this makes me angry…

Posted on April 3rd, 2013

Take a look at the shot below. That there, my dear blog land dwellers, is my mail collection from one day. You’ll note it’s mostly parcels sent in expensive overnight bags and courier boxes. What you can’t see is the amount of guff inside the parcels (I don’t wish to expose culprits): elaborately written press releases, products, books, sugary snacks, padding, bubble-wrap, gimmicky invites (sand in a glass bottle?!) and…tinsel. What none of us see is the hidden costs: the labour, the resources, the carbon emissions to produce and cart such guff around the planet.

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All of which gets me really upset.

Admittedly, the above represented a particularly large dumping. Although, most days entail carting at least 2-3 parcels back from the post office (please note: my physical carting of said guff is not the pivot point of my gripe).

Why does it upset me? I’d like to explain why, as a thinly disguised (and polite) message to those who might be thinking of sending me something some time soon.

In flat out terms: the above is a huge waste of resources. Unforgivably so.

Leaving aside the actual manufacturing cost of the product itself, there’s the work that went into the junior PR staffer writing the release (then getting it checked, legalled etc), the packaging, the postman’s time sorting and delivering the packages, the transport costs, the issuing of a notification in my box, the second reminder when I can’t get to the post office for a few days. And so on. All very well if the product is needed and/or useful. But in most cases it’s not. And these costs – specifically to the planet – devastate me.

Generally the sender doesn’t wear these costs. Their client does. And so there’s too little accountability or conscious thought going into the blind sending out of the guff. This is the unforgivable part.

In addition, it’s a huge waste of my resources. Every parcel in that shot above requires either a polite thank you note or a detailed email to the sender explaining I can’t promote the particular product they’ve sent me as it doesn’t fit with my message or ethics. Which in so many cases it doesn’t because:

I actively and vocally promote minimal consumption.

I get doubly upset that this ethos is not respected. Leaving aside the times the product in question is full of cane sugar or laced with toxic chemicals.

I’m going to soften the blow of my spray at this juncture by saying that often a lot of mindful care and consideration does go into sending me a product to try. The intention is good and the implementation sound.  In such cases I find the sender will often email me first to check I’d like the product sent through (as per my request here) and will have thought first as to whether their product is something of interest to my readership – you guys. As I spell out often, I do not endorse or accept advertising for products that I do not personally choose to use or are not in keeping with my ethics and message.

Do I sound ungrateful and self-aggrandising (“Hey, look at how much stuff I get sent”)?  Yeah, I know I do. But I don’t care today. I’ll risk the backlash (“Oh, how nice would it be to having a fat whinge about being given stuff.”) because:

the gist of my message – a plea to everyone around me to minimise consumption – matters too much to me to not ark up.

And besides, I have, in fact, written about all this before in softer terms.

Sadly, the dumping occurred just before a trip interstate on Qantas for work which saw me handed the below by way of a mid-flight snack en route to Melbourne. I mean, it’s a one-hour flight. No one needs to snack on a one-hour flight.

But anyway. The below was shoved at me before I could ask what was in it. Clearly it was festival of sugar (juice, prunes, biscuit) and I asked if they could take it back. Since I’d touched it (I hadn’t opened the damn thing), they advised that they couldn’t. Why? The steward’s reply: “How would you feel if you knew someone else had handled your snack?” My response: “But there are 293847 layers of plastic between me and the snack itself.” To which he said: “I can pretend to reuse it but I’m going to actually throw it out”. I wanted to cry. Instead I toted the snack pack for a day and gave it to the client I was meeting to give to his kids. I can only pray they got as excited as I used to when Dad brought home Country Life soap and TAA badges when he flew interstate.

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Which gets me to my point. And my ultimate plea.

Let’s all think mindfully before we accept – or send – guff.

We can all say no to the packaged food on planes. We can create less demand.

We can opt to fly budget airlines where snacks are optional.

If we blog, we can clearly state we want to approve a product send-out before it’s posted. Feel free to run something like this on your blog.

If we work in PR, we can more closely tailor send-outs.

We can request no gifts at birthdays.

And so on…feel free to add to my rant with your suggestions…

 

Posts on sarahwilson.com may contain links to sponsors and affiliates with the capacity to receive monetary compensation, which helps to support the growth and development of this site. Giveaways are sponsored promotions and will always be stated as such on the post. Books, eBooks and other products that align with my site and ethos may potentially be accepted for review, but please respect my desire not to clutter my life with “stuff” before you send your wonderful product or press release. I am not a medical professional; rather, a wellness advocate, therefore anything written by myself on this site is my own (researched) opinion and not advice from a trained doctor. Here is a full breakdown of my position on sponsored posts and advertising. 

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  • http://www.myglorybox.com myglorybox.com

    Oh Sarah. Ever so brave. Very admirable. But you know what, a lot of your readers will silently agree. As I do. I don’t mind your rant. It’s your blog, rant away. Thanks for always reminding me to CONSUME LESS…

    Always.
    Charina

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  • http://www.babbphoto.com Babb

    I am angry for you. I would be furious if I had to repeatedly go to the post office to collect things I hadn’t even asked for, let alone the waste/having to dispose of it all.

    I also feel quite angry for the clients of these lazy PR people. They are paying people who can’t even be bothered to tailor their communications and send appropriate products to relevant people.

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  • http://www.lastchancetraining.com.au Liz N

    Hi Sarah,
    When I send stuff, I always keep those boxes I’ve been sent, and reuse them. I agree that we should all be mindful of how we package things and our carbon footprint.

