Yesterday, I asked you guys to send in pictures of examples of wasteful shipping habits from online retailers that you've bought things from. You came through in spades. When you see just one example of Dell sending a flash drive in a box big enough for a laptop you think it's an amusing fluke or a mistake; but when you see this many, you know it's a pattern. Take a look at the Hall of Shame below, and then let's figure out how to change this lousy practice.
As I said before, the problem with shipping tiny objects in large boxes has very little to do with the extra cardboard included in the box, which is easily recyclable. While sometimes these boxes are full of Styrofoam peanuts or some other environment-raping material, the real damage being done by this shipping method is in the transit itself.
When a company like Dell or Amazon is shipping out thousands of small objects in large boxes every day, it takes up room on UPS and FedEx trucks. Clearly, many more trucks need to be on the road, consuming gas and pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, to get these to where they need to go. If padded mailers or more appropriately sized boxes were used, it would allow for many more to fit in each truck, cutting down on the greenhouse gases emitted every day by shipping companies.
What we need are promises from online retailers that they'll start being smarter about how they send things. I don't expect there to be a perfectly sized box for every item you sell; it's never going to be perfect. But with electronics getting smaller and smaller, it just makes sense to have small boxes on hand that can fit things like thumb drives, memory, cables, CDs and other such products. Oftentimes, padded mailers can be used for items unlikely to be damaged during transit, such as thumb drives.
Who will be the first retailer to make a strong commitment to responsible shipping? One that will take this problem seriously and not just provide lip service while they continue to fill gas-guzzling UPS trucks with boxes that are 90% empty? It's a problem that demands attention. Even if it's not the most glamorous or exciting thing in the world, having a company who ships as many things as Amazon or Dell commit to a more responsible practice would have a serious impact on the amount of gas being consumed and CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere. Let's make this happen.
Thanks to everyone who submitted shots to the Hall of Shame!