this makes me angry…
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.
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.
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.
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…