    In regards to sending stuff, maybe you need to put some more detail in your contact page in regards to your philosophies about this and emailing first to check that you would accept such product/release hopefully doesn’t cost the environment anything!

    Have a happy day,
    Liz N

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  • Bec

    I couldn’t agree with you more Sarah. Really gets my goat.
    Recently I’ve been angst at (lovely) friends who have baby-showers and christenings for their newborns and expect presents from all guests at said events. The amount of tat they end up with …! Ok, if the presents are meaningful / worthwhile / sustainable etc then fantastic, but the sheer volume of gifts I see after they’ve been unwrapped are usually unnecessary (and probably unwanted) tacky gifts.
    Another thing that really rattles me is the many One Dollar cheap shops overflowing with unnecessary ornaments and tacky plastic trinkets … like the rubbish you find in Christmas crackers. Do people REALLY need all this STUFF?! There is too much useless STUFF being manufactured in this world. Our resources need to be put to far better use.
    Rant over.
    Sarah – I do hope the PR peeps listen up and take note.

    [Reply]

    Agreed! Reply:

    yes, Yes, YES!

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    Ms Jane Reply:

    I’m with you on this one. One friend of mine had an engagement party, hens day, wedding, baby shower, christening etc all within 12 months. It was nuts! After the first 3 gifts I started buying them plants!! It’s ugly, unnecessary and greedy!

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    Jess Reply:

    Ms Jane, you sound like a classic two faced friend! If only she knew what you really think of her.

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    Gen Reply:

    Jess, that sounds like a classic cuts-too-close-to-home reaction. Jane is right, endless “occasions” that demand gifts, wrapping paper, cards and endless focus on the self irritate anyone who isn’t similarly narcissistic or wasteful. I’m all for celebrating a union or birth of a child, but one mindfully chosen and wrapped gift for each event is plenty.

  • Jo

    A great post and I totally agree Sarah!

    Waste and mindless consumption are also pet peevs of mine.

    I remind my friends of this when they look sideways at my daggy 80′s couch (which is rather comfy!) or my tiny old TV (I hardly watch TV so whats the point in getting a massive flash one).

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  • http://www.rachphillips.com Rachael • rachphillips.com

    I remember when I first started in journalism getting gifts and freebies was exciting, I’m not going to lie about that because it really way. BUT these days I loathe it. I actually am very thankful that the majority of PR’s I deal with these days ask before sending anything. Yes, it takes time to respond to the email but I don’t end up with loads of shit (which actually I used to regift).

    The airline story boils my blood. SErIOUSLY! I am SO sick of all this bullshit of throwing perfectly good food away when there are hundreds and thousands of homeless and starving families in our communities. It’s wasteful and it’s crass! I think that you should complain actually about the airline attitude. It is utterly abhorrent.

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    Annie Reply:

    Hi Rachel:
    Have to disagree with the long-haul flights, which is probably covered by your comments anyway. Having just come off a 15 hour flight, the Qantas meals (in appropriate sized containers and minimal waste presentation) were greatly appreciated :)

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  • http://www.shopnaturally.com.au Jo @ Shop Naturally

    Sarah, I think it’s time for you to put a PR Companies link on your site with a giant “NO UNSOLICITED PRODUCTS” graphic on it and an explanation. I too, think it’s not the right thing to send unsolicited ‘gifts’ in the hope that they’ll get a free plug out of it.

    I get it too at the shop, but not to this extent. In retail, I find most companies ask first, but not always. I have a giant box in our warehouse that’s a lucky dip for staff. If there’s something we get sent that I won’t sell, the staff get to take it for themselves or to give friends. At the end of the year, it gets given to the Wishing Tree if appropriate or given to charity.

    I, at least, have the opportunity to re-use ALL of the packaging we get sent, but it’s so very wasteful and not at all good for the planet. Pretty packaging annoys me, big time. What’s the point of getting something in a bag with the logo on it and a big bow if you’re only going to throw it out when you get home?

    I bought a dress the other day, my car was just outside, she was about to put it in a bag, and I said “no thanks, I don’t need one”. The woman couldn’t believe her eyes.

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  • http://hugoandelsa.blogspot.com Michelle

    Great post Sarah. I still find it crazy that most people don’t even think about this issue.

    This week I read a food magazine that had a full page colour ad of glamourous women gleefully tossing a disposable aluminium baking dish over her shoulder. The ad was trying to suggest that my life would be so much easier if I didn’t have to face the dreadful chore of washing and re-using my baking dishing. It made me so angry to think about all the energy and resources wasted so we don’t have to wash up?! And that this advertising agency and the manufacturer thought that was a great selling point. Corporate responsibility and the environmental impact just isn’t on their radar.

    Don’t even get me started on people thinking their bums are so superior than they need a brand new tree chopped down so they can wipe their ass!

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  • http://www.mytearitual.com Basia

    Love it!! So true – Happy to see you have spoken up about it! :)

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  • RoDyCa

    Sarah I salute you. This “Junk Mail on Steroids” has to stop. I was accidentally served a Meat Meal on an airline once – instead of a Vegetarian one; same thing – I hadn’t touched it, only read the label. It was thrown out. What a waste. Rant on – your authenticity is so refreshing.

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  • Pettiness plus

    Waste drives me crazy. So does ‘arc’ incorrectly spelled as ‘ark’. I know it’s petty, but they are two different words.

    ark /ärk/Noun (in the Bible) The ship built by Noah to save his family and two of every kind of animal from the Flood; Noah’s ark.

    arc /ärk/Noun A part of the circumference of a circle or other curve.
    Verb Move with a curving trajectory: “the ball arced across the room”.

