notice, regularly, whether stuff improves or gets worse, they also pay attention to that metric. Want mileage to improve? Don’t pass laws – Barry Goldwater first proclaimed, “You can’t legislate morality,” (which is still true, regardless of what B. Hussein Obama and Congress Critters seem bent on doing, heh, bent, I like how that fits the B Hussein Obama/Reid/Pelosi cabal) just post the mileage. Want people to discard less plastic? Keep the numbers in front of people – the amount of landfill and ground water contaminated by discarded plastic, etc.

    There was a company selling computer and electronic stuff in California, back in the ’80’s I think – you know, 8 inch floppy drives, 1200 baud modems – that packed their products in air popped (no oil), unsalted popcorn. Worked a champ, if it stayed dry. And throwing it out made popcorn mulch, not plastic landfill stuffing. I liked the taste. But when I air pop popcorn I add a tablespoon of salad oil or melted butter.

    Today some manufacturers have gone to formed cardboard inserts for their computer component things, like hard drives, mouses, etc. Amazon.com has long been good about aggressively using enough packaging without going overboard.

    In Navy ROTC, LtCmdr Reader told us that it was said, anyone that didn’t shine the back of their shoes (which were required to be covered by the drape of the trousers in formation for inspection) probably didn’t wipe their butts – not a pretty visual image. That was some 39 years ago, that one stuck with me.

    When a company doesn’t think the way they package and ship their product matters, I worry about how they handle the rest of their business. And whether they wipe their butts after using the toilet.

  2. Brad K. said

    One more thing – Seth’s Blog just coincidentally picked up on why your concern is important.

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/11/cant-top-this.html

    And the Amazon double lid shatter? That was shipped by a subscribing vendor, not Amazon.com. I was reassured to see that Amazon.com noticed, and cared for the breakage even though they hadn’t messed up shipping the lids.

    Please excuse me. I have to wash the one salad plate that I can use instead of a cover for my 1 qt. Rival Crockette crock pot I picked up at the flea market.

  3. Minnie said

    I actually had to watch that video three times to determine if it was a joke.

    Really?

    Honestly?

    I don’t even have words.

  4. Dr. Feelgood said

    I suppose they wrap coconuts in plastic to prevent them from drying out. Personally I only buy the unwrapped ones; and I want hard shells, good heft, and lots of liquid sloshing around inside. Since they seem to sell rather slowly, perhaps the plastic keeps them salable past their prime.

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