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Phone Call to Best Foods

In an ongoing effort to reduce the amount of plastic in my life, I've started contacting the manufacturers of the products I like and asking them to go back to glass/ceramic/paper, reduce packaging, go organic (yeah right!) and otherwise "go green". I'm all for small companies putting out great green products in green packaging, but the way to affect REAL change is to change the behavior of the people who are controlling the majority of the market share (Kraft, ConAgra, Cargill, Safeway, Albertsons... take your pick). Today we're going to use mayonnaise for our example.

I grew up eating mayo on just about every sandwich. I love sandwiches, and I've yet to find a replacement that tastes as good to me as Best Foods Mayonnaise. I know it's not particularly good for me, so I try to put as little on as I can get away with, but I love the stuff. For the sake of argument, we'll call it one of my guilty pleasures (because I'm bothered by the fact that I'm contributing to a multinational corporation with a rather spotty record.

Used to be that mayo always came in glass jars. They were useful for lots of things when you were done storing mayo in them... drinks and fluids of all sorts come to mind (my favorite was lightly used degreaser that I reused). So why the switch to plastic jars? Sure, they break less and weight less so they cost less to ship... but plastic almost NEVER gets recycled, and you can't take one mayonnaise jar and reuse it as another mayo jar or melt it down and make another one (a stupid idea anyway, but at least you can do it). Plastic mayo jars... well, it's hard to every get them really clean. I certainly wouldn't store other edible fluids in them (the washing process tends to scratch the inside of the jar and everyone knows (don't they?) about how plastics degrade when you scrub them... yuck.) The plastic (even after scrubbing) always seems to retain the smell of the mayo... the glass ones never did that.

So I called them to let them know what I think of their plastic packaging... the first thing they said was that they hadn't used glass in 2 years (and I don't think she meant it to sound as flippant as she sounded). I told her that I had only recently become aware of the "eastern garbage patch" and that I didn't want to contribute to that anymore with their mayo jars. She became a lot more polite after that, wrote down my comment and said that she would forward it to the marketing dept. We shall see. If you feel like I do, start calling the people who make the products you like and tell them what you want: the won't know any other way (focus groups are stupid and they know that when people actually volunteer their comments without any pay, that they're getting real data). They need to hear from a LOT of people in order to make changes. I implore you, dear reader, to ask for reduced packaging and packaging that allows for true re-use: if I haven't HAMMERED this point enough, read the article about plastic in the ocean, ok?


NobbyNick said...

I'm confused. I always recycle my plastics. I also feel much better shaking my chain around in a plastic bottle of cleaner that I reuse than in a glass bottle just in case I drop it or it falls off the shelf. Is glass really greener if both are recycled?


nollij said...

nobbynick, glass IS greener. As for the safety factor.. well, if you're extremely clumsy or shake the jar too hard, yes, you can break them. Plastic doesn't generally break when you drop it, BUUUUUT it's the MUCH less green option. I have a PLASTIC chain cleaner (spinning brushes el at) because they don't make them from glass or ceramic. It's made by Park Tools. Unfortunately, most of the degreasers come in PLASTIC bottles... even Ernesto Lube (which is admittedly a lube, not a degreaser) which is the "greenest" chain lube I know of (and works very well)comes in a plastic bottle. I usually buy concentrated degreaser for my chains to reduce plastic: if anyone finds a chain degreaser that comes in plastic or metal cans, please let me know as this would be my preference.