Tool brands have been taking steps to decrease waste and increase sustainability.
In 2021, Dewalt launched their new ToughSeries tape measures with eco-friendly packaging. They said the goal was to make all of their packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
I regularly receive press releases and fact sheets about sustainability and other changes companies are making to become more environmentally-friendly.
While looking for something on Amazon, I came across a listing for 3M’s ScotchBlue painter’s tape – I’m sure you know the stuff.
There’s an image slide that talks about its sustainability.
- Tape made with 45% renewable resources
- Solvent-free adhesive
- Tape made in a zero-landfill site
- Tape made in a site certified for energy management
For a product that’s inherently disposable, any attention to sustainability is a good thing.
But will this influence your purchasing decisions?
Would you buy Scotch painter’s tape over a brand such as Frogtape (also on Amazon), which doesn’t mention anything about sustianability?
I should note that Frogtape’s manufacturer did put out a report on their website where they talk about their “getting greener” initiatives in 2021. Frogtape is taking steps to move their premium painter’s tapes to “more sustainable paper and adhesive solutions.”
Some brands have tied their efforts into their marketing language, such as with the Scotch tapes mentioned above. Others share their messaging more with investors.
Stanley Black & Decker, on their corporate site, mentions a 2030 target for going “beyond carbon neutral, achieving zero waste to landfill, and ensuring sustainable water use” across their operations.
Less environmental impact – in general – is better. When hiking or camping, and really anywhere there’s no public trash collection, it’s best to not leave a trace. You’re supposed to leave the environment as you found it – or better, and it seems brands are starting to do this.
ESG – Environmental, Social, and Governance – seems to be a hot topic these days, but I’m not interested in politics.
Does it matter to you, what companies are doing to improve sustainability, whether it’s sharing about their factory-level initiatives, or launching products in new packaging?
Personally, I like the direction I’m seeing, but I can’t say it has steered any of my purchasing decisions yet.
I am happy that Stanley Black & Decker moved to using cardboard packaging for their ToughSeries tape measures, rather than a plastic-lined card. But if there’s a product I prefer better, the nature of the packaging won’t sway me.
Clamshell packaging is the worst. (Right?) It’s tough to open and then sits in a landfill forever. I’d pay a few cents more for cardboard or compostable plastic packaging. But would I avoid a product just because that’s how it’s packaged? No.
I received an email yesterday, about how an established European hand tool brand is “constantly investing in processes and new technologies to further reduce the ecological footprint.”
Dewalt sent out an email last month, discussing how they and a partner are launching an AI-based solution and sensors to reduce carbon emissions from concrete.
I have been emailed in recent weeks about sustainable plywood, brand efforts to create sustainable infrastructure, sustainable value chains, energy recovery operations, lower carbon cement, sustainable power and automation, a shuttering robot that uses more sustainable recyclable aluminum side forms, more sustainable work boots, and more.
This is a topic I am constantly peppered with in the context of news stories, but it looks like it’s making its way into product marketing as well.
Politics aside, I want to know if sustainability efforts have steered your purchasing decisions, and how.
I’m probably opening a can of worms here.
Readers have complained about the poor sustainability of tools with built-in batteries, as well as those with proprietary battery packs.
The “Right to Repair” has been a hot topic as well.
If there are two identical products, one in plastic clamshell packaging, and one with fully recyclable cardboard, would you pick one over the other?
Do things such as renewable resources, zero-landfill waste management, energy recovery, and emissions controls factor into your purchasing decisions?
As a reminder, please be polite and civil in comments.
I’m all for it. Make the world a better, safer place for me, the people who are making the tools, my children, their children, everyone.
Plastic crap is everywhere and only getting worse.
I personally only use cardboard and paper for shipping supplies. Aside from the tape it’ll break down quickly at the landfill. I also use recycled plastic, best attempt I have for selling plastic stuff with a goal of not destroying the planet I’m on.
I sure hope the clamshell packaging goes away as soon as possible. I really like the cardboard packaging on the tape measures shown. I wonder if the Tough Series tape measures come in 16′ length?
They do, Home Depot has it, they’re not just not very well-stocked in stores at times.
If you use it outside it won’t take long before the numbers peel off.
I’ll take eco-friendly packaging over t plastic every time. I hate seeing plastic waste everywhere.
This shouldn’t be a can of worms or political, but sadly, it is.