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    Sara Reply:

    Hee hee. Funny.

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    Diana Reply:

    hi pettiness plus, it’s a truism that people who correct others usually betray their ignorance,so here goes ha ha! Ark up is urban slang, meaning to get angry at someone or something. It has nothing to do with Noah’s Ark or curving arcs. If anything it is more likely derivative from the word hark.Sarah has spelt it and used it correctly. Save your anger for something useful :-)

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    Sara Reply:

    Oops, I thought it was just a random, odd comment which was why I thought it funny. Didn’t realise it was an actual criticism of Sarah’s post. I retract my previous comment. Not funny, Pettiness. Boring.

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    Mia Reply:

    Fun fact – did you know that the Finnish word for grammar Nazi is literally translated as “comma fucker?” I love this & will use any opportunity to drop the word in. It’s Pilkunnussija, for those interested.

    I hope this random, odd comment is more to your taste. Have a nice day!

    Sara Reply:

    Now THAT is random funny. Thanks Mia.

    Lilapud Reply:

    Haha Mia, Love it!! :)

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  • Kirsten

    Fantastic article Sarah – I don’t mind everyone having a good (educated and interesting) rant every so often ;)

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  • Neely

    I feel for you, receiving all that would really anger me too. My partner gets sucked into the “free stuff” con all the time and then I a left to deal with the junk that enters our house which irritates me so much as I am I so driven to get rid of it in the most ethical way possible!

    On a brighter note though it was my birthday last week and all I was given were flowers and wine! I was so happy that finally after years of pleading with family and friends not to give me gifts they have finally learned that I am really genuine when I say I don’t want stuff and have altered their gifts accordingly!

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  • Lisa

    Bravo Sarah! What a shame that some may consider your article a rant. People need to take a step back and look at the big picture. The amount of “crap” we are surrounded with is incredible. Sometimes I feel like I am from another planet when fellow humans show such little awareness on so many levels. Don’t even get me started on the nasty $2 shops full of their imported toxic chemical laden materials – ew!!!!!! Our society has such a long way to go but people like us can make impacts every day!!
    Sarah – you rock!!!

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  • http://www.thespaces-between.blogspot.com Natalie

    Good on you for speaking loudly! Sarah I have a question. I’m curious to know what you do with all the stuff you get sent then? Sometimes it takes even more time to think about how to pass on stuff you don’t need than to actually keep it! Depending on what it there’s great org’s/groups who might benefit. Natalie x

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  • http://slowheartsing.blogspot.com.au/ Vanessa

    This year was the second year in a row we insisted – INSISTED – on no birthday presents for our eldest son’s birthday party. Last year, all but one person brought a present. That one person felt very uncomfortable at the party as you can imagine, and all the presents either broke half an hour later (causing unnecessary outbursts) and ended up in the bin or were given away. This year, a better turn out with only two parents buying presents but I was still a little miffed. Children don’t need more toys and parents don’t need to continually sort toys into piles for charity and the dump. If it were to be kept simple in the first place, and if we rely less on ‘things’ we wouldn’t need to get rid of them later. I’m hoping for third time lucky next year!

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    Sara Reply:

    Ahh, I hear you. We do a Kris Kringle/ Secret Santa gift giving with my husband’s family and we all ask for what we want. I asked for a donation to a charity that I like. Instead I got some cookbooks. Like they thought I was just pretending to care but REALLY I wanted a gift. I didn’t! It was so frustrating.
    Also, I went to a 40th recently where the invitation also said no gifts. I decided to donate to a charity on her behalf which I knew she would care about just as a token gesture. When I got there one of her friends was going around collecting money for the gift they were buying her. When I said I thought she didn’t want a gift and I’d instead bought her a charity donation she looked at me like I was some kind of horrible cheapskate. It’s like some people just cannot grasp the concept that you don’t want a gift. Like its just lip service to make you feel virtuous.

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    Irena Reply:

    Our family Xmas presents policy this year was to donate to a charity or to buy yourself your own present if you wanted and then send everyone a pic of what ‘they’ got you ;-) Works quite well, at least you end up with something you need or want.

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    Sara Reply:

    Love that. I do that with my girlfriends now for our Christmas catch up. We used to do Secret Santa with little gifts but I switched it to everyone selecting a charity they want and donating to it. We all stand up and say a little bit about the charity so it also means we learn a bit about different organisations. Everyone loves it much more than the presents. My husbands family however still seem to only see the value of ‘stuff’! I also give art to my nearest and dearest that I know they’ll love. Otherwise my feeling is we really do not need anything.

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    Sally Reply:

    Such a good point Vanessa, its seems like every grandparent, uncle, aunt & friend buys several toys for each child at birthdays and Christmas, my MIL bought the kids about ten each at Christmas. She thought it was funny how annoyed we were! Toys are so cheap. I took bags of them to vinnies in January. How many metre high teddys does a child really need? Sorry this is a mini rant. I’m just glad I’m not the only Mum that gets annoyed about surplus presents. I might email everyone I know a link to this article in November this year, http://www.chicagonow.com/baby-sideburns/2012/11/what-not-to-fing-buy-my-kids-this-holiday/

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  • http://www.adamcordner.com Adam Cordner

    Rant on baby!

    Could we see “No solicited parcels, registered mail or pies” statement below the Contact Us on people’s sites? I would put that on there.

    Surely there can be a better way to communicate these types of messages.

    How about “Are you going past…?” courier service (TM)? You have an app that notifies you of dog walkers who might be going past your place then the place where you would like to send a parcel? The dogs could carry the parcel as exercise.

