Too Many Cardboard Boxes

Kuhu Mathur
Jun 6 · 4 min read

Kuhu Mathur

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Cardboard, packing peanuts, bubble wrap. Did you order that from Amazon? By ordering something from Amazon, you as a consumer are not only getting the product that you asked for but probably a very large big cardboard box and a bunch of packing bubbles. But the moment you open up that package, you are relieved that the product you ordered isn’t broken or defected in any way. So the extra packaging is good right? It has allowed the e-commerce industry to expand and made it easier for the buyers to consume products at a much higher rate. And especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, society is shut inside their homes and ordering necessities online rather than going to the grocery store has become much more popular. So overall, the packaging that comes with e-commerce purchases protects your package and secures a safe delivery to your end destination. So all the packing bubbles are good right? No, not really.

Think about every single piece of packaging stocked in your garage, including the box and packaging bubbles. Slowly with each purchased package and its extra content will start piling up. That is a lot of garbage. And the thing about packaging is that it is only used once. For example, the cardboard that was produced for your Amazon package was only created for the safe delivery of your product. Cardboard having a high watermark is then rendered useless (partially usable if not recycled) after you open your package. You get the idea. All the extra packaging piling up. An average American and non-Prime user was expected to order 13 packages and a Prime user averaged 24 in 2018. There are an estimated 112 million US Amazon Prime users (data from December 2019). Therefore in 2018 alone, the US Amazon Prime users produced an estimated 269 million of excess cardboard and other packaging materials. This is not even accounting for other years and non-Prime users and the entire world. And again we are only counting for Amazon as the e-commerce site.

Again, thinking about all the packaging just sitting in your garage and in everyone else’s. Amazon users have one thing in common, a supply of time. Many people are not aware of the proper ways to recycle. Out of laziness or having not much time on their hands, people often dump everything in the trash rather than recycling. The extra packaging proves harmful for the environment because it obviously causes excess waste entering the landfills and further polluting the planet.

So far Amazon is the only big corporation that is mentioned, but this problem runs with most e-commerce companies. The harm of packaging is not seen since it is the most convenient to ship off the products to consumers. The deal is that any online order will be delivered in packaging.

But can we change that? E-commerce has grown our economy by creating jobs and allowed needed products to reach consumers at a much higher pace. Our society has fallen a crutch to it. Doesn’t this mean we should at least try to eliminate its major flaw?

To solve this problem we must follow the business model of small Korean Beauty Brands. A brand by the name of Benton Cosmetics uses eco-friendly packaging to ship its products all over the world. Instead of packaging peanuts they used an “eco friendly paper buffer with FSC certification”. And instead of normal plastic tape they use a biodegradable tap that is made from an organic adhesive. And the box itself is made from 100% recycled paper. The brand also has a “tree-free” packaging agenda where they promise to use sugar canes to create the packaging. The brand has an “eco-friendly” promise to the Earth. And with the dire state of the planet all brands, not just e-commerce ones should adopt this motto.

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Brands such as Benton Cosmetics prove that it is possible to make the e-commerce business eco-friendly! Instead of wasting resources and time in creating brand new cardboard boxes, companies should acquire recycled material to make packages. It’s eco-friendlier and cheaper.

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