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I'm writing letters to my favorite companies.
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April 2, 2010
8:44 pm
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I just went to Wholesome Sweetners, they sell Organic Sugar in plastic bags. I get mine at Costco. I requested they change to recycled paper bags. This is just a first step. Please join me and in making your voice heard.

http://www.wholesomesweeteners…..ct_us.html

Rachel

April 2, 2010
11:50 pm
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Another letter. I love this tea. You too can easily write a letter online. Just click on the link below.

http://www.celestialseasonings…..index.html

Dear Celestial Seasonings,

I have been a customer for many years, 20+. I love your tea, and I really appreciate your commitment to reducing the packaging found on most tea.

I would like to suggest, you do away with the outer plastic covering on your tea boxes. I am trying to reduce the amount of plastic I purchase, for many reasons, including health and the environment. I would appreciate your consideration on this subject.

Sincerely,

April 3, 2010
3:11 am
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Awesome letters. Thank you for posting them.

FYI: The topic of the Spring Cleaning Get the Junk Out carnival, in which I am participating weekly, will be about sugar, and I planned to mention Wholesome Sweeteners and their plastic bags. Here's the link to the carnival schedule:

http://fakeplasticfish.com/201…..-carnival/

The sugars post is on 4/13. It would be awesome if you would also include your comment there as well.

As for Celestial Seasoning, I actually received an email from a PR rep for the company who wanted me to participate in a Celestial Seasonings cold & flu season promotion, touting their teas that are good for colds. And I told her I'd love to do it if CS would stop packaging in plastic.

Here is what I wrote to her:

The main reason of all that I can't participate is that my blog is not just a general interest green blog but specifically related to plastic. Here is my review policy: http://fakeplasticfish.com/adv…..ew-policy/

So, because of the plastic wrapper around the box, I can't do it. Also, I wonder what the teddy bear in the kit is made from? Polyester? (Which is also plastic.)

I do think that your teas are great, but it would really seem strange to my readers for me to promote a product that comes wrapped in non-biodegradable plastic when the main topic of Fake Plastic Fish is ways to live without plastic packaging.

Any chance they'd get rid of the plastic wrapper? Or switch to something biodegradable like cellulose?

Her response was that she would pass my comments on to the company. However, like I said, she was a PR rep. I should write directly to the company like you have. I realize they need to keep their box secure. But maybe a simple sticker rather than an entire box wrap would be better. Keep in mind that unlike other teas that come individually wrapped for protection, CS's teas are unwrapped, so I think they have to do something to keep the product secure.

Okay, one more thing after all this typing: do you have a place where you can buy bulk loose teas? That's what I do, which is probably why I haven't pursued Celestial Seasonings. My Whole Foods sells some bulk teas, and I bring my own container. Also, not far from here there is an herb shop that has millions of dried herbs that you can mix and match. I bring my own container there as well.

I realize most people don't have access to resources like that, but if you do, maybe forget about bagged teas.

April 6, 2010
6:33 pm
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Yes, I'm officially one of *those* people, too :) I noticed at the grocery store that Arm & Hammer is being packaged in a plastic "shaker" type container (for dispensing on kitchen and bathroom surfaces for cleaning). I asked them to consider biodegradable options for packaging instead of plastic, and encouraged them to continue selling baking soda in the traditional cardboard box for years to come.

I don't know what I'd do if they switched their baking soda to plastic containers – I use it for everything.

April 7, 2010
10:06 pm
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I'm about to write a note to Home Depot. We bought a compact flourescent bulb there on the weekend. It is a house brand called ecosmart TM and it came in a plastic clamshell. Uggh! I didn't want to buy it, but my husband was adament that the bulb be replaced that day.

Anyway, it hardly seems "ecosmart" to put a CF bulb in a plastic clamshell. Along the lines of Beth's discussion yesterday about organic food in plastic packaging, the topic of "green" products in ungreen packaging would be interesting. Or maybe that's been done before. I have only been a devotee for a couple of months now.