    Or 3D printing mail, you have a 3D printer that remakes the item sent as an email out of recycled food or chicken, because everything tastes like chicken.

    Or you could just make a brilliant product that is so amazing and revolutionary that people would contact you to promote your business because its awesome.

    I’ll think about this some more…

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  • http://www.livehealthysimply.com Jessica Nazarali

    Great post. I don’t have a PO Box on my blog because I want to avoid being sent stuff that I can’t/won’t use. It still happens occasionally but I always give it away – never through it out!

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  • Mia

    Wow, that’s a gross amount of stuff. And they arent really giving you a gift, are they. To quote Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, they are giving you an obligation. Not just the obligation of finding somewhere to put the stuff, and the obligation to use it, but the obligation to share a favourable review to try to curry favor with your readers.

    I had an ex boyfriend who did that once. I openly dislike Christmas, partly because it reminds me of death since my father passed away, and partly because I have enough stuff and hate useless shit. I explained this nicely and asked that he would inform his family that I wanted no gifts, and no big deal made. He said he understood. Then SURPRISE I GOT YOU A WHOLE PILE OF GIFTS ANYWAY!!! He didnt understand why I was pissed off. I ended up crying in the car on the way home and eventually gave everything to charity.

    I’m lucky in that the only corporate gifts I recieve from our suppliers are usually perishables, like wine and chocolate, etc that are easy to re-gift. Then I’m seen as the nice guy for supplying other departments with afternoon snacks!

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  • http://www.alldayheels.com.au Sara

    No backlash here Sarah. I get it and I’m one of those people who does rely on media to get publicity and help my one-woman-show business. That said I’m not in PR, I have my own company with products I sell and do everything – EVERYTHING – in house. So I am probably much more careful with what I send out than people who have ‘clients’ and get to spend their money and resources willy nilly. I am my own client so the last thing I want to do is make anyone – journos, bloggers, consumers – think of my brand as a throwaway.

    I follow your blog, have bought your book and know the power of your ‘endorsement’. It would cost me next to nothing monetarily to send you my two products but I never have because, while my products don’t in any way go against your ethics they don’t really align with anything I’ve seen you talk about either. You might really like them but they just don’t fit in with all the things I’ve seen you talk about so I’ve never pursued it. Perhaps not quite the reason you are looking for (my reasoning is a little about waste but probably more about that it just doesn’t make good business sense) but the outcome is the same.

    But I do actually get really upset when I read magazines like Shop til You Drop. How can there be so much stuff in the world? Every month? There just aren’t enough people to accommodate that much STUFF, surely?

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  • Lyn

    Perhaps you’re being too nice. I’ve been reading this blog for only about 3 months or so, and your message is not at all hard to get and you are right, the ignorance is unforgivable. No matter how much you ask marketers to have a little consideration or conscious thought before blindingly sending the guff, while ever they have everything to gain (a post and publicity on your website) and nothing to lose (at worst their product is recycled or donated elsewhere) they will continue to blindingly send the guff. If, however, there is the risk that their product will make your list of ‘most wasteful / ignorant / disrespectful’ companies, perhaps there will be a little more consideration involved before blindingly sending you their wonderful “stuff”. Unless of course they are of the belief that any publicity is good publicity, a naive view in a world where thanks to social media and blogging, consumers do have a voice. It may seem against your nature to name and shame, but they have had fair warning, such behaviour is deliberate disrespect and this approach will go much further to addressing the real problem, preventing such unnecessary waste in the first place.

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  • V

    The only thing more exasperating than domestic junk mail is seeing it being delivered by people driving cars! We can all apply “no junk mail/ no advertising material” stickers to our mailboxes.

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  • http://www.lucentimagery.com lucent imagery

    I remember volunteering on an event that benefited a charity – seeing all the “goodie bags” get stuffed was so upsetting – there were no “goodies”, just brochures and business cards that mostly get thrown away or left on the ground after the athletes have finished. I also don’t enter giveaways unless it’s something I would actually use and pay for otherwise.

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  • Bianca

    As someone who is very conscious of little things like this, I agree wholeheartedly! I’m sure I’m the only person who was happy to see that cars are beginning to go registration sticker free! I’m thrilled!

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  • Jacqui

    My office mail looks like this every other day of the week. You’ve inspired me to write out to a bunch of our worst offending contacts today and ask them to cut the crap. Sometimes we receive up to 8 or 10 copies of the same thing! One of my biggest peevs is businesses both for profit and not-for-profit who waste their precious funds and the world’s resources on sending people junk! If they were smarter with their marketing they could make those dollars work a lot harder for them and go some way to helping the planet while they’re at it. Whilst I’m on clutter…what’s with the barrage of emails from some of these businesses too? Seriously? I don’t need to be reminded of you 5 times a week…if I need you, I know exactly where to find you…and not surprisingly I can remember you for more than 5 days without you shoving your brand in my face. I’m not a goldfish!

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  • Lisa

    I get really stressed with gifts, particularly given to my 2 yo son (he has 12 aunties and uncles). My first attempt to stop him receiving too many gifts was for his christening, with invitations requesting no gifts. I had a few sneaky comments as how could I possibly deny him gifts and I got the distinct feeling people thought it odd. He got quite a few irrespective. Now I try not to stress but donate excess to charity. I understand that people are well meaning but how much stuff does a child/ adult need?

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  • lizzie

    Go Sarah! I’m with you all the way, and currently coming to the end of a mountain of packaging that was the result of the move from overseas which required packers – I discovered square 0.5m box that contained individually wrapped felt tip pens!

