Small things come in big packages. Why?

By Robin Melen on March 1, 2013 12:01:00 am

SSBLOG_big-box-#2I do a lot of purchasing for ShopSmart—many of the photos you see in our pages are of products I buy from small online boutiques and big online retailers, supermarkets, department stores, Target, Walmart—you name it, I’ve probably shopped there.

For the May issue, which we’re putting together now, we’re doing a story on makeup brushes. We’ve asked experts to tell us which brushes they love and why, plus which ones we can buy cheap and which ones we should splurge on. So I’ve been busy buying all different kinds of makeup brushes from different sites. On Monday, I ordered a single Maybelline eye makeup brush from Walmart, and asked for rush shipping.

Two days later, I got a large box from Walmart, big enough for two pairs of shoes. Guess what was inside? One tiny eye makeup brush! In a giant box! Stuffed with tons of brown paper! I was outraged, as were colleagues. What a waste! Walmart certainly could’ve sent the brush in a small padded envelope, cutting my shipping costs and saving some hassle.

I sent an e-mail through the website immediately. My mesage was simple: What’s up with the huge box for a tiny eye makeup brush? Walmart responded with what seemed like an automated, if slightly personalized, automated reply the next day: “We strongly apologize the brush did not arrive packaged in the right manner.” What? And the remedy? Walmart took the $1.31 for rush shipping off my bill. What?

That was not the point! I didn’t want my money back. I want my planet back! The point was to say, Hey! Use some common sense! Don’t be so wasteful! Let’s go green! Amazon started trying to reduce its packaging a few years ago, and others have followed. We like Walmart and shop there often, but it makes a person think! While I appreciate the effort by Walmart to make good on the issue, time to step back and see the whole problem!

Have you encountered excessive packaging? Have you complained? Send us your photos!

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Robin Melen

Robin Melen

Posted at 12:01:00 AM in
Customer service | Featured | Green products | Home & Yard | Mobile Shopping | Money & Shopping | Online Shopping | Recycling | Robin Melen | Shopping

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Just B

07:05:36 AM on Fri Mar 1 2013

This may be cured soon since Amazon is now allowing you to give them special "packaging feedback". It feels good and it will make a difference, probably soon!


07:10:36 PM on Fri Mar 1 2013

I SO understand. A few months ago I received my quarterly shipment of toilet paper from Please keep in mind that this is TOILET PAPER, Soft, self padded, non-breakable. It comes in a cardboard box from the manufacturer that exactly fits the size of the 3 6-roll packages. This shipment shows up, a bit larger than I remembered my last shipment, so I really wasn't sure what was in it I opened it, inside the cardboard box, wrapped in about 20 feet of bubble wrap, was another cardboard box; my toilet paper box! Amazon bubble wrapped by toilet paper!!! About three days later I get an email from Amazon requesting I "rate the packaging" - I did, but never got a response...


11:13:51 AM on Sat Mar 23 2013

I have to agree with you that most of the companies that ship out their orders use larger boxes then necessary and use an over-abundance of either brown paper or bubble wrap to fill in the empty space. Then there are those that use a larger box then necessary, and don't include anything to take up the empty space. Amazon and WalMart have done this both ways on orders I have placed with them.

I also have a gripe on how the food markets bag items, and sometimes I insist upon doing it myself, because I can save them half of the plastic bags they use or maybe even more.

I would love to tell all businesses in the mail order field to train their workers on the proper way to package items for mailing, as it is rare that a package is put in the right size box, packed correctly inside of it, etc.

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