That’s the most frustrating thing, especially when sustainability shifts are driven by reducing costs / market demand.
IMO, 100% yes. I don’t really care about “carbon neutral” because the global warming thing is a scam. The acceptance of plastic is pretty lazy and efforts to recycle don’t really work.
Conservation is important and worthwhile, and I change my spending habits as much as possible in accordance with it.
I would say it steers my purchasing habits a bit for sure, but the thing that gets me most on board is when they mention water use and responsibility. Water is human necessity and with some major corporations hinting that they would like to be able to turn the opinion of it from a human right to something to value and market like Nestle has done:
“Water is, of course, the most important raw material we have today in the world. It’s a question of whether we should privatize the normal water supply for the population. And there are two different opinions on the matter. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution. The other view says that water is a foodstuff like any other, and like any other foodstuff it should have a market value. Personally, I believe it’s better to give a foodstuff a value so that we’re all aware it has its price, and then that one should take specific measures for the part of the population that has no access to this water, and there are many different possibilities there.”
While other major corporations extract and others depositing their waster into fresh water ways is a huge concern so anytime I hear something like “beyond carbon neutral, achieving zero waste to landfill, and ensuring sustainable water use” it gets my attention. Now will I be able to tell that when I walk into a store to make a purchase, no, but that just means i’ll have to do some research before hand and make educated choices.
The right to water always fascinated me. There are places in the USA where it is illegal to harvest rain water, but have zero issue charging you a monthly water bill.
The same goes with solar as well. You can have it, but you cannot be entirely off the grid. It’s funny how the government wants everyone to go green, but not so green that it interrupts their cash flow.
I agree re: water capture. I’m in the SF Bay Area, which has constant water concerns but not allowed to capture rain water on my property. I’m building a workshop in my backyard and the Building Dept is very concerned about making sure I put 120 ft of 4” drain line to the street to mitigate any chance the water flows from my property to my neighbors’. But capturing the water in a cistern to water my vegetable garden is prohibited.
SFPUC has rain barrel rebates so any city that bans it is behind the curve.
Yes, but very warily because of lot of it is not done in good faith or without solid science. Marketers have hijacked the green banner, there is no mechanism to prefilled the ecological friendly claims. Not the FCC, they don’t have the staffing. Without solid science- a very universal and practical example. Municipalities don’t give details on what is truly recyclable. Much that good meaning citizens put in their recycle bins cannot be recycled and just literally gum up the works.
I feel like the very fact I have switched from gas-powered tools to battery-powered tools is my biggest step in sustainability. I still use a lawn tractor for most of the yard, but the gas push mower got replaced by a Ryobi mower, and my trimmer, chainsaw etc are all battery-powered. I hope I never see a two-cycle motor ever again!
As for packaging, that won’t make me buy the tool over a better one (or compatible with my batteries), but I will certainly curse the manufacturer (online as well as IRL) for making it too hard to get into the package. I once slashed my hand open trying to get into the package for a bicycle pump.
Ironically the battery platform tools are actually worse off for the environment. Mining the minerals used in the batteries is extremely environmentally taxing. Then charging the batteries from the electrical grid that is coal, natural gas, nuclear or hydro (not green anymore) powered. Wind and solar are still small portions of the electrical grid.
Don’t feel bad it’s a common misconception. At some point it will be “greener” but we probably have a couple battery revolutions and power generation revolutions to go through first.
We definitely both agree that ridiculous hard to open packaging needs to be gone like yesterday!!!!
You’re not wrong that battery power isn’t the environmental panacea it’s made out to be, but the ‘long tail pipe’ theory is still proven to be false.
Coal-fired power plants are far from ideal, but still much, much more efficient than individual combustion engines, to the point that it only takes an electric car a few years to cancel out it’s manufacturing pollution and break even with a ICE vehicle. And that’s on a 100% dirty grid. And as more renewable power generation comes online, it will only get better.
Now consider that OPE and other small gas engines are leagues worse in efficiency and pollution than a gas car (even a not particularly fuel efficient one) and the positive effects of ditching gas tools are even more pronounced.
Running an older gas lawnmower for an hour pollutes as much as driving a gas car or truck for like 5 hours.
Plus even though lithium batteries aren’t ‘green’, at least that amount of resources gets cycled hundreds or thousands of times before being recycled, vs extracted from the ground and instantly burnt up.
