Monday, September 8, 2008

Weekend Notes -- Petro Ice and Cracked CFLs

This weekend we were moving into a new home and two things really struck me.

First -- I went to go buy ice at the CVS drugstore, and the only ice choice was the Sparkletts brand. Once I got back home to the cooler and open the bag of ice I realized there was not just one bag but four bags: the main bag and then three other bags which split the ice into three "servings." A minute later I had all the ice dumped into my cooler and four petro-plastic bags. So much plastic for so little use! I've logged a complaint with the company by going to their website and sending an e-mail to customer service -- explaining my complaint, asking them to use less plastic, and encouraging them to look into bio-plastic options such as corn-based plastic.

9/12/08 UPDATE: Got a semi-custom e-mail back from the company's web support person -- "We are sorry to hear you are unhappy with the packaging of our ice products, your concerns will definitely be taken into consideration and will be forwarded to to appropiate department. " We'll see if it goes further.

Second -- I also went to Lowe's to buy more energy-efficient light bulbs for the new home. Even with as much as I know about lighting, it never ceases to amaze me how long it can take to go through the possible lighting options. And there is usually not a full line of anything but traditional incandescent -- so frustrating. Anyway, the big beef I had with this big-box retailer this weekend is that several of the CFLs were broken in the energy-efficient section. I brought to the attention of no less than 3 associates who a) didn't know it was a hazard (a broken CFL leaks a small amount of mercury into the air and is considered hazardous waste by the EPA) and b) didn't take me seriously when I asked that they carefully go through the shelves and clean up the broken CFLs. So, another e-mail went out to Lowe's later today asking them to pay more attention to the situation.

9/12/08 UPDATE: Lowe's was very efficient in getting back to me. First I got a personalized e-mail asking for my address to verify I was an actual person sending the complaint. Then I got another e-mail with a thank you for the address and that someone would be contacting me. Within 48 hours the store manager from my local Lowe's called me directly to profusely apologize and to better understand my concerns. He said he would rework that store's attention to the lighting section and have ongoing inspections. He also said he would send out a special response team to thoroughly go through the entire inventory to make sure no CFL was sitting on the shelf broken. Additionally, he said he would read up on the EPA's website guidelines for safe CFL cleanup. See! One person can make a difference.

9/14/08 UPDATE: I was in Lowe's this morning. They've done a complete clean up of the CFL section -- it even looked like every bulb section was cleaned up too. LOTS of bulbs were gone -- I bet you more than just the 3-5 I noticed were broken (hmmm ... mercury in the air anyone?). So, the good news is they took me very seriously and, I'm sure, will keep a close watch on that aisle in the future. This may even have a national effect, as stores share problems/solutions with other stores in their regular managerial meetings.

Good Note -- For a positive comment, I thought it was great when we went to IKEA that they have fully inacted their charge-per-bag program at checkout. You either pay a few cents for a plastic bag or you use a reusable bag. You can also carry out your items sans bag, which is what we did. Wonderfully bagless!

All it takes are a few moms who take note of an issue and bring it to a company's attention in order to get noticed.

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