Friday, November 8, 2013

Boycott for its wasteful packaging shipped six 100-bag boxes of Newman's Own Organic Black Tea in two cartons, above. The smaller carton contained only one of the boxes of tea, below, cushioned by about 5 feet of "inflatable" plastic packaging.


As if the $4.99 shipping charge wasn't bad enough, an online retailer used two large cardboard cartons and a dozen or more feet of "inflatable" plastic packaging to send me six boxes of organic black tea.

On the bottom of one of the cartons, urged me to read about the company's "commitment to the planet."

Which planet? Saturn?

I've been a fan of mail order for decades to buy clothing from Lands' End and other retailers -- almost always with free shipping -- but in recent years, I have been going online to purchase food I can't find in stores.

I first found Newman's Own Royal Tea, an organic black tea, at the ShopRite in Englewood. 

But when the store discontinued the item, I went online and found it at, where I purchased six 100-bag boxes under the retailer's Subscribe & Save program.

The last order cost me $2.96 a box with free shipping.

I don't have a cat, don't do arts and crafts, and have no plans to move.

But now has discontinued the Newman's Own organic black tea. 

In an Internet search, I found and ordered six boxes of individually wrapped tea bags, but couldn't get free shipping.

Each box was $4.42, including the shipping charge.

The shipping charge and the wasteful packaging are enough for me to make my first purchase from my last.

The bottom of the carton.


  1. Free shipping would probably boost business and give the incentive to conserve cardboard and packing materials. As it is, charging me $4.99 was the incentive to use two cardboard boxes and inflatable packaging material, when one box would have sufficed.

    An anonymous comment said I should just recycle the boxes, and no one forced me to buy from that company. But that misses the point completely.

  2. I am the former founder and CEO of Vitacost and this makes me ill to see this. I promise you my new company does not do this and our prices are superior plus free shipping on all orders. New manufacturing/HQ/Customer Service in USA.

    Kindest regards,
    Wayne Gorsek
    Founder & CEO

  3. I've noticed the downhill trend in wasteful shipping from Vitacost because I usually order from them once a month. They're one of few online retailers where I can get several grocery items and also vitamins that are not easy for me to get any other way due to very limited transportation options. Their prices are also cheaper on pretty much everything I buy, and I often qualify for free shipping on top of that.

    So, I can't boycott them because I would basically be cutting off the supply of things I need, or be paying notably more from other sites. But I do think the packaging thing is seriously bizarre, and I almost wonder if shipping companies are bribing employees to put a just few small items in each box and fill the rest with crumpled-up brown paper, which is the current packing trend arriving in my boxes lately.

    Not every box is the same, either. Some have these cardboard dividers in them that break the space up into 9 slots and support the box strength in the process. Those are usually well-filled, with bottles of vitamins tossed into the same slots that already hold a box of flour. That was one out of three boxes in my most recent order.

    The other two boxes? Ho boy. Eight bags of puffed rice cereal, split six in one huge box that would have held all eight and then some with no problem, and two in one medium box. The product itself was sealed inside large ziplock-style bags (quality bags too, whoever is manufacturing them must be loving this); some of them were in individual bags, some were double bagged. The bags are 100% unnecessary, because the cereal bags hold up fine. The cereal bags are also very light, as the cereal can be described as oversized Rice Crispies with way less crunch and flavor. Air, basically. Healthfoody air.

    The icing on the cake? Each of those three boxes was packed by a different person. The paper printout receipts in each box clearly state the name of the employee who packed that box. I'm actually thinking I should call Vitacost's customer support line about this issue, but I just made another order so I am going to see if I can gather more evidence of fishy packing practices before I call.

  4. Hmm I realized "double-bagged" reads funny. I meant two to a bag. But yeah, the bags are definitely unnecessary to begin with.

    1. Thanks for the detailed report.

      Doesn't sound like is doing any better on packaging products efficiently than in late 2013, when I wrote this post.

      I have been ordering from, which usually follows up with an email asking for feedback on packaging.

      And has resumed selling Paul Newman's Organic Black Tea.

      Still, doesn't always pack stuff efficiently, though I haven't seen anything as wasteful as my first and last shipment from Vitacost.

      Maybe, recycled cardboard is so cheap these days there is no incentive to use the right-sized box.


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