I’ve been looking for a webcam for a while because I want to be able to meet with people via Skype rather than travel to meet up in person. I’ve done way too much flying this year, and all those emissions are weighing hard on my conscience.
I hoped to find a secondhand webcam rather than buying a new one. But after an unfortunate incident with a Radio Shack employee last month, I ended up with a $20 store credit and nothing else to spend it on. So I applied the credit toward the purchase of a very basic Logitech webcam.
Check out what Arya and I found when I got home and opened the box:
The camera, install disk, and instruction manual together weigh 4.3 ounces. The packaging material weighs 4.4 ounces — more than the product itself! The plastic window will be added to my tally in September. The cardboard box will go into the recycling bin. But I can’t let that be the end of the story. Some small amounts of packaging are unavoidable, but this amount is outrageous. So I sent the following letter to Logitech’s VP of Products. We’ll see how he responds.
September 19, 2010
Junien Labrousse, Executive VP, Products
6505 Kaiser Dr.
Fremont, CA 94555 USA
Dear Mr. Labrousse:
Recently, I purchased a Logitech Webcam C210 from Radio Shack in Berkeley, CA, and upon opening the box, I was astounded by the product to packaging ratio. The webcam itself is 3” wide x 3” long x 1.5” tall. The box, on the other hand, is 8.25” x 3” x 6”. That’s 11 times the volume of the camera itself! (See attached photo.)
Mr. Labrousse, since you are the VP of Products, I urge you to find a more sustainable way to package Logitech’s products. There are better uses for the planet’s resources than disposable packaging. I purchased the webcam as a way to reduce my own carbon footprint since having a webcam will allow me to cut travel emissions by teleconferencing rather than meeting in person. However, I am also very mindful of the amount of waste I am generating from disposable packaging (especially plastic) and am trying to reduce that amount as much as possible as well.
You may think that one webcam box is insignificant. But multiply the amount of virgin paper and plastic in this one box by the total amount of product that you sell annually. The amount of waste is staggering. I do notice that there is a “chasing arrows” symbol at the bottom of the box. What does that symbol mean? How much of the package is actually made from recycled content? As far as I can tell, none of it is. And while the cardboard may be recyclable, the plastic window is surely not.
Mr. Labrousse, I look forward to your response and to learning what steps Logitech is taking to reduce the amount of packaging waste it generates in the future. I and my blog readers will be interested to hear your answer.
FYI: Amazon.com does have some Logitech webcams for sale in Frustration-Free Packaging, which means that the box is plain cardboard without “excess packaging materials such as hard plastic clamshell casings, plastic bindings, and wire ties.” And frustration-free packaging is made to be shipped as is without the need for an outer box.
But I wonder which is more eco-friendly: ordering products to be shipped individually from Amazon.com in sustainable packaging or buying overpackaged products that have been shipped in quantity to a local store? If you eliminate auto emissions (since I’d be riding my bike to the store), does the fuel savings outweigh the packaging waste? I don’t know.
And that’s why I try not to buy new things in the first place.