    Food packaging on airlines is awful. Why cant they wash up knives and forks – surely they don’t still think we’re all going to stab ourselves…

    But most of all, I blame us, the consumer. If we buy food in packaging, we’re going to get more packaging. My brother used to run a well known sandwich chain in the UK. When they introduced fruit in a test store, people wouldn’t buy it because it wasn’t wrapped. When they wrapped it, sales more than tripled – including bananas! If we have to shop at stores with wrapping, (and lets face it, most have to, due to the sometimes overly protective NSW H&S requirements), we should all make like the late Anita Roddick, who would unwrap her food at the checkout and leave the debris for the store to clear.

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  • lizzie

    … Also, surely in this day and age, we don’t need unsolicited telephone books to be delivered. Most go from doorstep to bin. In blocks of flats, piles and piles of them sit around for weeks until somebody finally gets around to getting rid of them. Yes of course make them for those who ask – the elderly for example, but surely most of us use the internet these days…

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    Lilapud Reply:

    Oooh, the phone books!! Hello 1985! I got a knock on the door about them the other day, she seemed slightly ‘over it’ when I told her I wouldn’t be requiring one, poor thing, I got the feeling she’d had a few thrown back at her!!

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    Lucy Reply:

    You can cancel your delivery of White and Yellow Pages here: https://www.directoryselect.com.au/action/home

    Sometimes they still turn up on the doorstep though!

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    Anna Reply:

    Thanks for this Lucy! I didn’t know you could do that. White and Yellow Pages: you have now been deleted from my doorstep!

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  • http://lilapud.com/ Lilapud

    I create a little good humoured giggle from those close to me, as I never get on a plane, even a domestic flight, or go away without my own lil box or bag of goodies! As I’m Irish, my closest friend jokes that I have a deep rooted fear of another Gorta or Famine! Maybe … but mostly cuz it’s hard to come by quality …

    I find the general concept of waste, in a how-we-live-our-lives-sorta-way, is in my face 24/7 – it’s newspapers, tv, advertising magazines, sitting in traffic, and it’s hard to avoid (sometimes I think people think I’m weird when I voice this, sthaks for the opportunity here!!)

    I too get sad at the amount of crud that is bought for birthdays and celebrations, mostly because people feel they HAVE to spend money to show their love. Most times people agonise about what to buy because oooh they don’t know if the recipient will like it or not etc etc …

    If this happens, I suggest why not what – asking why am I buying … not what will I get them? Be guided from the heart, not the panic and mind-bending choice that faces us at the shops!!

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind receiving a gift, but it doesn’t have to be expensive, I like a thoughtful little something.

    I have a little online shop that (apart from books) sells handmade and up-cycled stuff that I love, and thought that others might like to give as gifts … I toyed with the idea of using presentation boxes to send the bigger stuff in, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it … it might look better than the recycled brown wrapping paper & jute string I now use, but I couldn’t help thinking that the boxes are just a bit wasteful and indulgent and would unnecessarily push prices up – recycled boxes are a silly price! But I do find it tricky and sometimes worry too much about these things … good to read these comments for some perspective … I try not to get too extreme about it, and go with trying to stay aware, and then do my best …

    Let’s hope mindfulness and meaningfulness will become popular again!

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  • Ann Marie Angebrandt

    Totally agree. I once sent a huge amount of cardboard back to a music distribution company who had totally overpackaged a CD. It cost me a heap in postage but I felt better about it.

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  • http://www.theadventuresofmisspiggy.com/ Miss Piggy

    Sarah, why don’t you remove your address from your blog. That way if a company wants to send you something you can vet their offer before it even leaves their hot little hands. Seeing as you mostly have to email them anyway after they send you stuff it’s not really anymore leg work. It would solve the problem and you’re in control.

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  • Sophie

    Sarah, I really appreciate you getting worked up about this because I get the impression very few people around me care. I don’t know if you’ve been to a kids’ birthday party recently but it is ghastly. Whether we have a party or not, my kids are given junk from friends or family which usually has several pieces and often breaks on the first or second day. Or if not broken then they are bored with it anyway, but at least it can be given to another child. Anyway I have had enough and already told the kids no birthday party next year. But I don’t really want to take away all their fun and am trying to think of another polite solution to the junky gifts.

    When I buy gifts for other kids in the family I try to choose an activity they can do, show they can go to, or even buying op shop gifts. I have also asked other adults to do the same for my kids, but I know that most adults are not really in favour of this. It’s just not the done thing.

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    Sally Reply:

    That is such a good idea buying kids activities, especially things that run out, paint, crayons etc. I might include that idea in my “please only buy my children one toy each” email that I send out this Christmas.

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  • http://www.lemon-living.blogspot.com Natalie

    I used to write a blog with fashion and beauty etc and got sent a lot of stuff and absolutely hated it. My life was filled with so much stuff and SO much packaging I didn’t want. I gave 90% of it away as gifts to friends who squeed in delight and deleted the whole blog.

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  • http://www.louisadeasey.com Louisa Deasey

    I really hope a lot of PRs read this. Yes it’s nice to get mail and i do love parcels and packages, but what used to annoy me when i was a columnist was getting sent TOTALLY unrelated stuff – ie. sic-fi books to review when my column was a fashion and beauty column!!
    And what really broke my heart was that i thought that author only has a certain amount of complimentary copies that can be sent, and they would have no idea that the PR dept of whatever publisher (or wherever) had done no research and just sent a batch to some name they knew wrote for some section of the Age. I did enjoy giving them away but what is annoying is those book packages can’t be put in the recycling bin because they’re covered in sticky tape.
    I don’t feel so trivial seeing your post and that it annoys you too!
    No-one has ever really believed me when i’ve told them the outrageously unrelated things I’ve been sent. It’s not too hard to figure out that sending Sarah Wilson
    a: things that contain sugar and
    b: stuff packed with chemicals

    isn’t really going to hit the mark.