April 8, 2010
7:02 pm
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I hear you about the CFL's in clamshells. In fact, I wrote about a disaster with one of those back in the beginning of this blog:

http://fakeplasticfish.com/200…..een-story/

Since then, I have found them in cardboard boxes.

April 9, 2010
3:34 pm
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Here is what I wrote King Arthur Flour (I sent this to customercare@kingarthurflour.com):

Dear King Arthur Flour,

I love your all natural flour. I am so excited you recently added the unbleached cake flour blend to your great array of products. I do have one complaint however, it comes in a nice box, but inside the box is a plastic bag. Can you do away with the plastic bag? How about some wax paper? The bag, as is, cannot even be recycled.

I am trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste I produce, and eat as healthy as I can. Plastic leaches into our food, and impacts our environment. Please help me, and help the world by removing the plastic.

April 9, 2010
4:34 pm
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August 22, 2011
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Thank you Beth Terry for your insight and wisdom!

I am actually growing mint in my garden and I plan to harvest it, dehydrate it and have my own mint tea soon! I will have to grow some hybiscus also to make some zinger tea. The north Whole Foods store does not have loose tea, but if I drove to the south store, I'm sure I could find some. I already have to drive 20 min to get to the closest store, which I do, but want to avoid traveling further than necessary. Maybe I could ask them to carry more loose tea.

Anyway, I just love the flavors of Celestial Seasonings Tea. They are just so darn good!

Have a great day! Rachel

April 9, 2010
6:30 pm
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I'd like to do something more widespread, but also local. I live in NYC, and the amount of plastic waste generated by delivery and takeout foods (which New Yorkers are addicted to) is staggering. What I want to do (apart from making everyone I know aware of how big a problem this is) is come up with an efficient way of making local businesses aware that people like me are turned off by wasteful packaging, and, probably of more interest to them, using biodegradable packaging will give them a competitive advantage.

I've considered email campaigns (to avoid paper waste of letters), but I'm not sure I'll reach most mom-and-pop businesses effectively that way. I've also considered a short notice printed on card stock that I could hand to every business I visit, encouraging them to go green.

Any other ideas?? (Anyone have any luck contacting local politicos, hoping to get them to make a public issue of it??)

April 10, 2010
10:11 am
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AWalker, check out the web site Take Out Without (http://takeoutwithout.com). It's a campaign to get more people to bring their own containers and encourage restaurants to reduce take out waste, and they have little cards you can print out and leave with restaurant staff.

April 10, 2010
10:15 am
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Rachsbabycakes, growing your own herbal teas has got to be the best option of all. Unfortunately, my gardening skills are the worst. But I do have friends who grow and dry their own herbs, and sometimes they are willing to share. :-)

April 15, 2010
2:59 am
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Try, try again! Here is my follow up letter to WS. I'll keep you posted!

Wholesome Sweeteners,

It is great your bags are labeled for recycling, and I understand that Wholesome Sweeteners is doing more than many companies by at least making the package recyclable. Unfortunately much of our recycling is now being shipped to either China or India and causing major environmental damage, and health problems for people who have so little. Not to mention that plastic can only be recycled on a limited basis and more "new" material has to be added to the recycled product.

Obviously Wholesome Sweeteners cares about our planet and about people living in indigenous areas. Please consider switching your packaging to a reused paper product.

Once again, thank you for your consideration.

April 23, 2010
3:34 pm
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August 22, 2011
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I noticed that one of my favorite beverages (Sobe) has started to package their drinks in plastic bottles. Besides the taste of their delicious fruit punch, I choose their product because it has always been packaged in a glass container. I wrote Sobe a letter about how much I enjoy their product and how disappointed I was that they are now using plastic. Their reply is the following:

————-

Dear Holly,

Thank you for contacting us at SoBe Beverages. From your message, it's clear that our recent changes have disappointed you and for that we're truly sorry. Our purpose for this change is to provide our consumers with more convenient packaging, keeping pace with their on-the-go lifestyles, while also staying in line with our company's sustainability efforts. In order to accommodate our new packaging, slight modifications to specific flavors had to be made. However, we value all consumer feedback, and we'll be sure to share your comments with our SoBe brand team. Thanks again for writing. We hope you'll continue to enjoy SoBe in our new look.

