18 March, 2008

The Joys of Home

How much more Chinese can you get?

Reading Hong Lou Meng, listening to guzheng music (from SE, many thanks), sitting at the gongfucha table, while your laowai [foreigner] husband brews you pu'er...

It's great to be back.

I wrote recently about the wastage that I noticed in a trip to the USA, and was reminded of it when receiving a parcel from a London shop. Just to show that England has more than its fair share of waste, allow me to illustrate...

(It's from Penhaligon's, for those so inclined.)

Step 0: Payment

This shop offers one delivery option, which is for a courier to be instantly dispatched with your order. No postage, no alternative: a man will turn up with your order within an afternoon. This is absurd.

Step 1: Courier Bag

Step 2: Cardboard Box

Steps 3 and 4: Eggshell Padding and Tissue Wrapping

Step 5: Fancy Blue Box
MarshalN: seen that before anywhere?

Step 6: Wooden Bowl
Getting close...

Step 7: And Finally...
All that for a soap...

The soap with the original container, for scale...

That's baffling. At least it wasn't wrapped in baby seal.

(In Penhaligon's defence, both product and delivery were entirely at their expense. After an original bowl had a slight scratch in its tiny lid, which I mentioned to them hoping for a replacement lid, they immediately couriered out an entirely new product. Good customer service... but immense profligacy.*)

*I really should use that word more often.


Brent said...

That is, sadly, not surprising. The amount of overkill on packaging materials is indeed baffling, often times. Think how much better it would be if only companies would hire Tetris players in their shipping departments!

Surprisingly, China seems to be pretty good at this (packaging, not Tetris). When I order tea(ware) from China from Dragon Tea House, Jing Tea Shop, YSLLC, etc., packaging is usually pretty reasonable.

Anyway, nice to hear you're settled in back home.


Hobbes said...

Dear Brent,

I love Scott's packaging at Yunnan Sourcing: just like Tetris! I once complimented him on it, to which replied, "I just take loads of bubble-wrap, put some music on in the storeroom, and go crazy." :)



Jamus said...

I think there's really something there with this baby seal thing...you ever think about taking on a mascot?

Hobbes said...

Dear Jamus,

There was an amazingly unusual advertisement on US television when I was there, essentially saying how much energy the US gets from coal (> 50%).

I thought this was a completely wacky idea for an advertisement, especially seeing as how coal is the "dirty alternative" to gas.

The advertisement contained lots of REALLY cheesy music, with pictures of "American life" overlaid on top, such as showing a child leaning over a benignly smiling grandparent in a hospital bed (with lots of electronic patient monitoring equipment in the background, powered by electricity). Truly, amazingly cheesy.

This strange multi-hourly advertisement culminated in showing a piece of coal with an electric socket plugged into it.

I think we could replace the lump of coal with a baby seal. It might catch on as a symbol of the new brutally resource-intensive approach to energy conservation (or lack thereof!)...



Anonymous said...

Good soap choice! but as a conservation student, I find this increase in worldwide packaging a crushing and awful waste of mans gift of nature.

Hobbes said...

Dear R-James,

I'm just "your average Joe" and find the wastage disturbing - I can only imagine what a conversation student would feel.



Jamus said...


I'm basing what I'm about to share with you on two things: the first may have been due to the fact that I had to work through the night last night. 10pm-8am is not my normal shift. Fortunately, I brought some good teas and a means of boiling water at my desk. I am pretty sure blame can also be laid to the fact that I was partially inebriated off of Pu-erh. After reading your comment about a coal-powered America, I had an image floating through my head all night. I'm no master with Photoshop, but on short notice, this is the closest I could bring it.


Hobbes said...


Steven Dodd said...

Hobbes: I like the packages I've gotten from China, but I abhor the conditions of the box when it gets to my door. I'm not sure how many soccer games it has been through on the way here.

Hobbes said...

Dear Doddy,

Maybe ping-pong, played by giant Chinese postal workers?

Have you flown United Airlines lately?!