Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Story of Stuff, and an angry letter

I recently watched the video The Story of Stuff with some friends. (Warning, previous link has sound...) In a succinct twenty-minute whirlwind, it does a broad survey of the often-overlooked environmental and social problems caused by our modern-day consumer economy. The tone was irreverent and frequently over-the-top. I found that amusing, but it could likely be off-putting to those who don't already have a concern for these issues. Nevertheless, I was impressed by how the filmmakers neatly outlined the problems and listed some of the solutions, in such a short video.

On a related note, I bought some pantyhose the other day, and when I opened it, I was disgusted at the amount of packaging it used. Really, there was more packaging than pantyhose. So I fired off a quick note to Hanesbrands, Inc.:
I recently bought a Hanes Luxe Solutions Comfort Thigh High. When I opened the package, I was appalled at how excessive and environmentally-unfriendly the packaging was. There was an outer vinyl(?) package, a cardboard cover, an inner plastic sleeve, and another piece of cardboard backing. This amount of packaging is totally wasteful and unneccessary.

As a consumer, I am perfectly capable of evaluating a product without it being overpackaged for my examination. As a global company, Hanesbrands Inc. is perfectly capable of the minor degree of innovation required to redesign the package to use fewer and more eco-friendly materials, while still protecting and displaying the product attractively. Furthermore, reducing the amount of packaging could even reduce manufacturing and transportation costs for Hanesbrands.

After this recent product experience drew my attention to Hanesbrands, I researched Hanesbrands' track record for environmental and social responsibility on the Responsible Shopper website, I was very disappointed at my findings. I hope that Hanesbrands make a more sincere and substantive effort to address its tarnished record, perhaps starting with a simple reevaluation and redesign of its product packaging. Until then, I will take my business elsewhere, away from Hanesbrands.

I try to take a few minutes to send a note to a company if I feel strongly that their practices could use improvement. I know that my letter is only a drop in the bucket, but hey, with enough drops you can overflow the bucket.

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