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It's Complicated




Happy Earth Day! Winter has returned to Western Pennsylvania for the next few days. It is currently snowing, and the winds are blustering about. Today, our behaviors and the impact they have on our planet are put into the spotlight. Some dismiss climate change and the impact we as humans have on the environment. Some are polar opposite and believe we are destroying our world one glass of milk at a time, one shower at a time, one trip to the grocery store at a time. I believe many of us fall somewhere in the middle of those ideas.


Some things just seem like common sense. Less garbage is better. Less plastic makes more sense. Simplified packaging on products would be better. Materials that will actually break down when discarded are a win. Not dumping garbage in the ocean or burying large amounts in landfills seems like an excellent idea. Suppose we recycle everything we can instead of just dumping it? That seems reasonable. Buying local food that is sustainably raised is better for everyone. Not using harsh chemicals and pesticides is common sense. My list could go on and on. However, I also don't believe we should do away with farms, cows, or animals because of the emissions from their waste. Let us do away with large industrial farm practices for a lot of reasons. Whoever created that blueprint is lacking at so many levels. However, I digress.


The fact of the matter is this, simple is better for everyone and everything. The sheer volume of garbage created by consumerism alone is just one factor in a vast, complicated equation. We, as humans, complicate everything unnecessarily. Let us take toy packaging, for example. A simple Barbie doll bought at a big box store creates half a small garbage bag of waste alone. First, there is the outer box itself which is made of cardboard and plastic. Next, there is the inner packaging. Because Barbie has to have a colorful, appealing background idealizing her perfect Barbie universe, there is another layer of cardboard and plastic. She is also locked into place with at least six zip ties or rubber bands because she must be posed perfectly. Lastly, her hair, dress, and accessories must be positioned and wrapped in plastic to keep them pristine. Also, let us not forget the tape. There is so much tape!


If one takes time to consider it, almost everything but the outer box could be eliminated. The boxes could be smaller, the packaging simplified. Most children create their version of Barbie's universe in their imaginations. Imagination can take a toy a long way. However, the web of chemicals and waste produced for sheer consumerism is mind-blowing if one is to think about it in detail from different perspectives. We complicate things. I am sure there is a reasoning and rationale behind it. I am certain at some point, some ninny complained about Barbie's dress being wrinkled or her hair having fly-aways. Then there is the fact that Barbie is shipped halfway around the world to reach the local Wal-Mart. You see, dear reader, as humans, we simply complicate what could be, should be, simple scenarios.


Let us examine my soap packaging as the next example. Would I love to sell "naked soap?" The answer is yes. However, because of FDA regulations, I am required by law to have all ingredients of my products listed to be used by weight or volume. Now, this has to happen for several reasons. First, there are those with allergies who must be careful of what they use on their bodies. Secondly, this holds me accountable as to what I am putting in my products. Lastly, it is a way of regulating the products. Again, I am sure there was a scenario somewhere at some time that brought this regulation into being. If we are honest, we know, not everyone is upfront and trustworthy. Some egregious, greed-driven individuals made false claims, and some innocent individuals paid the consequence. Rules are in place for a reason. However, as with my products, I try to keep the packaging as simple as possible. Not only do I try to simplify the packaging and create less waste, but I also try to be socially responsible and use a small USA business for my boxes.


As for shipping, again, I try to keep it as simple as possible. However, with experience comes reality. I would like not to use bubble wrap when I ship. However, a package going to Colorado was returned to me because the customer did not use the correct shipping address. Side note, you would be surprised how often this happens. What one considers their physical address and what the USPS considers their physical address doesn't always coincide. I cannot tell you how relieved I was that this package did not reach my customer. When the box was returned to me, it looked like a team of Neanderthals had played football with it. The shipping box was smashed, torn, and dirty. The inner products were in terrible shape. I was not using bubble wrap at the time for waste management. However, the moisturizer was broken and smeared on everything. The soap boxes were torn and open, and the soap was scuffed. It was shocking and upsetting. Because of this incident, we now wrap the soaps, use bubble wrap, place all moisturizers in individual plastic bags, and make sure there is no wiggle room for the products. As humans, we have complicated what should be a straightforward process..sigh.


We can all work to keep it simple. The most minor consistent changes can make a significant impact. We can all do little things like turn off the lights, televisions, and appliances when we aren't using them. We can recycle, go for products with more simplified packaging, try to buy locally when we can, be more aware of the products we use, and try not to waste water. If we think about the little daily things, we can help to clean up the earth. As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, simplify, and keep washing your hands.

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