    Good post!!

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  • Aimée

    Do you get funny if people want to send personal letters to you? I have been wanting to write to you for some time, and thought that if I hand wrote it and send it you’d read it, but after this post I’m not so sure…

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  • http://www.fatlblackcatsjournal.wordpress.com m

    YES YES YES

    I live in a tiny flat and I’m dreading April as I’m going to do a big clear out. I KNOW most of the stuff will be stuff from other people. My mother can never visit me without bring another FREAKING TEATOWEL OR A SHOWER CURTAIN all of which I have and work fine. Last year I did insist on my birthday that all I wanted was yarn. I knit for charity. All my friends respected this phew! and I had a happy few months using it up and doing some good.

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  • Kelly

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post. I have been known on multiple occasions, to post back those unsolicited offers of credit from random banks or credit places in their own ‘return post paid’ envelope asking them never to post anything to my address again. Heh heh- take that 60c return postage fee!
    On side note though; why did I have to opt OUT of a free friday newsletter to leave this comment? E-clutter is still clutter.

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  • Rachel

    Post the junk back – that’s what I do… Admittedly it’s work for Australia post but I don’t ask for their junk and I live in a very small unit so they must take it back. At conferences I always refuse the conference bag and all the advertising junk inside. We all need to do more refusing… Not just recycling and reusing.
    Need to work on reducing all the e-junk too!!!

    It’s a bigger issue…. Advertising companies and PR folk need to change how they engage existing and potential customers

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  • Rachel

    The body shop in the UK had a schene in the 1990′s where you could take empty bottles into a store and get them refilled – I had the same shower gel and shampoo bottles for 5 years…. Then the stopped that scheme. Such a shame.

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  • http://nourishingnewsroom.blogger.com Sara

    Yup that was a fulfilling read. Get angry more often! Passion, what the world needs more of. Went out of fashion sometime after the 70′s. Flouridation maybe…

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  • http://www.mikewilde.com mw

    My thing is plastic bags ..
    Are all plastic bags biodegradable ?
    If not .. why not ?
    And your problem with unwanted shit Sarah .. would get to me to !!
    mw

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    mw Reply:

    too .. (for the grammar Nazis)

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  • http://www.lukbeautifood.com cindy luken

    So agree Sarah. I am on the product side and created a little lip nourish made from healthy food to sell online (suits me as in toddler land) but I threw away the box and all the excess packaging. It is simply wrapped in fabric to protect the lippy & doubles as a glass cleaning cloth. It goes in an everyday envelope at $1.20 straight into your letter box not the delivery centre. Simple. beautiful. delicious. This is the message my customers get when it is despatched:

    ” Just letting you know your order for Lip Nourish has been processed and was sent via Australia Post yesterday. The packaging has been designed to protect the goods during shipping yet ensure it fits into your letterbox and won’t go via parcel service (no calling cards!). There won’t be a printed invoice / shipping note enclosed + minimal packaging is used so together we can help look after our environment. Enjoy & tx for your order…”

    I’m trying and I know my customers appreciate the care, i have not started on PR so yet to cross that bridge….. ! :)

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  • Gemma

    I love that Cindy :)

    I would be much more likely to buy from companies like yours – I feel much better about indulgent purchases with a story (vintage/handmade) or message (eco-friendly/for charity).

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    Jo @ Shop Naturally Reply:

    I run my whole business like that too. Cindy makes beautiful products. I know, because when she first launched the product, we were super keen to stock them, and we still do. (But, I’m not plugging me here, go check out http://lukbeautifood.com/ and check out her kitchen blog too. Yummo!!)

    We ship out thousands of parcels a month, and we beg, borrow, steal and re-use EVERYTHING we can get our hands on. Recycled boxes, newspaper, packing from suppliers. You name it, we re-use it. People’s parcels turn up in beer boxes and all kinds of things. I think we’ve had 2 complaints in 4 years that the box was scruffy. I politely explained that mother earth came first and I was sorry they weren’t happy with a box they were promptly going to throw away.

    Excess packaging annoys me. A lot. I reject products because of it, both as a consumer and as a retailer.

    If your lips need a bit of nourishment, pop over to visit Cindy, you won’t regret it!

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    Jo @ Shop Naturally Reply:

    Oh, and while you’re there, go find Sally & Jane who make the purses that the packs come in. They create some absolutely gorgeous and amazing purses. I kinda got addiected and bought 3 of them a while back. http://www.sallyandjane.com/

    There’s a lovely story behind this brand.

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    Gemma Reply:

    Thanks for the links Jo – some lovely products & values…I’ve got a few thank you gifts I want to send out & these are perfect :)

  • Graduate

    Think of the poor unpaid interns! Most are University educated graduates trying to catch a break in the industry which involves being put to work on mail outs. The amount of things I’ve had to package in my time is ridiculous! Including boxes filled with sand and shells to promote a beach product, thousands of CDs, USBs, printed press releases, lookbooks etc etc Such a waste of time, money and resources! This also rings true for anyone who works in Retail, where product deliveries arrive with everything individually wrapped in so much unnecessary plastic and paper, most of which does not get properly recycled and which takes so much time to unpack. So glad to see someone with a voice speak up! Thankyou!

