In an unprecedented move, the Globe Guard Eco Consistency Award judges held a first ever midyear caucus and by unanimous vote decided to give Home Depot this prestigious award. OK, that all sounds quite impressive but the fact is that my wife took me shopping for the seasonal purchase of flowers for her garden and I spotted this sign.
That is when I realized Home Depot has launched an excellent, green program to encourage and facilitate the return of the empty flower containers they now sell.
Polystyrene – The Plastic Even Waste Management Doesn’t Want
What makes this move by Home Depot award worthy is that most flower pot containers are made of polystyrene (Recycled code #6). Most of us know polystyrene as the foam looking plastic material often used for takeout or left over containers, some “foam” drinking cups and some loose fill packaging materials shaped like shells or peanuts. That happens to be reason #42 why I hate foam peanuts, but that is a sore subject and a different blog post.
I am not sure why most floral containers are made of styrene but I am willing to bet it is about cost. Polystyrene can easily be blended with just about any plastic or near plastic trash and is able to be formed into the trays and pots we all take home, empty and discard. What I am certain of is that in our suburban Chicago curbside recycling service provided by Waste Management, is very clear to point out they will NOT take back anything with a #6 recycled code which includes any form or type of polystyrene.
Taking Responsibility for Sustainable Packaging
I also appreciate this effort by Home Depot because it demonstrates leadership in a retail market in desperate need of it. For decades retail stores have freely sold whatever they care to with absolutely no regard for the environmental consequences. Certainly manufacturers of products should share in the blame as well but the critical link in the outbound as well as inbound distribution process is the retail store where make our purchases. They are in the best possible position to be part of the solution and participate in the collection of packaging materials as well as of the profits.
What is a retail giant like Best Buy suddenly agreed to take back all of the cushioning materials of the home electronics they sold? What if a premier seller of housewares such as Crate and Barrel decided they would follow suit? Wouldn’t it be great if Toys R Us also decided to serve as a collection point for the excessive packaging of the toys they sell? Some of these ideas may not be realistic or economically feasible but Home Depot is at least making an effort.
Sustainable Packaging Credit and Blame
Regular readers of ISP know we feel very strongly about our responsibility to hand out kudos as well as to point out deficiencies in the green efforts of companies It is also important to point out the collection cart we photographed was not buried in some distant corner of the store. It was in front, next to the main entrance to their garden center. It was proudly displayed as it should be. Congratulations Home Depot, and thank you for making the world greener in more than one way.
Visit the Globe Guard Eco Friendly Packaging Store for –