You’ve heard of paying it forward? This post is about sending it back. And no, I’m not talking about that mean thing that sport fishermen do. I’m referring to unwanted plastic that shows up my my doorstep unsolicited. I’ve decided that in addition to e-mailing or sending a letter to the company, I’m just going to ship it right back to them! So here are a few things I’ve sent back this week:
As many of you know, I’ve been having no luck finding plastic-free cheddar cheese here in the Bay Area. (And no, I haven’t found a deli that will wrap it in plain paper that is not lined with plastic.) Yet cheese is one of the few things I’m not willing to give up. So I decided that I would put my eco-energy into purchasing good quality local organic cheese from happy cows that graze on pasture, rather than hormones, antibiotics, and corn (organic or not); and allow it to be one of my few plastic indulgences. That said, I didn’t want extra plastic. Just the unavoidable cheese wrappers.
So when I ordered several blocks of organic cheddar from Loleta Cheese Factory, I included a note asking not to have any plastic or styrofoam packaging if possible and for them to call me before shipping if there was any problem with that instruction. Well, the cheese arrived, packaged with a bunch of styrofoam peanuts. I could have cried.
Instead, I took out the cheese, put a nice letter inside the box explaining why I was sending them a bunch of styrofoam peanuts, sealed it up, and mailed it back to the company. And two days later I received a very apologetic e-mail from Loleta employee, Cindy Davy. Turns out I’d accidentally used the word, “extra,” in my instructions. As in, “no extra styrofoam.” So they interpreted that to mean I wanted some styrofoam. I’ve got to be soooooo careful with my words!
Anyway, Cindy graciously offered me a credit in the amount that I paid to ship the box back and promised it wouldn’t happen again. The cheese is great, so I may reorder. We’ll see. There is another cheesery, Spring Hill Cheese Company, that is geographically closer to me and also raises happy cows. In fact, they sell at my farmer’s market. But I didn’t care for the taste of their cheese the last time I tried it. Maybe I should give them another chance too.
That worked so well, I decided to send a few more things back. I received this DVD along with a bunch of coupons from Straus Family Creamery after sending them a love letter about their ice cream. Straus, located in Marin County, also raises happy cows (we’ve got a theme going here) and in addition to selling the milk, they make the best ice cream in the world. (Okay, Michael, besides Toscanini’s in Cambridge.) And they use the least plastic possible on their cardboard cartons: just the coating on the inside. You guys know that all cardboard ice cream and milk cartons and pretty much any paper products that hold food are coated with plastic, right?
Well, I gladly accepted and used those coupons! But I don’t need the DVD, which is just extra plastic. Especially since the videos, showing how Straus’s farm and dairy operate, are also on their web site. So tonight I’m sending that back with a very nice note thanking them nicely but letting them know I don’t need the extra plastic.
And here’s another send back for tonight. A promotional mailing from General Mills. It’s a plastic ring that says, “Eat Better.” You’re supposed to wear it around your finger to remind yourself to… um… eat better. (Than what?) And it’s packaged in a plastic sleeve. I don’t feel like composing a letter for this one. The label is marked “Return Service Requested.” So I wrote, “Return to Sender” and in the tiny available space, “Please do not send me unsolicited plastic. Plastic waste is harmful to the environment.” And I’m not even getting into the irony of General Mills, makers of Hamburger Helper, Cocoa Puffs (sorry Marika!), and Totino’s pizza rolls, advising me to eat better.
And finally, I’m sending myself back. Back to the old homestead in Maryland for a few days where my dad advises me to “metamorphize vis-a-vis plastic use in this here household. Just give it up, babe! Don’t think about it. Then, we all will be HAPPY!” Are you reading this Dad? I’ll be there in a day and a half, reusable bottle and camera in hand. Are your kitchen cabinets and refrigerator ready for my exposé?
As Bill Maher might say, “I kid my dad from love!”
And I do plan to blog for at least a couple of days while I’m there to capture the parental perspective. Don’t worry. It’ll be fun.