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  • Anne

    Reminds me of a letter I sent to my local MP about twenty years ago asking him what he was doing about all the junk and rubbish being produced that was wasting the earth’s resources. Perhaps we should be targeting companies that design/produce/market or sell junk and ask them to rethink their business strategy?

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  • http://www.ecobabe.com.au Jayne @ ecobabe.com.au

    I am on all 3 sides of this situation:
    I am a retailer and send all parcels with minimal packaging, I’ve been reusing boxes from suppliers for 7 years! Reusing packaging can get hard when products are in glass bottles or are delicate liquids
    I am a distributor and have spent ridiculous amounts with PR agencies sending unsolicited goods to media outlets. I followed up myself and discovered that most of the addressees were unaware of my products, ie they were opened by reception, waved past the beauty editor and then deposited on someone else’s desk
    I also receive many unsolicited goods – which I am very grateful for. Most products sent to me are carefully targetted, match our business, and are very appreciated because we only sell what we believe in.

    I’m all for thoughtful consumption, but I believe that there can be thoughtful promotion too.

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  • http://www.amyelandry.com Amy Landry

    Nice one Sarah! No judgement from this end – I really despise receiving copious amounts of packaging also. Ridiculous.

    After spending many years in retail when I was younger, I realised how much packaging goes into transporting EACH and every INDIVIDUAL garment you see that gets hung up on a shelf, not to mention the labour in a foreign country and the transportation that is bad for the planet. CRAZY stuff.

    Thank you for putting this out there!!

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  • http://posiepatchworkblog.blogspot.com.au posie blogs Jennie McClelland

    This is just the mail, imagine what all these silly packages of rubbish are creating in school lunches!! I’m a homebaking, lunch box using mummy of four, as i can’t stand the thought of 4 children, over 13 years of school (plus preschool years) creating so much waste. It’s repulsive. Children don’t need anything more than a sandwich, fruit & something homebaked, if they’re hungry, increase the sandwiches or add a salad (packed with ice bricks) it can happen. All the garbage, including yoghurt containers (pop homemade yoghurt in small Tupperware containers) is crazy & lazy!! My eldest is in year 9, 4th child in year 4, i’m effectively half way through my school mum lunch packing journey & haven’t gotten slack yet. My children struggle to even open a packet of anything, as they are not used to it, makes me proud!! Great topic, love Posie

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    Sophie Reply:

    Love that. My son has just started prep and I am just beginning this journey of low to no packaging lunches. One term down, doing well so far. Thanks for this tidbit of random encouragement! :-)

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  • Adriana

    #firstworldproblems. Sigh.

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  • Asha

    I understand your anger. Though I wonder if it would help if your statement was less ambiguous. When you say “respect my desire not to clutter my life with stuff” “before you send me ….” for some people this wouldn’t translate to “Don’t send me anything I didn’t request” which seems to be what you want. Unfortunately many people are struggling and depend on others ‘consumption’ for their own livelihood and often have families to support. The effect of markedly less consumption, which may be great for the planet, is obviously going to have harsh consequences for those in manufacturing and retail industries (and associated transport/postal services industries). Yes, many of these goods are made in foreign countries but these overseas workers also need to earn a living somehow.

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  • emahjay

    Ah always the PR peeps at fault now isn’t it?! If you don’t want the stuff, then send an email stating you don’t wish to receive it – that way your knickers don’t get bunched up and PR people can continue doing their job.

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  • http://www.roguehomme.com Rogue Homme

    Well said
    A bit of righteous anger never went astray, sometimes it’s the only way to get through :)
    Keep inspiring
    Arrnott
    roguehomme.com

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  • Kellie

    We always fly AIR ASIA as everything is a add on that you can choose or not – even comfort kits. We take our own snacks from home and reuse our comfort kits over and over again!

    Our family had a good ling look at gift giving many years ago and now go for a meal or to a movie together for birthday celebrations instead of gift giving and have a limit on Xmas of $150 that you spend on one person via a kris kringal – we are much happier all sitting around eating and laughing ourselves silly rather than opening gifts.

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  • christine

    I think we need a litle re-programming about our consumption. I shop regularly at charity shops and am always amazed at the sheer quantity of items that are donated, its great that it raises money for charity but it makes me wonder about the obvious excess of goods that we all have. Having mindfulness about what we buy makes sense- there are a finite amount of resources on earth and they need to be used wisely.

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  • Miranda

    Ahmen

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  • http://Missmcliesh.wordpress.com Jess

    Oh Sarah, I cannot agree more. The “someone has touched it” excuse makes me go berserk! It defies all logic. Every single item we buy from the supermarket has been handled by human flesh. Actually I’d be quite tempted to write to Qantas about the blatant ignorance of their flight attendants and their practices.
    I comment daily on people in my office using plastic cutlery or paddle pop sticks just to mix milk into a coffee and then chuck it out. WHY WHY WHY??!!!

    I think you are doing a very good thing by writing about this.

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  • louise

    Just wondering why you were flying Qantas if you promote flying budget airlines?

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  • Jo

    Thank you for the final kick in the pants to cancel my Bella Box subscription. Overpackaged samples of crap I wont use. Done!

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  • http://www.jossieloves.blogspot.com.au Jos

    Yegods woman. What a load of waste there. And apart form the sheer volume – what twats send you sugary snacks? I mean ? WHAT THE?!!!! Good on you for this post – and to the twats who think PR is about pushing product out there in this way – sorry nooooooo. You are being lazy. Find a decent angle and tell the story – don’t just spend hours sending out products charging clients and thinking you’ve done a good job. Fail. (I speak from experience – I work in PR and refuse to send out product willy nilly like this. It stinks.).

