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What a Waste! 10 Times Stores Sent Ridiculous Packaging

Whether it's a tiny item in a big box or an insane amount of Bubble Wrap, retailers sometimes go way overboard with packaging. And the environment impact is real.

If you do as much online shopping as we do, you've probably run into over-packaging before. You ordered something small and light, and it arrived at your house in a box large enough to store your entire wardrobe, with the Bubble Wrap to match. Or you ordered 10 things, that all came in 10 boxes.

Overused packaging isn't just frustrating, it's creating a big problem. Packaging materials make up more than 40% of the solid waste stream in the United States, according to Packaging Digest (a trade publication for packaging producers, ironically). Most of that ends up in a landfill.

We all know the drill: Reduce, reuse, recycle. But why aren't our favorite online retailers on board? We found 10 crazy examples of ridiculous packaging that prove it's time for those retailers to rethink how products are shipped.

The Nesting SD Card

It started out in life as an SD card. Then it got shoved into a plastic protective case. Then the plastic protective case got its own plastic clamshell cover. And then it finally arrived to the consumer in a massive box complete with a seemingly endless roll of wrapping paper. Maybe nesting SD cards are the new collectors' item?

Maybe Amazon Thought It Was a Real Car?

Our second example appears to be a small toy car set made for children. These sets are typically lightweight and come in very small boxes (because we all know parents live to assemble), but the toy was shipped in a box large enough to fit a small car.

OK, maybe that's an exaggeration, but the box and packing materials are way more than needed.

Or Maybe It's Nesting Boxes?

In our next example, we can place the blame squarely on the retailer. This Flickr user ordered a new smartphone (you know, those fancy, streamlined, thin-as-a-piece-of-paper things you can fit in your pocket?). The phone was packaged neatly in a tiny box, which was put into a slightly larger box, which was then put into a huge box.

The SD Cards Are Back

Maybe the real lesson here is to never order an SD card online unless you need a huge box for moving. Here's another example of a small, lightweight SD card being shipped in a box big enough to cover almost an entire desk.

How Many Air Bags Does It Take to Keep a Ruler Safe?

We count 20. A customer ordered a single ruler off of Amazon. The ruler does fit lengthwise in the bottom of the box, and technically the 20 pieces of protective packaging fit too. We're just not sure they were needed.

Don't Play With Knives, Kids

Knives should probably be packaged pretty securely, even if they're plastic, but this might be over the top. Each paring knife was wrapped in protective cardboard and placed in its own box. Then the three boxes were placed in another even larger box and wrapped with air cushions. Possibly overkill?

Sometimes It Isn't the Size of the Box

One of our biggest gripes? Not just getting too large a box, but getting too many. Case in point: This plastic container of maple syrup was shipped separately from the rest of the order. With plenty of space in that huge box, it looks like the items could have been shipped together.

Organizing Your Organizers

Maybe Sears knew this customer was pro-organization? The person did buy socket organizers, after all. Perhaps the company was just trying to show off its skills to a fellow enthusiast by packing each organizer neatly in its own box?

A Tranquil Sea of Bubbles

We're not sure what is going on here. The item is clearly unprotected on one side, but oh-so-protected on the other. In fact, there is so much inflatable packaging perfectly in place, it is almost peaceful to look at. If only all that plastic wasn't going to waste.

Padding for Your Padding

How do you ship padded envelopes? With even more padding, of course. This customer ordered a set of padded mailers, which were placed in a box, wrapped with inflatable packaging, and then placed in another box. If only a padded envelope had a way of protecting itself.

Readers, what examples of ridiculous packaging do you have to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Contributing Writer

Angela Colley has covered everything from money saving technology to how the Mayans might affect your savings. She’s appeared on publications like MainStreet and MSN Money. You can follow her on Twitter @angelancolley.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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Most these are ridiculous, but people are right about the maple syrup needing to be separate, also what if it came from a different distribution center?

In regards to the SD Cards the reason they're in a large cardboard clam shell is for theft prevention in store. Makes it difficult to fit in ones pocket. It's easier for these companies to build one product and package one way, not separate for online and brick and mortar retailers.
My cell phone service provider recently sent me a SIM card in a box big enough to send a pair of shoes.
My favorite is the replacement cell phone I got - rattling happily along packed in its plastic bag along with 2 small air pillows. The box was over 1 CF!
The Maple Syrup shipped seperately in case it leaked and got all over the other items shipped -NO FAIR
Like Nimer, I liked way Cowboom (alas, now defunct), cleverly wrapped tablets, etc. to one piece of cardboard which exactly fit diagonally across the box without needing any additional packing material. That said, I have received items from minimalist packers which left the products damaged. Since I am able to recycle all packing materials, I'd rather have them err on the side of providing protection for purchases.
Anthony S Jennings
I once received a new SIM card that was placed in a FedEx envelope (the kind large enough for 11x17 sheets of paper) and shipped overnight from the UK to the United States.

So, not just ridiculous over-packaging, but the waste of jet fuel on a trans-Atlantic flight.
Agree that most retailers over do it. One company I think are doing a great job are CowBoom, I bought a Bluray player, and a couple of tablels, and they have this awesome way of securing the item right in the middle of the box with clever packaging.

But one item is not fair on this list; reason the maple syrup shipped separate could be because it came from a separate warehouse.
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