Sustainability Challenges: Alternative Packaging and the Idea of Green by Default
As our effort known as Albatross SHAVES the World from Plastic progresses we have been striving to get in more retail stores. For small stores our standard fiber bag solution has worked brilliantly as a packaging means because it is quite easy to simply take the bags off the shelf and glance inside. As we approach what I will call ‘stores with aisles,’ which as you know sell plastic razors, we are often confronted with a resistance to our own resistance to using plastic packaging at stores. Stores with aisles specifically often make 2 main points:
Customer must see the razor itself
[This means we can’t simply place the razor in the bag and hang the bag on the shelf which would be the easiest and in our opinion best option]
Clear plastic packaging not only enables people to see what is inside, but it can be trusted to securely hold the contents
[This is more of an impression type of issue even though expensive cartridge razors do come in a sealed plastic package]
We find this unfortunate but acknowledge the reasons why. Customer tastes necessarily tie retailers’ hands: if a customer won’t buy it, or won’t even take the time to glance in the bag and see the razor inside, retailers can’t sell it. However, we ask: What will it take to get retailers to take a risk on Alternative Packaging? We ask this because we feel all retailers need to start taking opportunities to showcase products with low impact packaging.
Before we continue, I’d like to note that though bioplastics are exciting, many still take a long time to decompose and, the elephant in the room, continue to remain largely superfluous. They are still energy intensive to produce, must be shipped at some points in their life, and may not offer any further product protection. They are simply there because we think they should be, and companies have obliged us. Similar but slightly weaker arguments can be made for cardboard-- if it’s use is superfluous, it is a waste.
So, where do we go from here? Well, this is just the first post in what we hope will be a discussion. We at Albatross want to actively pursue better answers. We feel one important thing that must take place is creating signals to large retailers that we would rather have less packaging and especially not plastic packaging.
The idea of being Green by Default seems to mean something more applicable to describing, say, a default Print setting set to using double-sided pages or a light in front of a door to turn off after 3 minutes. But, can we make it apply to things like Alternative Packaging? What would this situation look like?
Would large grocery chains agree to guarantee X% of their products are packaged sustainably? Would other large retailers say, “We know stocking our shelves is a standardized process, and we also know alternative packaging can’t always be standardized but is otherwise important and good. We are willing to take risks [no blisterpacks] in how we hang our consumable goods.“