Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Your Opinion Does Count

Dave had an insightful response to my post yesterday about excess packaging. His is the first comment on the post. Take a minute to read what he had to say...

I also added to what I had to say as well and here is an excerpt..

It is unfortunate that the size of the package is dictated by the amount of print or advertising needed rather than the size of the product. It seems like a single display box for the shelf with multiple smaller bottles still might suffice. I guess ultimately it comes down to marketing. At least with the Robitussin I bought (in generic form) the bottle was full, and the box was only as big as the bottle.

I know that companies who make an effort to be more environmentally friendly weigh heavily in my decision on which products to choose but ultimately my choice usually boils down to price and value. With drugs, which item is most effective, then secondly which of the most effective choices is cheapest. It certainly doesn't help that company though if upon opening a package, my impression is that they have been wasteful in their packaging. It shadows my opinion of that company as a whole and makes it less likely that I will be a repeat buyer. On the flip side, when I am pleasantly surprised to see a company making efforts to be environmentally conscious in their decisions, I am left with a positive impression and am more likely to seek out that company or brand in the future.

I do see that some of it is dictated by law though.

For the mucinex, it wasn't a blister pack (for travel I like blister packs actually) and the bottle was huge compared to the amount of pills in it. The pills took up maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of the space in the bottle, and the bottle only took up about a 1/3 of the box! But guess what? Those boxes took up more shelf space and were highly visible compared to other cough supressants so I think in this case, the answer was pretty clearly marketing driven.

I think this is the reason it is important for consumers to keep harping on companies to change this way of thinking, and to try to use our buying power to encourage more eco-friendly choices in "marketing". Until it is proven to do more harm than good to the bottom line companies will continue to make choices based on monetary rather than environmental impacts.

I try to leave feedback with companies objecting to packaging waste when I can - which I did with the mucinex yesterday. I sent an email to the distributor. Unless it becomes clear to companies that their consumers really do care about stuff like this, they are unlikely to change their practices. Generally though, most companies value consumer feedback, whether it is positive or negative. After all, many spend millions soliciting that type of input through surveys, so it is pretty clear that they do ultimately listen to consumers and it is important (and generally easy) to log onto their websites and use the "contact us" option to voice our opinions!

1 comment:

Dave Hampton said...

I absolutely agree with your comments that the amount of waste packaging is a terrible problem. It consumes resources and energy to make, increases shipping weight and bulk size on counters, and creates a vast stream of litter and (sorted) household waste.

I'm surprised that it isn't more expense than it's worth to the manufacturers, who are always trying to cut unit costs, weight, and complexity. They must see some offsetting revenue benefit or they wouldn't do it.

We used to campaign against McDonalds because of the quantity of paper accompanying their meals: bags, napkins, wrappers, boxes. The focus was on how fast the stuff degrades; I don't think that we ever made a dent in volume.

I'm particularly struck by your comments as I am packing to go back to the Netherlands today: I buy lots of US-only things to take back, then unwrap it for packing efficiency. I'm sitting next to a small mountain of garbage that has no purpose to the product, whether food, clothes, medications, or electronics. It's wrong. I don't know the answer: it's pervasive.

Only new books seem immune to the problem: never wrapped or repackaged, totally recyclable :)