- Julie Smith
Insist on Sustainable Shipping
Updated: Feb 27, 2022
Aspire is providing bulk refillable wellness products to give consumers an alternative to single-use plastic. We also insist on sustainable shipping of our products, and we expect the same from our suppliers. With the atmospheric carbon on our planet running out of control, we have to make sustainable choices. Globally, we are spewing more than 40 billion tonnes per year of CO2 into our atmosphere, more than at any time in the past 800,000 years, and it's causing the temperature to rise in a phenomena known as global warming, to those who pay attention to what is happening on the only planet we have. There are several reputable scientific studies out there, including my own, showing that if we don't knock this off, our planet will become uninhabitable by the end of this century, if not before. This is disgraceful and unethical to do this to our planet, where future generations will have to deal with the results of our complacency, our arrogance, and our extremely wasteful lifestyle. When we know.
In the U.S., we emit nearly 20 tonnes per capita annually, one of the highest per capita emissions of any country in the world. This is embarrassing and ludicrous, especially when most of our emissions are simply wasteful behavior if we just think about what we're doing and care enough to make simple changes. Case in point. In the U.S., our total plastic production is about 3.5% of our carbon footprint, and single-use plastic is about half of that. At a time when we should be desparately finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint in every way possible, to get it down to about 1/10 of what we pis away now, stopping single-use plastic should be one of the simplest things we can do to help.
Back to shipping, this is why Aspire does not use plastic in shipping, other that where it's absolutely required by law. And, we prefer to work with suppliers who don't use plastic in shipping. Recently, we tried a new supplier, New Directions Aromatics, and bought a bucket of coconut oil. I was extremely disappointed to see this sealed bucket arrive in a box that was much larger than necessary, completely swathed in multiple layers of bubble wrap. And, to make it worse, it was the kind of bubble wrap with completely separate air-filled bubbles, rather than the kind that has rows of linked bubbles. This means that in order to recycle the bubble wrap, I had to punch thousands of individual bubbles before I could put it in the plastic film bin. My hand got cramped. I have severe environmental OCD, so I put myself through it and got it done, but, really, how many people are going to bother to do this? Basically, every package that arrives to the buyer with all this bubble wrap will result in yet more single-use plastic, yet more CO2 in our atmosphere and yet more plastic waste filling our landfills. What a waste! For a sealed plastic bucket that they could have just slapped a label on with no box or bubble wrap, and it would have arrived just fine.
I sent an e-mail to New Directions, to see if they could avoid shipping me product with all this bubble wrap in the future. Here is the e-mail and the response.
e-mail: Enquiry Details: I received my order and can't believe how much plastic was used to ship it. I can't think of more unneccessary use of plastic than shipping a sealed plastic bucket. I am fanatical about avoiding plastic because it is killing our environment, don't need it, don't want it. I never use it when shipping to my customers. Please tell me you won't do that again or I will be very unlikely to order anything else from you.
Response to my e-mail:
Thank you for your suggestion. We are trying to move towards more environmentally friendly packaging. We do not know at this time when this will be implemented. Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.
Thank you for your support.
I wasn't impressed with the lack of urgency, so I will not be purchasing from them again.
A few days later, they sent me a link to rate my experience which, as you can imagine, wasn't very nice. I gave them one star, which was the minimum. Here is what I said:
Reducing carbon footprint is important to me. We are killing our planet and we have to change. Single-use plastic is almost 2% of our U.S. carbon footprint in its manufacture, so a big thing we need to do is stop that. I ordered a sealed plastic bucket of oil that in theory could have been sent without even a box, but it came swathed in a bunch of bubble wrap that I had to punch each bubble just to recycle it. Most people won't bother and it will go in landfill where it will sit for 1000 years. I can't think of a more unneccessary use of plastic. You could easily use paper. I sent you an e-mail and asked you to please stop using bubble wrap, and your answer was you have no immediate plans to do that. So, I have no immediate plans to oreder from you again. Ever. And I will tell that to my friends. I have a blog where I highlight environmental problems and what we need to do to change.
Here is their response to the review:
Thank you for your feedback.
Please note that most of our products are very fragile and the shipping process is quite rough on these products. Over the years we have dealt with numerous cases of damages that occurred during transit. From years of experience, we have found that only bubble wrap was robust enough to withstand the rigors of ground shipments. We did try paper as a substitute at one point, but the results were numerous dents and breakages which resulted in damage to all the products in the box. As a business, working with such fragile products and catering to our customers by offering products at competitive prices, it was not feasible for us to endure losses caused by damages during transit. While we still use bubble wrap for packaging, we continue to explore alternative options that are robust enough to withstand the rigors of ground shipping.
We hope you understand the nature of our products and their requirements for safe and secure shipping.
We would appreciate more opportunities to serve you better in the future.
Thank you for your business and time.
I still am not impressed. My order was definitely not fragile. If they have fragile stuff to ship, they can swath it in paper and be fine, with a plastic bag around products that are flammable. Bubble wrap is just unneccessary. I get my share of essential oils in glass bottles by mail, and the only plastic I may see is a single wrap of bubble around the bottle itself, but they never send me boxes full of bubble wrap. I will definitely not order from this company again. Especially when there are plenty of good companies that do care, an example being Essential Depot. Another good one is Wholesale Supplies Plus. I've never received anything broken from them, and they don't pack the boxes with bubble wrap.
I do this kind of activism to stop environmentally hostile shipping practices every time I receive an irresponably packaged shipment. We all need to do this to stop this and similar practices, and to change this unneccessary waste. Please join me, and refuse to put up with irresponsible shipping practices. It's one of the easiest things we can do, and if us customers push the issue, it will change for better, and our planet may have a chance.