It’s a wonder we have any trees left at all


It’s been perfectly fine with me to order even more stuff from Amazon during the pandemic, rather than going out to stores. I’m far from alone in this, of course. Completely sensible, and defensible.

Except for one thing: The packaging.

Today, we broke up some boxes as we prepared to put out the recycling. They come on Tuesday, normally, although we’re not entirely sure they will this time, on account of the holiday.

What you see above, in the midst of being dismantled, is the packaging for one item we ordered from Amazon — a new lightweight vacuum cleaner. We hadn’t bought one in quite a few years, and the old one had worn out. So, you know, defensible.

Except for the blasted packaging.

The machine was in the broken-down white “Shark” box at right, wedged into place by the shaped-cardboard thingies sitting atop it.

That box was in the one to its left, which was only slightly larger.

That one was in the huge box at far left, with additional packaging to hold it in place.

Not so defensible, I suppose. It’s a wonder, after all this pulp, that we have any trees left…

16 thoughts on “It’s a wonder we have any trees left at all

  1. bud

    I don’t typically boycott companies for political reasons. But I have one exception – Amazon. I am proud to say I’ve never bought anything from that grotesque company and never will. I encourage people to buy as local as is possible. But if you have to buy from a big company find another option than Amazon. They are the personification of the new gilded age.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      To be clear, my point isn’t that Amazon is evil. It’s a thing that has a HUGE impact on our lives, sometimes good and sometimes bad. It’s just the way things are.

      The world has changed. The way we shop is changing drastically, something that’s being accelerated somewhat by COVID.

      If it weren’t Amazon sending me all this packaging, it would be someone else.

      I think it’s something we need to think about, and address. So I bring it up. But I don’t think I’m getting all this packaging BECAUSE it’s Amazon…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        By the way, the package pictured only involves one piece from Amazon — the big box to the left.

        The rest seems to have come from Shark. Shark had doubled up — put the one box in another that was made to accommodate it — but I guess Amazon didn’t see that as enough protection, and put it all in the big box…

      2. bud

        Brad, I did understand the point of your post. I should have made that clear. Yes, excessive packaging is a problem and seems like one of those things that to me is just obvious and needs no commentary. Sort of like Trump taking hydroxychloroquine.

        So I shamelessly hijacked your post to dis on Amazon, a truly reprehensible and dangerous entity. Their business model is reeking havoc on smaller companies that are more environmentally responsible. Beyond that they bully their way into communities by promising jobs in exchange for huuge tax breaks. They mistreat their employees, steal product ideas from small venders and on top of all that pay very little federal tax. Now they are expanding into shipping and newspapers thus becoming vertically integrated at a level not seen since the gilded age. And now some experts predict Jeff Bezos will become the world’s first trillionaire within the decade. Sadly neither POTUS candidate will address this growing cancer.

  2. Doug T

    Yay Bud. I actually pay a little more to buy from a brick and mortar…or their website.

    On my 40 mile trek to work I see more and more clear cut land. Although we’re supposed to have more forests than 20 years ago I don’t see it. It’s a dilemma choosing between trees or plastic. I hate to see clear cut land thinking of all the flora and fauna that’s lost.

    On our way to our weekend shopping we pass a huge wood pellet producing plant. Makes me cringe. Although the company is supposedly advocating sustainability with the tree growers replanting, I don’t
    trust that at all.

      1. bud

        This illustrates the problem. Once a company gets so enormous you are compelled to add to their bottom line at some point. I’m sure my 401-K has Amazon included. But if you CAN find a non-Amazon option by all means support them.

        1. Barry

          I have customers that use Amazon to their benefit.

          Bought my son a $1400 trumpet last year through one of them. They were quite happy.

          I like Amazon and use them all the time.

    1. Mark Stewart

      I’ve been thinking about this, too. It does seem that way, that more logged lands seem to be visible. The Industry does move on a 40-60 year cycle (except for the quick trash growers) so maybe it is just that now is the time a lot of the blocks of timber nearest the roads are coming back into their harvest prime? IDK. It does feel like I’ve seen this cycle before though…

  3. Doug T

    What’s liberal going downtown in my small town and seeing nothing but empty storefronts? People have a choice where to shop. I prefer to support local businesses. What’s liberal about that?

  4. Norm Ivey

    I am a proud treehugger, but paper waste is not something I can get myself worked up about. First, wood is a renewable resource. Pulp in particular is a literal row crop in much of the south. Paper is recyclable. Even paper products that end up in the environment as litter are biodegradable (mostly). It a problem with relatively simple solutions.

    The only problem I’m having with paper is I still cannot find TP on a regular basis.

    I feel much more guilty about the amount of fossil fuel I burn than about the amount of paper I am responsible for.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Very good points, Norm, and well made. I probably should have posted a picture of those numerous insulated envelopes I get from Amazon, where the paper and plastic bubble wrap lining are permanently affixed to each other. Those worry me somewhat more.

      1. Norm Ivey

        Agreed. Bubble lined envelopes are the worst. Difficult to recycle as either plastic or paper.

  5. Realist

    I complain about the packaging at times, especially the bubble wraps that are not biodegradable. Otherwise, Amazon has basically changed the way we shop for products that do not require a personal inspection before purchasing and I use Amazon for several items I buy on a regular basis. Their auto-ship option is a great way to ensure high use products are kept in stock.

    Agree with Norm about the recyclable paper and cardboard that ends up in waste disposal sites.

    On the other hand, Amazon does support the USPS and uses them to ship most of their products. Another consideration is the convenience of not going outside or to the mall, etc. during the pandemic.

    Apparently, according to a few articles, there was a possibility USPS was not going to survive the pandemic because of the loss of income from mailings, etc. Wonder if this prediction is still in place?

    Other commercial outlets have adapted some of the same business practices used by Amazon. Walmart, Target, Kohl’s to name a few who have online purchasing options that is an indicator the trend is here to stay and enforced by the “new normal” created by the pandemic and social distancing recommendations that will probably stay in place for the near future. By then, the Amazon model will be an accepted practice for a large portion of the population. And as a reminder, at one point, Sears & Roebuck was the leader in catalog ordering along with Montgomery Ward, Macy’s and a few other name brand outlets.

    I also agree with using local businesses as a first option but given the fact that most local businesses cannot handle high volume and with the exploding population, the ability to handle high volume is a basic business requirement. Plus the fact that most cannot afford to purchase many of the products offered by local non-franchised business owners.

    The option is up to each individual with advantages offered by both choices. Up to you to decide.

  6. Bill

    I pop bubble-wrap when stressed and think about the man I used to call, ‘my Sequoia ‘…

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