20 Pledges for 2020: Why I'm cutting down on plastic packaging from online shopping
Convenient online shopping is not just breaking the bank, the amount of packaging is obscene, says Emma Henderson
There’s a running joke among my friends that wherever we go or whatever we do, I’ve got to buy something. I'll admit, there’s more than a hint of truth in it. I like to shop. And my habit is the same with online shopping. Worse in fact.
When you can pay for a year of "next day delivery", buying online is so easy and quick (literally the click of a button), and with near-constant discounts, it’s hard to resist.
But the worst problem of online shopping is not just my bank balance, it’s the obscene amount of plastic packaging that comes with it. And what are we expected to do with those annoying, non-recyclable thin plastic bags every item is individually wrapped in? They’re non-reusable.
Before, I’ve even ordered underwear online which was sent on plastic hangers. Who hangs their pants?! It’s mindless. I tweeted the offending M&S about it – obviously I did not hear back. They are the queen of pants, but pants when it comes to packaging.
And it's not just my personal shopping. At The Independent, I’m the IndyBest editor, where I edit and write product reviews on everything from reusable water bottles to sofas.
We religiously test the products we feature, and to do so we receive samples of them. That means packaging, in excess, comes my way.
From thin plastic wrappers, polystyrene, bubble wrap, jiffy bags, inflatable bottle protectors, brown packing tape and Sellotape. Lots of Sellotape. It’s all consuming.
But it's seemingly, not inevitable.
Throughout 2019, I noticed a number of brands were starting to use other materials for packaging: recycled paper and mulched boxes instead of polystyrene, part recycled delivery bags, and properly recyclable jiffy bags, while some brands managed almost entirely to eliminate plastic from its outgoing packaging.
Other brands, many of which emerged post David Attenborough's Blue Planet, have made an entire business off removing plastic from products. For example, Who Gives a Crap now sell plastic free toilet paper. It's so simple. But genius.
Inspired by these brands, I'm pledging that throughout 2020, I will find the best alternative to plastic packaging and reduce my own consumption of it, both in my job and outside of it.
I’ll be asking brands to consider packaging before sending products to us at IndyBest, and that also means I can’t always buy something (see ya, Asos…).
Hopefully those brands who are lagging behind will be inspired to join us, and help the tide on all our plastic packaging habits. Somehow I doubt my friends will drop the joke, though.