I was asked that question by @flipkartdotcom in response to the feedback I gave them once I got my first set of books ordered there delivered – in really good shape and within the promised time, I must add.
Question : how do we solve this plastic-derived-convenience issue ? Undeniably, the books might suffer a bit if there were no plastic wrapping (tho, of course, one wrapper for both might have used at least a little lesser). Its a question of probabilities, but the cost we, as a society, are willing to pay in our quest to be 100% on service, on convenience, etc, is not really being counted economically. Obviously, I do not expect Flipkart, a fledgling startup, to start charging consumers an additional fee for plastic wrapping – they’ve got to stay competitive – but somewhere, our ‘needs’ consumers themselves need to be redefined, and policymakers need to ensure some of these:
- The usage of plastics in packing, shipping etc, must come at a cost thats reflective of its entire lifecycle, and the indirect costs in terms of landfills, health issues, loss of agricultural land, etc, so that
- alternatives are explored
- the need is pondered upon real hard on a case by case basis. A Bangalore delivery, in winter, by courier, wrapped in a very sturdy and “minor splash resistant” cardboard box, when the forecast indicates no rain – will probably not qualify if the cost barrier is not kept artificially low like it currently is.
- The industry that introduces plastic, or any other material into the consumption cycle, MUST be made responsible to ensure they provide a collection mechanism for suchlike, as well. All tetrapack manufacturers, for instance, MUST be made to buy back a certain percentage of aluminum that is recycled from older packaging.
The sad truth is that our dependence on plastics has gone up phenomenally – so much so that we cannot even see alternatives, or alternative paths, for many of our day to day needs. Its like a smoker who’s lungs are beginning to give up, yet cannot give up on the habit. As a species, we’re so screwed if we keep going down this path.
As for Flipkart, they could, for starters, explore bio-degradable plastic etc, and perhaps get some carbon credit, or positive publicity out of this atr least. [ Dunno if those work, but the Total Mall says they use them, so worth exploring. ]