As I  decluttered the other day, I recycled — or at least tried to — boxes for various electronic devices. I always try to keep boxes so that moving is easier later, on the theory of better stackability. And that if my computer boxes must contain Styrofoam, better it stays in my basement than goes in a landfill.

But the reality is that you run out of storage space. You have to weigh the cost and benefits of keeping the packaging. In this case, the device, an iPod docking station, came with a mod carrying case like small cosmetic luggage from days gone by. So keeping the outer box was unnecessary.

I love this little critter, the iWoofer from RainDesign, Inc. She looks like a little space alien bug and is named Franny because the iPod is named Zooey. Why not?

First I had to remove the plastic handle from the box. When I tore into the box lid, along with the handle came a stretchy dull plastic coating. This was no mere varnish but almost a shrink wrap. According to a print rep of mine (an FSC-certified and zero-waste printer), it was likely a laminate adhered to the surface. And not recyclable.

Now I’m faced with whether to recycle the box even though I’m quite certain that the laminate makes this difficult, if not impossible. So I went to the company’s website to comment on the packaging and happened to notice a Green Certified Site logo. Clicking on it led me to CO2stats which allows a company to track the CO2 emissions from the website’s visitors (the energy used by the computers) and then the company can pay to offset the emissions.

This is an interesting idea, but I’m inclined to wonder if this is in concert with an overall sustainable business practice or if it’s an isolated feature. I would like to think my contacting the company is not just a complaint, and instead a challenge to find a better solution. I don’t need an iPod docking station but many of us have to buy products whose packaging must then be thrown away.

So far, you can’t buy a computer from the bulk bin like flour at the supermarket. Until that day, what if we all challenged companies to make better packaging?

Anyone have an similar experience? Feel free to comment.

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