It's been interesting to watch "problematic", a very dry and clinical sounding term, evolve into "gross", a far more openly moralistic declaration. The shift reflects a lot about trends in progressive thought and discourse itself over the past decade.
So much so, that it was actually jarring to discover that the headline actually meant... "gross"! As in, there are references to dead animals, etc in the body text. It's been so long since I've seen the word used in its classic sense, it was surprising!
Not that I have any issue with people believing whatever they want to, but using a word associated with objectivity to lend your inherently subjective statement of opinion a false imprimatur of hard truth is certainly disingenuous.
On the flip side I can definitely see how someone would look at that and say "Well I subjectively don't agree with what you think is objective" - I don't really see a way around that. Ultimately we're all subjects and can't access objectivity directly so all communication is going to be subjective to some extent. One person might think it's "valid" to murder someone if it's legal in their situation, while someone else might think that's never a "valid" option, and both could be correct if one is talking about legality and the other is talking about morality
>We can dispense now with a common myth of modern shopping: The stuff you return probably isn’t restocked and sent back out to another hopeful owner
No, that's not really what happens: it's one of the biggest bugbears of third party Amazon sellers that FBA workers are biased towards restocking even damaged or dirty products. It creates problems for third party seller performance metrics and also issues for customers. The seller is blamed when a customer complains about such a damaged product. When possible most professional sellers prefer to process their own returns so that they can discard or repackage items that have been damaged.
Some of the statistics in the article also conflate the situation with apparel, in which huge proportions of likely returns must be factored in, with other categories in which return rates are really quite low. This is something that all sellers will know like the back of their hands because their return rates are in their dashboards and have to be planned for in all business metrics.
Furthermore, at least with Amazon, few items are "destroyed" even when they are slated to be destroyed. They are often resold on pallets to other sellers or directly to customers through Warehouse Deals. This causes problems when, say, items that have been alleged to be counterfeit are slated for "destruction" but instead wind up recirculated through Warehouse Deals or to liquidation sellers.
This paragraph touches on it without going into the full implications:
>This is why it’s difficult to accurately estimate what portion of returned merchandise is discarded, or even how much waste it adds up to, though we do know that billions of pounds of returns are thrown away in the U.S. every year. Joel Rampoldt, a managing director at the consulting firm AlixPartners, told me that most people in the industry believe that about 25 percent of returns are discarded, although the proportion varies widely depending on the product (clothing tends to be easier to resell than electronics that may contain user data, for example).
Even electronics slated for recycling or destruction often instead are sold to refurbishers. There's less waste than you might think when it's possible for actual junk to be resold as refurbished. The reason why it's not necessarily tracked is that the e-waste processing plant is not going to report to research firms about all the refurbishers that they sell to, even though there are pretty well built up electronics refurbishing certification organizations that promote the practice.
Not all journalists are bad: I've been a source (directly quoted and on background) on topics like this for the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Verge, Bloomberg, and others and have sometimes been pleasantly surprised by the amount of work and thought that the journalist did. Quality of articles has very little to do with the brand of the publication and everything to do with the quality of the individuals involved in writing the article. In this I think she picked mostly good sources and touched on some of the major themes, but a lack of familiarity with the industry undermined her ability to synthesize all the information.
It seems like she kind of came into it with the preconceived notion that returns are bad for the environment, and then assembled a bunch of information that neither fully supported nor fully undermined that preconception.
What's also missing from this article is that free returns are essential for establishing customer trust in ecommerce before purchases are made. People are more confident to make the purchase when they know they can return it. They are just much more circumspect with their money when they can't return it. The cost of processing returns is lower than the cost of liquidation and restocking with new product, so that is why the practice has become particularly more prevalent with online retail.
That's what'd be challenging to measure. It's really an issue in which returns result in maybe 12.5% junk, 12.5% resalable, versus a situation in which maybe 60% of the stuff on the shelf would have to be liquidated because customers were more circumspect with making a purchase in the first place. Stopping returns in the name of the environment could easily have the unintended consequence of resulting in more discarded new products due to lack of customer confidence.
what are the things to look for?
While it was actually i. amazon's custody.
I understand we have freedom of contract, but contract that directly contradict physical reality should be considered invalid or fraudulent.
At least, until manufacturers compensate by producing less stuff. People consuming less is a good thing for the planet and a bad thing for the way our society is structured.
Unless we never want our trash picked up, some folks are gonna have to work gross jobs.
What I find interesting and perhaps "problematic" is that these gross jobs do not always pay well.
It then had information about ports that was totally wrong for both models.
So how do I know if I should buy a cable, and which one it should be?
Is a correct description, size, wight, etc. Too much to ask?
The downside is that it's a total crapshoot on what's available, what it goes for, and what condition it's in.
The upside is that 90%+ of the stuff I've gotten - a tent, a pull up bar, a Roomba, and lots of other things - have been in great shape and it didn't got to a landfill. I've had to replace screws and do minor fixes but after getting it 80% off, $1 worth of parts and 20 minutes of work is a great deal.
