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The Most Wasteful Companies In Terms Of Packaging And Paperwork

too-much-paperwork-by-This-Years-Love.jpg Most of my New Year’s Resolutions were “green” this year… not on purpose. I guess that’s just the way my life is heading. (It’s about time, right?)

So, you might say that I’ve started to become more aware of all the non-Earth friendly things that people do — both on an individual and business level.

Most recently, I’ve noticed a handful of companies that should make it a priority to lessen the amount of packaging and paperwork they use in their day-to-day business.

Here are my top picks — companies that are incredibly wasteful. What are yours?

The companies mentioned below are simply the few that happen to be on my mind right now after having dealt with them in person recently.


#1 Wasteful Business Industry: Banks

It’s hard to believe all of the forms that must be filled out and signed when applying for a loan. The worst part: they trickle your way one-at-a-time. (Or maybe that’s the best part, because you wouldn’t take the time to complete them if they were all given to you at once!)

stack-of-paperwork-by-stephthegeek.jpgInstead, it’s a series of: "Here, sign this one now." Then, a few days later: "Oh, I need you to sign this one too." And while you’re at it, you may as well get this one out of the way… if you get the loan, we’ll need this information.

Having just been through this a half dozen times with various banks (with which we actually "qualified" and went through all their series of hoops in order to meet their contingencies and stipulations for the loan), I can tell you the banking industry is one of the most wasteful when it comes to paper.

piles-of-paper-by-reway2007.jpg Not to mention the bulk of paperwork they require that you copy and fax to them — like your tax forms, copied checks, pay stubs, bank transfers, blah blah blah. The loan officers weren’t happy with the fact that we do most of our banking online, and therefore we have few paper trails. Instead, we have digital trails.

And for the paperwork we actually sent to all these banks… I can only hope they believe as much in shredding as they do in xeroxing. A lot of people (loan officers) now have our SSN’s, bank account numbers, and life history in their possession!


#2 Wasteful Business Industry: Shoes

shoe-packaging-by-Lorika13.jpg Even the cashier at the shoe store asked if I minded that she throw away all the packaging that came with my new pair of shoes! 

She said that she longed for the day that the shoe industry stopped using so much packaging.

Then, I started thinking:

    • Tissue paper lightly surrounding the shoes

    • Mounds of tissue paper stuffed into the toes of shoes (and/or a new perfectly shaped mold for the toe area made from egg-carton material)

    • Sticks pushing the shoe’s heel and the shoe’s toe far apart (some sort of primitive shoe-stretching mechanism?)

    • Not to mention the cardboard boxes that all shoes come in


#3 Wasteful Business Industry: Doctors

happy-doctor-with-clipboard-by-Lisa-Brewster.jpg Even when you’re a regular patient, some doctors make you fill out a whole new "life history" form and/or an updated "yes, I still have insurance" form.

Then there are all the piles of paper that you have to take to your seat to complete (while using a clipboard) when you’re a new patient visiting a doctor for the first time. I don’t even give complete info half the time — it’s a waste of my time, and I know they don’t look at it anyway, because they ask me the same questions in the actual visit & take notes from there.

And why is it all the forms used in doctors’ offices look like they were created in 1975 and they’ve been copied so many times they’re barely legible anymore? (That, and they’re all crooked on the page.)




I can’t help but wonder when these wasteful industries that are stuck in the year of the Xerox machine will enter the 21st century and find better… faster… more efficient ways of documenting things.

The question is: do they have any motivation to do so? I’m thinking probably not.

UPDATE 1/13/09: Check it out! Newton Running reinvents the shoe box. Way cool…