Thursday, August 7, 2008

Flakey sources

A few weeks ago, I posted about my corn flake dilemma. Basically, we'd moved my hubby off of conventional corn flakes onto an organic brand. When we first started buying the organic version, it was on sale, when we realized how much the regular price was and how many small boxes of cereal we were going through, we decided to look at other options. Here's what we found out, much of this thanks to many of you voicing your thoughts:
  1. Using the smaller (10.6 oz boxes) meant we were going through a box of cereal every 3 days or so (we are recycling the cereal boxes, but that's a LOT of boxes)
  2. It was WAY cheaper to buy on-line ( .24 cents/oz vs. .45 cents/oz, shipping is free and it can be purchased in bulk 26.4 oz bags)
  3. Ordering it direct from the cereal manufacturer was much more expensive
  4. If we order through Amazon and want to receive corn flakes on a regular basis (every 1, 2, 3, or 6 months), we can sign up and save an additional 15%.
  5. We could have it special ordered from our local natural foods store, but it wouldn't reduce our packaging and it would be more expensive (although admittedly we'd be supporting a local store)
So what we decided to do was order once from Amazon and just see what happened. I ordered on Thursday and it arrived at our door on Tuesday - that's a pretty good turn around, but I'm more concerned about wasteful packaging. As you can see from the photo above, the box of 6 bulk bags of corn flakes came inside another box (I wasn't expecting the extra box, but I can see why they did that) and there was that one little bit of wadded up packing paper in the top (unnecessary, but at least there wasn't much of it). Everything there is recyclable except for the bags that the cereal came in, but thats about a wash since the bags/liner in the boxed cereal wasn't recyclable either and at least now, I'm buying in larger bags so there should be less plastic per oz. 

Now we just have to see how the actual corn flakes are (whether there was too much crumbling due to all the handling). But as far as I can tell, this is a viable option for us. No, it's not perfect, but for now, I think it'll work just fine. 

Thanks again to everyone for all your ideas and suggestions!


Bobbi said...

That's the one bad thing about ordering over the internet - too much packaging and stuffing.

eco 'burban mom said...

I do this from Amazon for organic lemonade. It too arrives in a box inside of another box. I think the manufacturer sends it to Amazon in their box, where Amazon then repackages it in their own box. It would seem to me that Amazon would save more money (and save packaging!) requesting their vendors package in a plain, ready to reship box on which Amazon could simply add their own sticker. We find we do save quite a bit of money on the lemonade and buying in bulk certainly saves me trips to the store, so I am sure it balances out somewhere!!

Green Bean said...

Write Amazon an email. Whenever I order from them, everything arrives massively overpackaged. I got no response to my email but if we all do it every time, we might make a dent.

Also, when ordering request minimum packaging or something in the comments.

Finally, have you checked Whole Foods? Ours sells organic corn flakes in the bulk department. I don't remember how much but it was cheaper than by the box.

Red said...

When we started changing our diet, the first thing that went was cereals. We never ate them a lot, but when you take something form your diet, you then realize just how much you did eat that item.

Now I do not even miss cereal. It was our doctor that got us to get rid of the processed foods in our house along with the sugar ladened ones as well.

Whoa! What a trip this has been. We were not big on processed foods to begin with, so there wasn't much to get rid of, but let me tell you, processed foods are everywhere. Now our next section of the kitchen is bottled dressings. Again, not something we lived on, but man oh man, what a change.

I wish you well in your challenge.

ruchi aka arduous said...

GB makes a good point. Write a letter to Amazon! The more we write to them, the more likely they are to change!!

Heather @ SGF said...

bobbi - Yeah, we would have been fine with just that one manufacturer's box.

eco 'burban mom - I agree that it eventually balances out. That interior box is so "busy" with pictures and text. I'm sure that's why Amazon repackages. A plain box would be much better.

green bean - I'll email Amazon and include a request for no additional packing material in my next order. You're right. If we stay after them, they might just agree to cut down at least for those of us who ask. Can't hurt to try. Unfortunately, we don't have a Whole Foods anywhere near (closest would be about 1-1/2 hours away) :(

red - Thanks, Red for the encouragement. Over the last few years, we've also eliminated most of the processed foods in our house. We make our own salad dressings, pancake mix, syrup, soups, jams and jellies, bread, etc. Right now, just about the only thing we buy processed is that organic cereal. Honestly, I've not been buying it for me, just for my hubby, so I'm been mostly without cereal for almost a year (since I started my local diet experiment last Oct). Oatmeal is ok, homemade granola is ok, but I REALLY miss cereal. I just love it. So it will definitely be something we keep around. I figure if that's the only thing we are eating processed, it's better than 99.9 percent of the population. Who wants to be perfect anyway, right? :)

arduous - you're right. We'll definitely we writing in.

CindyW said...

Nice to see that the Amazon packaging was as bad as when I ordered a set of one-cup pyrex containers. I've been boycotting Amazon. But maybe I will give them another change next time I need something.

eco 'burban mom said...

And, when writing it, make sure to ask them to DEMAND their vendors do the same. A large retailer can make a vendor jump through firey hoops just to keep their business. Believe me, I was a product development manager for a manufacturer who sold to Target, Wal-mart and K-mart back in the day. If they asked us to wear pink tutus, sing a solo and make them homemade chocolate chip cookies we did!! If the work is off Amazon and onto their vendors, they might push the issue harder! If the vendor simple switched to a blank corrugate box, Amazon could simple reship that same box with an added sticker. Talk about saving packaging, saving labor & material costs, and saving time! Everyone wins!!

Heather @ SGF said...

cindyw - there's definitely room for improvement, but the didn't do too bad this time around. It helps, I think that the manufacturer already had it boxed in bulk.

eco 'burban mom - pink tutus, singing a solo, while baking cookies...I've love to see photos of that day at work :) he he

greeen sheeep said...

There are not a lot of eco offerings where I live, so I order a lot from Amazon. I use their Subscribe & Save program to save 15%, get free shipping, and it automatically arrives at my door every 1, 3, or 6 months (depending on how fast we use it). Fewer trips to the store. We get everything from shampoo (Dr. Bronner's), toothpaste (Tom's of Maine), toilet paper (Green Forest) and laundry soap (7th Gen) to organic food. The packaging usually isn't too bad, except for that annoying box in a box thing. I just use them as sheet mulch for spots of lawn I am preparing for planting next year.

Heather @ SGF said...

greeen sheeep - great use for those extra boxes. Are you in a rural area? Is that why it's hard to get stuff in? BTW, I love your icon and header on your blog. Super cute!

greeen sheeep said...

I guess you could say I live in a rural area. I am just outside a village of 4,800. Which is 12 miles from a city of 50,000. The grocery stores in the city are just beginning to carry organic food, but there still isn't a huge selection. We do have a food coop that I like, but I would go broke shopping there. The big box stores (Target, Shopko, Walmart) have a FEW items if you really hunt. Mostly cleaning products, but I prefer to use vinegar and baking soda. I do write to them whenever I spot a green product in there store, commended them for their efforts and asking for more. There is a SMALL farmer's market in the village that I bike to and the city has four wonderful markets. That I am thankful for.

I guess that's another reason why I am considered the greeen sheeep. In an area surrounded by farms that rely on heavy doses of chemicals for their crops along with hormones and antibiotics for their livestock being green isn't on everyone's to do list.

Heather @ SGF said...

greeen sheeep - way to stand out in your community and encourage more organics! It can be rough sometimes being the odd one out, but sounds like you're finding your way!