Thank you for all of your thoughtful responses, insights and questions regarding the Green Waste article. One of the cornerstones of Backpacking Light is the continuous dialog with readers both on the website and otherwise. Your thoughts are instrumental to what we do and we thank you for your input and encourage more.
One of the major themes at Backpacking Light is innovation. How do you do more with less? How do you make it lighter, better for you and better for the planet? Finding ways to hold true to these driving factors of lighter and less is a big part of what we are all about. When the subject of lessening packaging waste came up in our office, of course we were interested. Specific to the outdoor world, companies have already been working for years to reduce their packaging waste and cost by using less materials, better materials, or in the case of some, hardly any materials at all. And while this is something that has been going on for a number of years in the industry, it is still relatively new. Innovation into how to package with less is what caught our eye. And those companies who still choose to use a great deal of packaging also got our attention. In an effort to give an accurate sampling of current packaging methods we offered just that—a sampling of packaging systems and styles.
However, in the resulting posts that have been generated since this article was published there have been what seems like a lot of the “yes, but” clauses. Yes, Patagonia is one of the front-runners when reducing their retail packaging, but they also send out catalogs. Yes, Sigg bottles have almost no retail packaging, but they still ship their products in boxes. Yes, Brunton uses blister packaging, but they use post-consumer PET to do it. Yes, bio-based polymers are biodegradable, but are faced with bias and cannot be recycled. Yes, excessive packaging and blister packs for smaller products may alienate the consumer from the product, but it might reduce theft.
The “yes, but” clauses serve as proof that both consumers and manufactures are already looking at other aspects of being green regarding everything from fuel consumption, paper consumption and chemical use while at the same time being sensitive to the needs of the manufacturer, retailer and consumer. These are great points to make. These topics get all parties involved in thinking about the impact that these products have on the world we live in. And it is this type of dialog and thought that generates innovation that will create packaging that is better for the consumer, manufacturer and the planet.
However, the fact remains that packaging makes up about a third of the gross weight of American’s municipal solid waste. The standard PET plastic water bottle, the same plastic that is used in blister packaging, takes over 1,000 years to decompose. We can do better than this. And while no company is perfect, most are at the very least stepping up, finding new ways to do what they do even better.
This innovation, this type of dialog, and these types of challenges are what drive us at Backpacking Light. We continue to welcome your input and feedback.