> Free Returns Are Complicated, Laborious, and Gross
> used a hybrid trajectory that launched to a highly elliptical Earth orbit that fell short of the Moon with effectively a free return to the atmospheric entry corridor. They then performed a mid-course maneuver to change to a trans-Lunar trajectory that was not a free return. This retained the safety characteristics of being on a free return upon launch and only departed from free return once the systems were checked out and the lunar module was docked with the command module, providing back-up maneuver capabilities. In fact, within hours after the accident, Apollo 13 used the lunar module to maneuver from its planned trajectory to a circumlunar free-return trajectory. Apollo 13 was the only Apollo mission to actually turn around the Moon in a free-return trajectory (however, two hours after perilune, propulsion was applied to speed the return to Earth by 10 hours and move the landing spot from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean).
Sizing for people is complicated. Even if you get fitted by a tailor there's often some adjustment of the final product.
Maybe there could be more customization that doesn't require personal service, but people probably don't want to pay for semi-custom by and large just like most people don't pay to have tailored clothing. Just standardizing sizes by itself isn't sufficient because it's been well-researched that people are not "average" across many dimensions.
It kinda makes more sense than having it mailed back to be destroyed.
For some cheap items I think Amazon concluded that the benefits in terms of costs to them and of customer satisfaction outweigh the risk and cost of fraud. I'm also sure that they have extensive data on their customers.
I happily closed the box up and put it in my trashcan, then ordered another.
A carbon tax levied on fossil fuels might change the economics of this. Or it might just accelerate the electrification of the reverse logistics chain. Either of which seems good.
The other piece is the cheap labor that makes this possible. Or maybe the problem is that the labor isn't cheap enough to be worth reprocessing things back into inventory? Even after reading I can't sort it out.
That doesn't seem true. I've had more than my fair share of items bought from amazon that were clearly not new and had been returned by a previous customer. I actually don't particularly mind in most cases for electronics since after all I've returned things in the past. Of course that's in the context of electronics and I guess when it comes to fashion, it's a lot more iffy.
Not sure why you think it's gross. I know stores that sell used hiking/camping gear on commission. A lot of people buy such gear and then don't use it much.
which I guess is a digital app that will measure you for clothes.
I wonder if their percentages for returns are significantly different than industry averages,
if so, I wonder if the concept might not work as a add in across other clothing lines
If we as a society really have a problem with this we can outlaw trashing non-trash to some extend. Then hope for the whistle blowers to tell us what brands keep on trashing stuff that many people would happily accept.
The system we live in is not built on common sense ("why trash good things?"). It's built on profit maximization/ fast growth ("trashing is cheaper than restocking or brick-mortar"). So this is not likely to change. Sadly.
This right here. The government could take care and regulate online shopping to dis-incentivize "fast fashion" and other crap that essentially only helps kill off the planet faster.
Whatever they're wasting in returns, they're saving something in reducing the need for physical stores.
I didn't see anything in the way of the discussion of these tradeoffs,
but physical locations for big box stores certainly aren't environmentally free.
A physical store presence has way more positive effect for a society as a whole than online shopping has. Just look at the developments of the last two decades: Walmart has destroyed local, reachable-by-foot grocery stores, and Amazon (plus corona) has obliterated physical retail. The result is entire communities that have no places left where people regularly come in contact with each other. Inner cities decay (see e.g. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/theres-terrifying-mall-blight...), quality of life declines, and social cohesion vanishes.
You want a reason why Trump got elected, why right-wing populism is on the rise across Western countries? The blight of physical store presence - or, to be precise, the providers of essential services vanishing - is a huge part of the reason why so many people feel disconnected from society. An empty mall, a village center void of any human presence, public services shutting down because the tax base of said stores has vanished? That is immediately visible to the people, and they, historically proven, vote for the person who claims the loudest he has a recipe to fix the situation or at least offers a convenient boogeyman (immigrants, China, Jews, ...).
Yeah, but not for the planet.
It's incredibly inefficient for people to drive their car to a store and pick up items that take up like 5% of the total space in the vehicle; the ratio of fuel burned to goods shipped is terrible. Maybe grocery shopping isn't so bad, but going to the store to buy one TV or a few linens for the bedroom? What percent of the fuel burned was actually used to move the goods vs. to move the car? Not even 1%.
Compare this to filling up a diesel delivery truck to ship goods around town, optimized by algorithms for maximum efficiency.
In a well planned and funded city you'd have public transport to transport people to stores where they can look at and try out items before committing to buy them.
The fact that most goods that are returned (and a disturbingly large amount of goods that haven't been sold but incur high storage fees, see https://daserste.ndr.de/panorama/archiv/2021/Trotz-Neuregelu...) are actually destroyed is what makes the environmental balance so bad.