Thursday, June 28, 2012

Plastic-Free by Beth Terry (book excerpt)

The June Theme is Reading! And in light of that, I'm posting an excerpt (with permission of the author) from Beth Terry's new book, Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.

I've had a chance to skim through Plastic Free, and it is one of the best green books I've seen. This book combines convincing explanations of the problems with plastic with incredibly comprehensive information regarding plastic alternatives (the book is over 300 pages!). Some of my favorite parts are the inspirational bios of Beth's heroes and the action item checklists at the end of chapters. I love a good action item checklist. This excerpt is one of the many suggestions you'll find in Plastic Free for actions you can take to make a positive impact.

Going Further: Asking Companies to Change Their Packaging

It may seem like writing or calling a company to request plastic-free packaging won’t do much good. Often, a customer service representative will take your message or send you an email response that is little more than a standard form letter. But all of our calls, letters, and emails add up and make an impact. I already shared with you the success that I and 16,000 other people had letting Clorox know we wanted to be able to recycle our Brita filters. But I’ve had successes on smaller levels too. One reason I love to support small businesses and Etsy sellers is that you can usually contact the owner directly before making a purchase and find out if a product can be packaged and shipped plastic-free. The small business relationships I value the most are with owners who listen to my suggestions and change the way they package their products for all of their customers, not just for me. One such business owner is Lisa Albrecht from LaundryTree.

A few years ago, I read about LaundryTree soapnuts on the green living blog Tiny Choices and noticed in the photo that the product seemed to be packaged in plastic bags. I left a comment on the blog asking if that were the case; the blog writer contacted LaundryTree; and Lisa from LaundryTree contacted me. She said that she actually wanted to move away from plastic bags but wasn’t sure what packaging to use instead, and she asked if I would help her figure it out. Wow. I was stunned! I honestly hadn’t expected such a positive response. And I’m not sure how much help I actually provided Lisa besides giving her the encouragement and support she needed to do the research. In less than a month, she had found her solution and started packaging her soapnuts in recycled kraft paper bags lined inside with PLA bioplastic instead of fossil-based plastic. As she phased out the plastic bags she already had, she switched over completely to the new bags. A huge company like Procter and Gamble or Clorox would have required months of product design, focus groups, and retooling before making a change in packaging. Small companies like LaundryTree have the flexibility to make changes quickly.

Because of successes with companies like LaundryTree, I continue writing to companies and asking for change. I’ve even been known to mail back unexpected plastic laundry powder scoops. I don’t always know if my letters or emails have made an impact, but what I do know is that most companies are not going to change their policies and practices unless we speak up. So let’s speak up.


Helena said...

Just got this out of the library this week and am finding it a good resource so far. I've been eager to read it so it's good to finally have it in my hands. :)

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Helena, please come back and share your review after finishing it. I am eager to get my hands on a hard copy as well.


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