Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I love those comment boxes...

So, I decided to buy some yarn online to make this very cute purse and I really wanted the exact yarn it is pictured/patterned in (because it is so cute)...so I searched and searched and the only place I found it was online. I know that buying anything that has to be shipped usually involves plastic so I try to buy online as little as possible. But I bought the yarn online and wrote in the 'comments' box the following message.
"Could you please ship my yarn without plastic, i.e. no plastic bags, mailing envelop, bubble wrap, peanuts, etc....me and the environment THANK YOU!"

...and I got a response to my comment:

"Welcome Erin!
That is no problem, we are also concerned with the environment. I'd like to explain how I ship, & why I ship the way I do.
I ship with the least amount of packaging possible. My packaging is meant to insure that your products arrive safely (in the same condition they leave this shop,), quickly, & at the least amount of expense to you.
I must admit to shipping yarn in bags. The plastic bags 1) to keep it clean, & 2) to protect it from damage. Let me explain: If I ship in a cardboard container, and it is either unwrapped or wrapped in undyed tissue paper, & the package is in the rain or snow, i.e, mailbox, mailbag, the yarn will be wet. (I have had this happen to me, which is why I worry.). I also find they are a great way to store the yarn, (the bags are archive friendly,) & a great way to carry your yarn around.
I normally ship 5 Cinnabars in a Tyvek mailer, further protected by a bag. If you would rather I ship differently, please advise. I also want you to understand, that we will not be responsible if the yarn is damaged. I do not mean to sound harsh, I certainly respect your wishes. I just want to be certain that your yarn arrives safely, and in a manner that is acceptable to you.
Please let me know how you would like me to package your order.

I love to get responses for my no plastic please comments. It makes me realize that I do and can make a (little) difference and others also care! I think you can guess how I will respond to Carol :)

So...moral of the day: speak up, say something and while you are saying something say no plastic please.


kai_wahine said...

I had a similar experience with my CSA, they are VERY eco-conscious but haven't been able to find a way around packing some of the produce in plastic bags. It's been troubling me and I'm considering quitting because of it even though I love the service. I suppose I could just head to the farmers market with my cloth bags but that's much less convenient. their email to me regarding plastic:


Thanks for your email, and I'm glad to hear you're enjoying being a part of our CSA! I'm also glad to hear you've noticed one of the huge walls sustainably-minded farmers run up against and just can't seem to get around -- you're certainly not the first member who's asked for fewer plastic bags, and you can rest assured this is something we'd love to remedy as well! Unfortunately, there aren't many good alternates for plastic bags. I'd like to explain a bit of why they're necessary (and apologize if this is more information than you wanted).

First of all, at the most basic level, we need to ensure that our produce reaches our members in the best state possible. For many veggies -- greens, in particular -- they need to be kept in plastic bags for this to occur. Why not re-use the plastic bags we've been sending out for years, you might ask? Well, that's due to health code and organic certification laws. We are required to use new ones. So, we're forced to use some kind of food-grade plastic bag in order to keep our produce in good shape AND we have to use new ones each time for safety and sanitation.

Sometimes folks are confused why certain items are bagged, when they don't seem to need the plastic protection (for example, the citrus fruit). This comes down to what it takes to pack 600 or so boxes each week. Here's a quick rundown of how a box-packing session goes:

First, the boxes are un-flattened (made into boxes) and stacked for ease of counting and re-counting and to make sure they are easy to grab. Then, as each harvested item comes in from the field, it is either rinsed/cooled or not and then weighed appropriately and re-packed into bins. The bins then go into the walk-in cooler. Or, if a whole load comes in at once, some items go directly into the walk-in to be taken out later to be processed (rinsed and packed). We also have to portion out the items we receive from other farms. Then, once everything is assembled, all of the bins come out of the walk-in and into the packhouse. The empty boxes sit at one end of the accordian-style conveyor belt (it just has rollers and isn't motorized), with the empty truck at the other. The produce is spaced out down the line, with the heaviest items closest to the boxes (to be packed first) and the lightest, most fragile items near the truck to be packed last. Each member of the crew takes one or two items, depending on the ratio of people to produce, and then the boxes start rolling down the belt. One person takes the box and loads the heaviest item in, sending it down the line to the next person waiting with the next item. When the last item is tucked inside, the box is closed and then carefully stacked into the truck, along with the egg coolers (which are placed in the truck in order of delivery to make it easy to find the correct one for each site without having to move too many boxes). It's a rather fun, fast-paced procedure, and weighing out each item along the line takes considerably more time. It creates bottlenecks and some confusion and lessens the efficiency of the whole proces . . .

I hope that all makes sense. We're constantly on the lookout for affordable alternatives (and the organic community at large is on the search, too) -- so thanks for your suggestion. I'll pass it along to Nigel. He's looked into some options in the past, but all are extremely costly for our business. It'd be great if we could find something, though . . .

plasticfreenyc said...

amazing! i love seeing that people care. even if they end up using some plastic, it's so encouraging that they care :)

plasticfreela said...

Wow! Now that is a full response...but I still feel like there must be a way for them to get around the plastic bags. Thank you for sharing that!