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Frustrated customer calls out pen company for false advertising on packaging: 'The irony is stunning'

"Average greenwashing."

"Average greenwashing."

Photo Credit: iStock

If you want to reduce waste and pollution in your personal life, one common piece of advice is to look for high-quality, long-lasting products made from eco-friendly materials to replace disposable plastic options. 

This is still good advice, but you should watch out for companies that will send supposedly eco-friendly products wrapped in polluting plastic. One frustrated Redditor just shared an example after ordering what was supposed to be an environmentally friendly pen.

What happened?

The Redditor posted a photo of the product on r/Anticonsumption. "All of this packaging for 1 pen," said the disillusioned buyer. "To make matters worse, it's a pen advertising being 'environmentally conscious' sent in plastic and paper."

"Average greenwashing."
Photo Credit: Reddit

The photo shows a Reborn recycled aluminum pen from Goldstar. According to the packaging, it's made with a 100% recycled aluminum barrel and reusable ink refills, all according to the company's trademarked "Made Better" philosophy, which is explained in detail.

All of that text and the splashy color graphics fit on the package because it's much larger than necessary. The single pen comes in a package large enough for at least a dozen, with an outer plastic sleeve, a double layer of printed cardboard, and a molded plastic tray marked "please recycle."

Why is the packaging a problem?

Wasteful packaging drives up product prices and creates extra trash for buyers to deal with.

It's even worse when it's attached to a product that's advertised as green. People often pay extra for an item that will cause the minimum damage to the environment — and then receive a package full of polluting plastic and other unnecessary materials. Some consider it misleading greenwashing, and many buyers get frustrated about the experience.

"The irony is stunning — and the amount of BS marketing as well," said one commenter before quoting the pen's package. "'2023 innovative product of the year'!? It's a normal pen for Christ's sake."

"Average greenwashing," concluded another user.

What is the company doing to reduce waste?

Goldstar did not respond to The Cool Down's email request for comment on the packaging practice. 

Goldstar is a promotional product manufacturer, so it offers a wide range of products, such as pens, cups, totes, notebooks, and backpacks. Among them are almost 50 "Made Better" products, which the company claims are made from "recycled and thoughtfully sourced" materials. Offering this option to companies looking for branded items could help reduce the amount of unrecyclable plastic junk produced.

However, there's still a lot Goldstar could do to improve its approach, particularly updating its packaging.

"I know the recycled cardboard packaging is so cliche for green products, but that's because it's actually consistent with the stated goal," pointed out a commenter.

What can I do to cut back on plastic waste?

Whenever possible, choose reusable products over disposable plastic ones to save money and minimize the amount of plastic going to the landfill. That includes water bottles, razors, coffee products, and anything else you can easily replace.

Also, try to support companies that offer plastic-free packaging whenever possible.

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