I love all the suggestions and discussions about sustainability and ways to reduce our footprint. I just received my package from REI. In the package was one piece of clothing wrapped in plastic, one small item in a box in another box, and a whole wad of paper. REI has no control over how the items themselves are packaged as they were non-REI-branded items. But is all that extra packing paper needed? It kept the items in the outer box from moving, but is that really necessary? Not much of what REI sells, as far as I can tell, is breakable unless its smashed. All that packing paper means trees cut down and water used and polluted in the paper making process. What do other members think? Do you care if items shift around in your packages arriving from REI (or anywhere else for that matter)?
Always seems to be either too much or not enough, doesn't it? I recently moved, and need to get new furniture. The old stuff was, well, old, and pretty worn out. I sold it, and I'm getting new stuff. About a quarter of it was poorly packaged enough that it was damaged enough I couldn't use it, and had to return it. The companies involved have been very good about it, either shipping replacement parts or replacing the item, but at what a huge waste! Tossed half a desk into a recycle bin, for example. All that just to say, I guess, that I sympathize with the problem, but don't really know what to do about it.
I think @Hikes_in_Rain is on the right track: excessive packing is indeed extra waste, but it has to be compared to the waste generated by having stuff break (or even if not broken, I could easily see customers reject an item just because of something like a tiny barely noticeable snag in clothing, a scuff in the paint, or a crease in a paperback book, because they expect it in "new" condition regardless of functionality, so much of what I see at REI Garage Sales is stuff like this) and either that being trashed/recycled or the extra vehicle emissions to ship it back. Or the cost of having to maintain an even greater variety of box sizes to perfectly fit every possible combination of goods. And on and on and on...
Basically seems like it's a balancing act, and the lesser of many more than two evils. I guess I've just resigned myself to hoping that smarter minds than I in logistics know their stuff and that maximizing economic efficiency also aligns with ecologic efficiency, at least roughly.