Imli Diaries

Tamarind Chutney

Packaging is the Zoom meeting that could have been an email

Ever received a package and felt like you were playing a super-sized version of pass the parcel?  You open up box after box, unearth layers of air bags and styrofoam, until you start questioning if you inadvertently ordered a collection of nesting dolls. As you peel through the labyrinth of plastic and/or paper layers, the futility of the exercise becomes painfully evident. You have sticky tape on your fingers, your floor resembles a Jackson Pollock, and, much like those Zoom calls that could have been emails, you're left with a headache that surely wasn't itemized on the bill. 

And when you finally reach your long-awaited item, it’s hardly the holy grail moment you envisioned. The item you ordered is dwarfed by the excessive packaging that held it captive. Talk about blowing things out of proportion! And to add insult to injury, the brand likely tacked on an extra 9% markup just for the packaging! 



Packing Peanuts: The Whys of Excess Packaging

So you may be wondering: why do brands insist on giving us the added headache of excess packaging?

Well, it’s for a variety of reasons. Firstly, there's the perception of value. Larger or more elaborate packaging can create a sense of luxury or prestige around a product, enhancing its perceived worth in the eyes of the consumer. Packaging also serves as a means of protection during transit, safeguarding the product from damage and reducing the likelihood of returns or complaints. In fact, packaging executives estimate that the average box is dropped 17 times before it reaches your doorstep! Moreover, brands may utilize elaborate packaging as a marketing tool, leveraging eye-catching designs and innovative features to capture consumer attention and differentiate their product from competitors. Last of all, logistical efficiency plays a role; standardized packaging sizes may not always align perfectly with the dimensions of the product, leading to the use of larger boxes or additional padding to ensure a secure fit during shipping.


Boxed In: The Environmental Impact of Packaging

Excess packaging isn't just about cluttered closets—it's wreaking havoc on our planet. Packaging poses a grave threat to the environment, predominantly due to the prevalent use of non-biodegradable materials like plastic. Every year, approximately 180 billion polybags are manufactured, but less than 15% of polybags in circulation are gathered for recycling. Plastic packaging endures for centuries in landfills and oceans, releasing harmful chemicals and endangering marine life. Although some brands assert that their plastic packaging is biodegradable, these claims are often untrue. 

Meanwhile, paper packaging introduces its own set of challenges. Although people perceive paper packaging to be more sustainable than its plastic counterpart, this is not always true. Paper, of course, drives deforestation and habitat destruction. The production of paper packaging also consumes substantial amounts of water and energy, and when disposed of, generates greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to landfill waste. 


So What are the Alternatives?

Thankfully, as people are increasingly recognizing the environmental toll of traditional plastic and paper packaging, sustainable alternatives have gained momentum. One such solution involves plant-based materials, like bioplastics derived from sources such as cornstarch or sugarcane. These materials offer the advantage of being biodegradable, breaking down naturally over time without leaving harmful residues. Compostable packaging presents another promising option, designed to decompose into organic matter under controlled conditions. Some brands have even embraced mushroom-based packaging, utilizing the natural bonding properties of mycelium to offer sturdy and biodegradable packaging options. 

And what can you do as a consumer? Hold your brands accountable! Demand minimal packaging or try to shop from packaging-conscious brands when possible. As a sustainable fashion brand ourselves, nothing gives up more joy than when our customers place orders asking for minimal packaging! 




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