Jackie Parks

Consumer Relations Representative

————

I was taken aback by her reply because of this phrase: "while also staying in line with our company's sustainability efforts." Sobe has an option to reply to a reply so my letter back to them was the following:

————

Dear Sobe,

Thank you for your reply. However, I am very confused as to how packaging your product in plastic bottles is "staying in line with our company's sustainability efforts".

Once plastic has been collected and sorted, it faces a weak market. Simply collecting plastic does not mean that there will be a buyer willing to pay for the raw

material. It is often cheaper and easier to make plastic containers from new, nonrenewable resources. Plastic resin has limited value as a commodity because its

quality degrades every time it is reheated. Consequently, most plastic is only reprocessed once before it goes to a landfill. “Downcycling” is a more accurate term than “recycling” when it comes to plastic.

Unlike glass or aluminum, plastic recycling does not “close the loop” because most postconsumer bottles are not made into new plastic bottles. Instead, milk

jugs, soda containers and other bottles are turned into lower-grade products such as jacket fill, fleece, carpet, toys or plastic lumber. None of these products

are in turn recyclable (http://www.eurekarecycling.org…..ations.pdf)

Knowing this is the case, can you elaborate on how this is sustainable?

————-

Hopefully I will hear back from them soon!

April 28, 2010
7:43 pm
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This is a follow-up to my Sobe post. I received a reply from them regarding my reply about how packaging their product in plastic bottles could not possibly support their sustainability policy.

———-

Dear Holly,

Thank you for your follow-up message and for sharing your thoughts.

We do appreciate your thoughtful perspective on this important issue, and I will pass along your comments to Senior Management.

In the meantime, please know that we at PepsiCo are working hard across our businesses to meet the industry-leading sustainability goals we have set for ourselves. You can find out more about our commitment and efforts by visiting http://www.pepsico.com.

Thanks again for writing.

Jackie Parks

Consumer Relations Representative

————

Thrilling response, huh?

April 29, 2010
4:59 am
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Man, I have such issues with Pepsi. Check it out:

http://fakeplasticfish.com/200…..led-water/

Anyway, good for you for pushing them! In addition to the recycling issues, there are also questions about what chemicals could leach out of the plastic bottles. Maybe you could mention that in your follow-up. If Pepsi can claim that their plastic bottle is safe, then they should be willing to disclose the "recipe" for the plastic, including all of the additives.

Thanks for doing this!

April 29, 2010
4:02 pm
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Thanks everyone for sharing your emails and links. I've also emailed Wholesome Sweeteners since I purchase those at Costco too, as well as Celestial Seasonings tea. The replies I received are similar to yours above, but hey, if more of us keep doing this and sending these type of emails asking for non-plastic packaging, maybe they will listen. As a side note, when I went to Europe last year, I bought empty tea bags that you fill yourself (and they came in cardboard box, with no plastic wrap), and then I buy my loose tea at Whole Foods in reusable glass jars (old spaghetti jars) to make plastic-free tea.

April 29, 2010
5:57 pm
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Everyone -- I'd like to put up a post on Fake Plastic Fish letting people know about this discussion, summarizing each of the letter-writing efforts, and asking them to participate or suggest other letter-writing campaigns.

Could each of you leave a comment with the address/phone number/contact person at the company you are targeting, as well as a one sentence summary of the response?

Thanks!

Beth

August 24, 2011
9:05 am
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I love the idea of writing letters to companies.  I have written to a number of companies, to thank them for their sustainability efforts (Seeds of Change), to encourage them to reduce their packaging waste (Annie's), and even to tell them that I will no longer purchase any of their products due to their lack of sustainability efforts and their disregard for the environment (Nestle Worldwide, Coca Cola, Pepsi Co…trust me that's a lot of different packaged beverages and foods!)

I've been amazed by how few companies I now support, rather unintentionally, due to my choice to reduce my waste - especially with foods.   When I do want to purchase something packaged I always think about it and try to remember to contact the company to give my feedback, positive, negative, or inquisitive, regarding the packaging and it's contents.

