Friday, March 9, 2012

Glass Straws

I've blogged before about using glass straws instead of plastic.  We use an inordinate number of plastic straws in North America every day.  According to  More than 500 million disposable plastic straws are used in the United States every day and would fill more than 127 school buses daily, or more than 46,400 school bus loads per year. (The large, 40-ft.-long buses.)*  That's a lot.  We really don't need to get an extra straw (and don't forget the lids) every time we get a pop (soda). 

So I've purchased some glass straws.  The first set I bought from and I loved them.  I don't remember how they came packaged a year ago - but I'm pretty sure it was in cardboard and newspaper.  And last September they announced their new in-store display:  I'm impressed.

This month I ordered some more straws - thought I'd try another company- they had a sale on.  Money tends to talk.

They arrived today wrapped in bubble wrap and safely secured with Styrofoam peanuts.  I was VERY disappointed.  For a company that claims to be helping people go green, this was saddening, to say the least.  An example of good intentions gone bad, or greenwashing?  I'm not sure, but either way, I'm not buying anything else from them unless they improve their packaging materials.

I did just send them an e-mail.  I hope they realize that the clientelle they are dealing with are people who don't want peanuts or bubble wrap.

P.S.:  Here was their reply:

"Thank you for your email and for your concern. Unfortunately we do need to use these as filler in our packages because the item is fragile and the USPS is not very careful with packages. Below is a explanation of what we’ve worked through for each and why we’ve decided to stay with what we have:

 All of the packing peanuts we use are “rescued” from local retailers who were planning to just throw them all in the dumpster, we have never purchased a single packing peanut and we have huge boxes of them! We tried to use shredded paper in the past but it was very heavy and moved to one end so that they didn’t provide proper cushioning for our product. Some of the peanuts we get are the decomposing type but the ones that are not can be used as filler for extra large potted plants (instead of filling them with soil). Another option for the peanuts and any packing material is to save them and then offer them up for free to someone who is moving, it can even be posted on sites such as Craigslist or Freecycle.

 We do purchase bubble wrap because it is the safest way to ship glass. We’ve looked (and continue to) for recycled plastic bubble wrap but have not found any yet. We did find a paper based wrap for fragile items that replaced the traditional plastic bubble wrap but it is created for wrapping larger items like dishes and glasses for moving purposes. I even bought a whole roll to try and it did not provide sufficient padding. The good thing is that in most areas plastic bubble wrap is recyclable. I personally keep a plastic bag under my kitchen sink to collect any plastic we encounter in our household that might otherwise go into the garbage can. Plastic bubble wrap would go in that bag and out to the recycle bin on trash day.

Not sure if that is a sufficient answer for you but I hope you at least understand that we are conscious of this and are always working to find alternatives when they are available."

Frankly, that ISN'T enough for me.  I'm glad that they are re-using the packing peanuts, but there have to be alternatives to bubble wrap.

I also wrote to Glass Dharma and asked what they use for packing materials.  Here is their reply:

"Our straws are shipped in chipboard boxes that are 97% recycled material 40% post consumer content. Our hemp sleeves have a cellophane wrapper that is 100% compostable (the hang tag is recycled paper). Our shipping boxes are corrugated cardboard with used newspaper for filler. We use a paper packaging tape for sealing packages. No plastic is used anywhere.

 We also have new packaging, designed for brick and mortar stores that is just as eco friendly – hopefully, you will see them start sprouting up in stores where you live".

So that's my answer - I'll order from Glass Dharma next time.

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