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Frustration-Free Christmas

Although I buy used things most of the year and even for Christmas, too, my husband feels strongly that Santa shouldn’t be cheap, and that he (or she) needs to worry a little less about the environment at this time of year. Unless Santa has unearthed something super-cool on eBay like the retired Little Tikes doll-size salon — he brought that for Big Girl in 2006 — Chris feels like the girls should have new things to open up under the tree. That’s why this year I was the only one giving used stuff to the girls like the pile of 10 BabySitter’s Club Little Sister books purchased for $.50 each, for example. Santa and the relatives were allowed to buy new.

One of the things my father-in-law bought for Little Girl introduced me to a relatively old concept from Amazon.com: Amazon Frustration-Freeā„¢ Packaging. Not only did I love the idea, but in use, it’s pretty great.

Here’s the deal: Amazon works with manufacturers to create the same version of products that they sell in the stores, with one significant difference: It comes in as little packaging as possible. So, for example, in the case of the Fisher-Price Little Superstar Jammin’ Band Musical Microphone, it came to us in a plain brown box. We opened it up and it was all in there — no twist ties, no plastic packaging, no excess cardboard. Easy to assemble, very little waste, and no plastic aside from the plastic the toy was made of.

And it goes past just reducing packaging. Amazon is actually working to take this idea one step further and get manufacturers to think about packaging as not just making less waste, but making that waste more useful. Here’s what Amazon recently posted on its Green Scene blog, written by JoAnn Hines, (@packagingdiva): “…less packaging or a different packaging material is not the answer. We need to look at packaging holistically that is from the raw materials used through the manufacturing process to the ultimate disposal. Think about how packaging can be integrated into the entire big picture. What most consumers don’t understand is that we can’t have products without packaging and what manufactures and CPG’s don’t understand is that consumers want to see lees of it. There in lies the problem, miscommunication!”

Wow, a big company working with even bigger companies to help the environment? That’s impressive. So is Amazon’s green blog, which features posts from some of the best eco and green companies and writers out there. As for the toys: I’m sold, of course. From now on if I need to purchase a new toy — whenever possible — I am going to choose the Frustration-Free Amazon option. I can always off-set carbon created by delivery. I can’t un-create the waste created by more traditional packaging.

What was your biggest packaging nightmare this holiday season? Your least? Would you shop specifically based on packaging? I’d love to hear about it.

One Response to “Frustration-Free Christmas”

  1. sheri says:

    This is a great idea except what about the toys being bought? Fisher Price, Mattel etc. are hardly environmentally friendly. The plastic toys are not good for the environment or children. So isn’t it like making something with bamboo, gluing it with formaldahyde based glue, covering it in polyurethane coating and then telling people it is good because it is bamboo? I applaude you for being conscious of packaging but there are a lot of toy companies out there who make incredible & safe toys in almost no packaging, not because Amazon asks, but because they seriously care. Plan toys, imagiplay, & green toys for starters.

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