 

I think having a collabrative effort to contact companies is a fabulous idea.  Maybe once a week a different company could be featured with a link for how to contact them??? I think if one week a company received 100+ emails requesting that they improve their packaging that could grab their attention.  Maybe circulate a few of the major offenders so their receiving 100+ emails once a month!! Ooh…the ideas are bubbling!

March 26, 2012
2:16 pm
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March 26, 2012
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I posted on the main page of this forum but here is the actual letter I sent to Trader Joe's.  As I said, I'm very disappointed and disturbed by their packaging of produce.  PRODUCE!!!!  Something so 100% natural and degradable!

The response I received informed me that the email will be forward to a supervisor and that there are reasons for packaging produce (freshness, prices, which I realize) and that "with enough demand – you never know" referring to change in their packaging methods.  So I urge others to write to Trader Joe's as well.

I used the general comment/contact us link from their website.

"Rachel" from webRelations@traderjoes.com is who responded to me.

If anyone is interested just for an idea, my original letter is below:

 

Dear Trader Joe,
First of all, thank you so much for your great products and unique grocery store chains.  I've found Trader Joes to have great food, be a company that stands behind its products and have very friendly, knowledgable staff!!  I have been a big fan, supporter and VERY frequent shopper of Trader Joe's since the Manhattan stores began opening.  At a student at NYU, I visited the union square TJ's when it first opened.  I was a dedicated customer, waiting in the long lines, just to enter!  It was well worth it, because I found a grocery store that I felt was dedicated to its customers and had a bigger picture in mind, than just the end line net profit.  When I graduated from NYU and moved to Williamsburg in Brooklyn, I still made the stop to Trader Joes very often.  In 2009 I moved to northern Manhattan and yearned for a nearer TJ's.  I was beyond excited when the 72nd street location opened!  It is close enough to get to from home and **bonus** two blocks from where I work.
Now, I visit Trader Joes about 2-5 times a week, stopping in for a yogurt or something to eat at lunch and it has become my primary grocer, where I do my weekly shopping on a regular basis.
What I have come to notice and become very disappointed in is the excess packaging that is used.  My particular concern is is the produce area.  Naturally biodegradable foods are wrapped in unnecessary plastic packaging.  I'm sure you're well aware of how hazardous plastics are to our environment, how they pollute our land and oceans and how little they are able to be recycled, and those that can be recycled, rarely are.  I won't go on and on about the plastic problems, but please know it is of a concern for me.
That being said, I would hope Trader Joe's would do all it can to help eliminate such an issue.  They do offer paper over plastic at the check out and encourage customers to bring reusable bags, BUT what is all the excess plastic packaging about!
I understand there may be reasons for doing so.  Perhaps it is necessary for TJ's to sell multiples of produce to keep within their price range.  There are other ways of accomplishing this.  A simple sign, "must buy three", with a small explanation in the witty style of other TJs posters would satisfy most consumers, I believe.  Maybe freshness is of concern and a reason for the packaging.  This is of valid concern – who wants wasted squash or peppers.  However, if we weigh it against plastic pollution, the unbalance is clear to me.  One option the byproduct is extra food.  Which is easily biodegradable and may even be able to be dedicated to soup kitchens or other organizations.  The other option the byproduct is excess plastic, which can be found blowing down the street, floating in our rivers and oceans, in the stomachs of wild life and sprinkled throughout various natural habitats.  The more responsible, healthy option is clear to me. What can we do about this?  How can I help?  I would really appreciate any feedback that someone, anyone, is able to give me about this matter.
Please feel free to contact me anytime.  I'd be more than happy to talk further about my concern and help in any way I can.
Thank you very much for your time in reading this email.
I look forward to hearing from someone soon!

March 26, 2012
2:21 pm
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Also, I really like "nic@greenchic" 's idea to target a company a month.  If multiple people's efforts are pooled together it may put our concern to higher importance to the company.  I would be interested in taking part in an effort like this.Smile

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