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Employee shares frustration online with photo of company's shipping method: 'It would be so easy to replace these'

"Can we get the info on this company to send them an email of complaint?"

"Can we get the info on this company to send them an email of complaint?"

Photo Credit: iStock

Online shopping has exploded in recent years, which has brought attention to many companies' shipping and packaging practices. Often, there's a disappointing amount of waste involved, with providers using unnecessarily large boxes and then throwing in extra padding to fill the empty space. 

One typical example recently surfaced in a Reddit post on r/Anticonsumption, a subreddit focused on reducing waste.

What happened?

The Redditor posted to complain about "these two wheels package I receive at my work." They attached a photo to illustrate the problem.

"Can we get the info on this company to send them an email of complaint?"
Photo Credit: Reddit

In the picture, a gloved hand holds two wheel assemblies designed to bolt onto the bottom of an object. They're small enough that the photographer can easily hold both in one hand. Behind them is the box they were shipped in, large enough to fit hundreds of the wheels, filled with chunks of black foam.

"Can we get the info on this company to send them an email of complaint?" asked one outraged commenter.

Why are these shipping practices a problem?

Shipping boxes 99% full of padding is terrible for customers' wallets and for the environment. Using oversized boxes means that any train or truck carrying cargo is going to be mostly full of padding and air — which means companies have to send many more shipments to deliver their goods. It costs more, and all that wasted fuel becomes air pollution that heats up the Earth.

Plus, the packaging itself is a problem. Shipping materials like this foam are often made of plastic, which comes from highly polluting oil and is likely to end its life as more pollution in the ocean. Even if it does get disposed of in a landfill, it will stay there taking up space for a hundred years or more.

What can the company do about this in the future?

Aside from the obvious solution of "use a smaller box," commenters offered some helpful ideas for the provider.

"It would be so easy to replace these with those cornstarch packaging peanuts that stick when you put water on them," said one user. "That would be very sustainable because they're biodegradable and not a big cost difference as far as I know."

What can individuals do about this type of waste?

Consumers can work to ensure they are supporting eco-friendly initiatives by their favorite brands. 

The original poster has options for recycling all that foam — and so does anyone who receives a similar shipment. 

"Oh those panels could be a cheap way to soundproof (or at least muffle sound in) a room if you know anyone that plays an instrument," said one user.

"Or one could use them to stuff a pillow? Maybe OP knows a place where people are sewing?" another commenter replied.

"These guys are hooking up garage bands and wargamers left and right," said a third Redditor.

Finally, you can also explore alternatives to plastic packaging for your personal use. Researchers are hard at work developing replacements for plastic in all kinds of applications.

Join our free newsletter for easy tips to save more, waste less, and help yourself while helping the planet.

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