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  • Helen

    I would love to know what YOU do with all that stuff now…?

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    Nat Reply:

    I would be very interested in hearing your answer to this too Sarah?

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  • Ruth

    Unfortunately consumerism has gone mad. Because so many things can be bought so cheaply, we tend to have too much stuff. I’m overweight. I’m trying to lose weight not only to be healthier and lighter, but by over eating, I’m ruining more of our earths resources – because most foods are packaged, if I can try to reduce my food intake, I’m also leaving a lighter foot print on earth!

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  • Ruth

    I’d also like to mention children’s birthday parties. They make me mental. The amount of crap given out (in food terms and also little plastic trinkets in things like pass the parcel) is incredible. Children always bring a gift for the birthday child which is of course lovely (but I’ll admit that half of them end up broken and in the bin shortly afterwards – and not to mention the packaging these gifts come in) and then children usually receive a lolly bag ( after stuffing themselves with lollies all avo) as well as plastic goodies that break shortly after and end up thrown out. I would love suggestions to throw a fun but more environmentally birthday party, without other parents thinking I’m ruining the fun??

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    Sophie Reply:

    Now that would be a good post Sarah, or one to outsource. Low waste low sugar kids parties!

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  • Janelle

    I Love reading these comments and Sarah’s blog.
    Comforting to know there are like minded people everywhere and rant all you want Sarah!

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  • http://www.lifewithelizabethrose.com Elizabeth Rose

    I love the message here Sarah! I don’t think you sounds ungrateful at all…you sound like someone who really cares about the environment, sustainability, fair labour and less “guff”.

    Thank you for opening my eyes a little more to this issue.

    Liz xx

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  • http://www.buynothingnew.com.au Tamara

    Sarah Wilson, I really do love you. This is what i’ve been preaching and practicing for years. I worked in PR agencies and was sickened by the lack of care/awareness of our finite resources. When i started my own agency, i vowed only to send electronic releases unless completely essential. In over 8 years, i’ve only ONCE sent a physical media kit with samples in the post and each recipient was researched.

    Please anyone who’s interested in conscientious consumption and respecting the finite resources we have on our planet, check out BUY NOTHING NEW MONTH http://www.buynothingnew.com.au or The New Joneses project on Facebook.

    We’ve only got one planet, yet we’re consuming like we have 4. Common peeps, let’s change this. Starting today with each of us.

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  • Nat

    I find it interesting that everyone is offering solutions to AVOID the problem – but what is happening with the current problem?
    Are you consuming these products? Passing them on to the needy? Throwing them into landfill?
    What are YOU doing about the NOW to counteract this?

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    Nat Reply:

    *sigh*
    Guess no reply means ‘No Comment’….

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  • Nat

    A nice thing to do for non business matters is to wrap presents in teatowels/ table cloths so that the wrapping is also a usable part of the gift. Even a plain white ( hemmed) sheet is good to use as the receiver can use it any way they like.

    Also, when travelling, get your friends to put aside their nearly empty shampoo/comditioner bottles with about a third of the shampoo/conditioner left.When it’s time to pack you can squash the bottles down still leaving the product inside accesible and creating room in your luggage. This creates less reliance on those awful sample sized products.

    :)

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  • http://whereissarah.wordpress.com Sarah

    This reminds me of a great piece George Monbiot wrote last Christmas about the cost of christmas tat. It’s only when we realise the massive impact of these teensy tiny things that we’ll bother to say no to snacks on the plane, etc. Here’s the article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/10/on-12th-day-christmas-present-junk

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  • Yabby

    I once commented to my husband on a qantas flight how ridiculous all the packaging was. The hostess heard and snapped at me that all the packaging was made with potato starch, was biodegradable and was therefore 100% sustainable. So I guess potatoes don’t require any water, pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers or land to produce and the factory that makes the packaging out of them uses no energy, nor the trucks that transport them to qantas, because they’re 100% sustainable according to qantas and that hosty. Phew!

    I have just moved house and am horrified at all the stuff we have accumulated in three years living there. Mostly useless stuff we were given as wedding presents. We shied away from a gift registry not really agreeing with the idea of telling people what to get you but on reflection at least we would have received things we liked and would use!

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  • Joli

    I have to say I find this rant a touch on the humorous side. Not all is as it appears with the guff you were sent. As one of the senders of guff featured in your picture above I would like to say that I did contact you to ask if you wanted to receive my guff. After some understandable scrutiny on your part I was kindly given permission to send guff to you.
    I take great care in my packaging choices and am an avid believer in reusing and recycling. A lot of my packing is reused and recycling packing, i.e. been sent to me which I then reuse. Nothing is wasted. What isn’t recycled is Australian made, which supports small local businesses, our economy and cuts down on overseas shipping and extended carbon emissions related to that.
    Any paper work scent with the items is important information about the contents, otherwise you’re running blind. There are no toxic chemicals in said items, and no sugary snacks.
    Postage may be a vast drain on the countries resources (employed postmen might disagree), all that sorting and travelling and carbon emissions, yet, as one good person pointed out to me – the postmen are going that way already. Giving them extra mail doesn’t negate that fact.
    Aeroplanes (on which you fly) are the biggest environmental polluters there are. Of course your carbon footprint is offset by your commendable bike riding and healthy lifestyle. The point being, many of us have our own carbon offset.
    Regardless of all that, I truly hope you are thoroughly enjoying the guff I sent you, which is perfectly inline with what you stand for. Natural and good for the environment.

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