Choosing your packing materials

21Aug08

At most supermarkets, you can choose which type of bag you want: paper, plastic, or both. You can even bring your own bag if you’re so inclined. But these choices are entirely absent from online shopping, and the packing materials tend to be pretty random as well.

For example, my most recent Amazon order came in two boxes. The first was filled with brown paper, while the second contained those inflatable air pouches. I don’t know which of these is more environmentally friendly, but I’m sure somebody has thought it through. Assuming the costs aren’t much different, it would be great if Amazon let you select your preferred packing materials when you place an order.

With all the options and customizations available to consumers today, I’m surprised that online stores don’t let you choose your packaging method. You can already get things gift wrapped on a per-item basis, so I’m guessing the infrastructure is there to support individualized packing preferences. Maybe the benefits to consumers are dubious, aside from the obvious benefit of choosing the most environmentally friendly packaging. But I’m curious how customers would respond if someone like Amazon started letting you choose how your orders are packed.



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