A few days ago, some books which I had ordered from Amazon for my daughter were delivered to my home. The six slim books were delivered in three separate batches. I was happy because the books arrived in good condition and my daughter was delighted. However, my heart sank when I saw the amount of packaging languishing in our dry waste bin. "What have I done?" I though. On one hand I'm looking for a bright future of my daughter, but on the other, am I doing my part to ensure that the world remains liveable for our children? I am sure I am not alone in feeling this guilt.
We are already seeing the impact of our cavalier attitude in the smog of Delhi and in Bangalore's burgeoning garbage problem.
I recently watched an interesting video (below) about a strawberry packet. It showed how much time, energy and fuel goes behind so many of the things we consume (and waste) without a second thought. It shows what an impact our wastefulness has on the environment—the video packs a punch in its 1-minute running time.
Just think of items which are despatched to us in multiple layers of packaging. A tub of hair gel, a lipstick, whatever—it comes to us in a big box that's often padded with thermocol or cardboard or plastic.
I'm not really sure how this problem can be solved, because of so many things associated with it. A completely well-established system is behind these packaging norms, but we certainly need to improvise new strategies that are more green. I appreciate the efforts people are already making towards environment. I really like the way BigBasket.com is operating and contributing towards Swachh-Bharat. They don't use second layer of packaging at all and deliver in crates. Many countries are already doing much for recycling and we can take a cue from them:
1. Sweden's move to encourage recycling effectively is Sweden Promotes Repair. They are promoting repairs of items by providing a tax benefit. Reuse and reduce are the two aims.
2. Many countries recycle packaging such as bottles, cans etc. During my stay in Helsinki, Finland I never had to throw any can or bottle in the dustbin as they had proper recycling system in place with return benefit. Why don't we have schemes like this in India?
3. Here's an excellent article on how different countries are reducing waste: 7 practices we should adopt from other countries
E-commerce has really brought ease and convenience to our lives, but we cannot afford to lose sight of the implications for our environment. We have to work on it before it's too late. My thoughts below how we can reduce the e-commerce packaging waste:
1. Reduce multiple layers of packaging as much as possible except for fragile objects, if needed.
2. Encourage customers to return packaging for re-use.
3. Consumers can also try using cardboard cartons for storing stuff at home, instead of buying separate plastic boxes etc. I find these cartons to be really useful for segregating and storing stuff.
I would love to see more ideas, so do drop a line here! As for e-commerce companies, our earth needs you to make a move now!