Take my Styrofoam away

In 1973 Paul Simon didn’t want his Kodachrome taken away. With Kodachrome almost relegated to the dustbin of history, there’s something else that deserves a place there (or worse) as well: styrofoam.

We talk a lot in the wine world about clever packaging but what we really need to be talking about is clever packing–environmentally responsible packing material that is.

Like hotels not washing your sheets and towels every day, this is an example where business profit-maximization and environmentalism are aligned. Hundreds of thousands of cases of wine have no doubt been shipped across the country in this Year I of direct shipping and many gift boxes are set to fly with the holidays approaching. Wineries and shops that ship directly to consumers would be well advised to consider other alternatives to Styrofoam.

MacArthur Beverages in Washington charges $12 for the shipping materials plus UPS rates to ship. Astor Wines in New York City by contrast charges only the UPS rates for out of the NYC orbit (delivery can be free in and around the city). What’s the difference?

Astor, which is developing their organic and biodynamic section, also has a “green” approach to shipping. They ship wine with cardboard inserts to cushion the bottles. While they may make sacrifices to other line items of their cash flow, I wouldn’t be surprised if a main savings was the fact that these shippers can be stacked efficiently (see photo), unlike Styrofoam, before they are boxed and shipped.

So, shippers: think green and ditch the Styrofoam (especially peanuts, which deserve a special place in Dante’s inferno). And wine buyers: the shipping container is not going to make or break your order but if possible, let the shipper know there are alternatives out there. And if you do end up with some Styrofoam, try to take it back to a store where they can re-use it.

Paul Simon already had is Kodachrome taken away. Now let’s banish Styrofoam too.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

11 Responses to “Take my Styrofoam away”

  1. I second the motion!

  2. I’m a huge fan of cardboard insert shipping, and have used it for shipping in retail, auctions, and personally. I use the shipping containers from The Spirited Shipper, http://www.spiritedshipper.com, which are relatively inexpensive (certainly by comparison to styrofoam), and work great. I even used them to ship my wine collection from New York to Buenos Aires when I moved here – all arrived safely!

  3. Thanks for the tip, saltshaker! Glad to know your carboard packing material worked for the REALLY long haul too.

    Keep us posted on the BA wine scene! Cheers.

  4. I work in a wine store that ships using cardboard. However we would be more than happy to re-use someone’s styrofoam shipper and I’m sure most other retailers would too.

  5. It’s time to stop the manufacture of white styrofoam. There are just some things the world is better without. Styrofoam is one of them. The corporations that manufacture styrofoam should be ashamed of themselves. How do the people who run these companies get up in the morning and look themselves in the mirror? They are people of death, they kill living things with their styrofoam. And they know it. But they do it anyway, because they have no soul and no conscience. Why have they not been stopped?

  6. Our boutique winery The Neighborhood Cellar in Massachusetts is considering packaging right now for our upcoming release. We found that the Original Earth Shipper will be an excellent choice (packaging made from cornstarch) if we can get it in time for shipping our wines later this year. They are presently setting up distribution in the Northeast. Since this type of packaging might be cost prohibitive, we are also considering pulp cardboard. We felt very strongly about NOT using styrofoam for shipping our wines. -AP

  7. […] I’ve expressed my opinions about the dreaded Styrofoam before, I’ll put the question to you: Which packaging material do you prefer, cardboard, with higher […]

  8. […] I’ve expressed my opinions about the dreaded Styrofoam before, I’ll put the question to you: Which packaging material do you prefer, cardboard, with higher […]

  9. Here in the UK all wine ships with cardboard inserts and it can all be recycled. Ours aren’t though, we re-use the boxes as the shipping guy in our office loves cardboard wine cases – they’re extra strong and can easily be re-used.

  10. I make about a monthly trip to Pedroncelli Winery in Dry Creek Valley, and unload my car… Best recycling solution I know, but then… I live in Sonoma County. ;^)

  11. I know this is an old thread, but I’m a new reader and this is a topic that really moves me to words.

    Here in Oregon, I haven’t seen a single styrofoam shipping container since I’ve lived here and been buying wine ( 9 years now ).

    I’m guessing there may be a few that use them, but I wouldn’t want to support them if they did.

    I get at least the equivalent of 4-5 cases of wine shipped to me every year through clubs and have never had a bottle break.

    Last year I signed up with Williams Selyem ( CA Winery– supposed to be fantastic ) and on the very first shipment, I receive a three pack in styrofoam.

    I called the winery twice, speaking to staff and never once received a call back when I inquired about alternative shipping materials. The best they could do was for a pickup ( not convenient when I live in OR).

    After that, I dropped them. I’m surrounded by great people, making good to great wine at great price points, and they’re not using styrofoam.

    After I quit the club, I received and email asking why.. and I explained my reasoning. I’m only one person, but I”m hoping that this may help move them in some small way to more responsible business practices ( but I doubt it ).

    Besides… I still haven’t found a Cali Pinot Noir that can live up to an Oregon Pinot… I”m not much into Fruit Bombs.. and they’re not much into finesse.( in my very humble plebian opionion).

    I’m not a wine expert.. just a consumer who votes with his wallet.


Wine Maps

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

See my op-eds in the NYT
"Drink Outside the Box"
"Red, White, and Green"


Monthly Archives


Blog posts via email



Wine industry jobs


One of the “fresh voices taking wine journalism in new and important directions.” -World of Fine Wine

“His reporting over the past six months has had seismic consequences, which is a hell of an accomplishment for a blog.” -Forbes.com

"News of such activities, reported last month on a wine blog called Dr. Vino, have captivated wine enthusiasts and triggered a fierce online debate…" The Wall Street Journal

"...well-written, well-researched, calm and, dare we use the word, sober." -Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher, WSJ

jbf07James Beard Foundation awards

Saveur, best drinks blog, finalist 2012.

Winner, Best Wine Blog

One of the "seven best wine blogs." Food & Wine,

One of the three best wine blogs, Fast Company

See more media...


Wine books on Amazon: