Paper or plastic?

WasteViolet Gross

Let’s talk about box baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. Let’s talk about box-----es.

The rise of e-commerce has so many benefits. Running low on shampoo? Put some in your digital Target cart while it’s top of mind. Weather looks nice next weekend? Find the perfect picnic blanket on Amazon. How are everyones brows so good on Insta? Oh, Boy Brow. Ordering immediately. And best of all, lounge in your coziest jammies and order that gorgeous gown to wear during gala season.

Before you know it your front door is blocked by a pile of brown cardboard boxes. And it makes some sense, you ordered from four different retailers. It gets especially annoying when you place one order with Amazon and two days later three boxes arrive making you wonder why everything wasn’t just packed into one.

Consumers continue to shift their spend to online, the proof is in the pudding — online retail grew 16% in 2017, while retail in general rose only 3.8%. After all, who doesn’t love time saving convenience? But how many people stop to think about the environmental impact of that change?

Roughly 165 billion packages are shipped annually, amounting to approximately 1 billion trees cut down each year. Yes, Axe, billion. Amazon recently realized they had a shipping problem, but not for the reasons you may think. They decided that if they came up with a smaller package option, they would be able to fit more parcels on a truck, thus reducing the amount of air they transport. So no, it pains us to tell you that Amazon’s changes weren’t made thanks to the 30 million photos they’ve received from customers showing a tube of toothpaste being shipped in a box meant for a toaster oven. Over the last year Amazon has started shipping its smaller items in plastic mailers. So yes, while they may be better size suited than the boxes, we circle back to the plastic problem.

These new plastic mailers are not recyclable in your normal recycling container. They need to be separated just like plastic bags. This type of plastic is not sortable in most recycling systems, and when a bag or mailer does get caught up in the machinery, it gums it up, requiring the whole system to shut down to cut it out. Not efficient.

We can credit Amazon for reducing its carbon footprint since they can ship more within one truck or plane. We are also thrilled with their $10 million donation to the Closed Loop Fund. But they need to continue to improve their methods of consolidating shipments, and making it easier for consumers to do so.

Meanwhile, since you are still receiving shipments form Amazon and Moda, please continue to keep your future rentals in mind and reuse these boxes. The majority are still in perfect condition and should live more than one life.

Let’s talk about box baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about how easy it is for you to send your rental to me in a box you’ve already received, then let’s talk about all the good feelings that may bring.

Brand Focus: Summersalt

Companies Doing GoodViolet Gross
summersalt swimsuit.jpeg

When did swimwear get SO expensive?!?  

It's finally summer and we like to switch up our swimwear as frequently as we switch our lipstick, but not when a foot of lycra costs upwards of $300 a pop.  And we certainly don't want to sacrifice quality for quantity - can you imagine a tear in the wrong place??  Enter Summersalt - designer quality swim suits for $95. 

Our curious minds (more like suspicious nowadays) wondered what the catch was, and our responsible selves asked the question "How can they produce such a high quality suit at such a low price?"  Here's what we found...

Thanks to the new generation of direct-to-consumer economies (paved by brands like Warby Parker & Glossier) upstarts like Summersalt can cut out the middlemen (i.e. that lengthy supply chain and the massive advertising budget needed to support it).  All those savings are passed on directly to the consumer.  Founder Lori Coulter, a veteran in the swimwear business with 10+ years of R&D experience created a fully digital and automated supply chain by integrating 3D body scanning and computer aided design.  Oh, and did we mention each design is tested on olympic swimmers and offers UPF 50+ protection?  Impressive, we agree.  But they still one-up that: every suit is made from recycled fibers, shipped in a reusable bag and marketing collateral is printed on 100% recycled paper. 

But DTC brands rarely have a store front so fit is naturally a concern. Co-founder Reshma Chamberlin understands how crucial this step is to finding the perfect suit so Summersalt uses a patented technology which gathers millions of data points to simplify size and fit issues.  Plus, the 4 layers of built-in compression basically makes it the Spanx of bathing suits.  We'll miss trying on bikinis under those department store fluorescent lights - said no one ever.

A Glamour article quoted Coulter about the general aesthetic of Summersalt and we say AMEN to her adventure-ready ethos: "We wanted to avoid over-sexualized, uncomfortable swimsuits. We took a fresh, athleisure approach to how swimwear should fit, and we ended up with a very sleep, sophisticated look that's fun and adventure ready.  Each suit is beautiful and comfortable, and there's a wide range so every woman can find her perfect fit."

One last nugget worth pointing out...that savvy supply chain we mentioned earlier allows Summersalt to release new designs as quickly as all the fast fashion retailers release new duds, almost weekly.  No, we're not contradicting ourselves and supporting fast fashion ideals. This innovative brand figured out how to cut costs ethically and use recycled materials all while keeping pace with consumer demand.  Far different than fast fashion.  Gold star Summersalt, gold star!