Cradle to grave multi-variant analyses can be complicated – but as you say – you probably have to look at the entire chain (from raw materials dug out of the ground, through manufacturing of components needed every step of the way and then to the emissions and waste streams that result. Perhaps 100 years from now – folks will be talking about the switch to EV’s – what was right and wrong about how we went about it – and what needs to be done to fix some of the problems (now as yet unforseen) that became apparent with time.
As such, it should be down to the consumer and the government should fuck off with regulations. Consumers can make far better sustainability choices than the government.
An example would tool, or car not used very often, is better off as a gas based. California banning the sale of said gas engines is stupid. A Propane Generator is far greener for backup power than a huge battery system
Batteries are also terrible in cold weather and waste power being charged and discharged…
Everything should be plug in, or gas. Batteries in everything is stupid.
Also Nuclear, because every form of green energy is actually less effective, and pollutes more. Only Solar is good because you can install remotely.
The battery mining industry is indeed taxing for the environment, degrading local ecosystems and affecting nearby towns. But so is coal mining and oil rigs. It’s a trade off.
There are numerous studies that all reach the same conclusion: 4-7% of the world’s emissions come from the mining industry. GHG emissions from increased mining of rare earth materials used for zero emission energy purposes is more than offset by the decarbonization these energy sources contribute to, thus lower overall warming.
Here’s the paper my info is sourced from: “Future demand for electricity generation materials under different climate mitigation scenarios” posted on Joule
You mention mining the materials for batteries, but according to the studies I’ve seen, drilling for petroleum is worse for the environment.
You also mention charging batteries from non-renewable sources like coal, but that doesn’t eliminate the green advantage batteries have. As Harrison says, power plants are far more efficient than small gasoline engines, especially the 2-cycle engines typically used for OPE. That’s a slight oversimplification, since few powerplants burn crude oil and none (to my knowledge) burn refined products like gasoline. But if you consider pollution other than just CO2, batteries come out far, far ahead. It would help if OPE were required to have catalytic converters, but they aren’t. The result is they pour out thousands of times (literally) the non-CO2 pollution that even an automobile does.
fred mentions cradle-to-grave studies, but IIRC, the ones I’ve seen still show battery-powered equipment are far better for the environment than gasoline-powered, even when comparing buying new electric equipment, with the energy costs in manufacturing, shipping, etc., vs keeping the gasoline equipment you already have.
But if you can cite any studies supporting your claim, I’d love to see them. Maybe I’ve missed something!
Environmental initiatives do not impact my decision of what products to purchase. That decision is normally a combination of best tool for the job/price/availability. That being said, I appreciate the ethics of being responsible producers – and that practice shouldn’t just be for marketing purposes.
Well said….I agree. It’s an honest response. I do really wish they’d do away with clam shell packaging. I’d be willing to pay a little more for something zip-tied to cardboard.
Talking about tools, I agree about plastic packaging. I am going to throw away this packaging anyways. Just put it in a cardboard box or with a paper tag like the tape measures shown. These are durable goods.
Recycling is an opaque topic IMO. Working in the plastics industry myself I saw how even having adhesive labels on a plastic item would actually make that item non-recyclable. Plastics are accepted into your local recycling facility probably, yes. But in reality “recycling” plastics in many cases means re-grinding the plastic product into pellets. If contaminants can’t be easily removed it just ends of in a landfill. Adhesives on plastics mean they will gum up the grinders and won’t even be attempted to re-ground. This is why you see more and more plastic bottle’s with plastic labels that are shrunk on vs. glued on. The same is true with things like cardboard boxes that are covered in plastic tape, etc. Although I think they have some better methods for separating paper fibers from things like tape/staples/etc.
Its hard to tell what is really adding to sustainability and what is just greenwashing as well. Like okay there is no solvent in the painters tape adhesive – so what is used in its place? Do we actually have information on those compounds and their environmental effects/health effects?
So often, mfr’s will state that the absence of a “known bad” compound means that the product is better. When alot of times it means they just use a newer compound that is not studied as well and therefore is not “known to be harmful”. Just look at “BPA free” (so they use BPS instead) or “phalate compliant” (so they just used phalates that aren’t banned yet bc only like 3 of the top 10 used are). This is a crazy issue in consumer plastics associated with food items IMO.
Not especially, but if power tool manufacturers would stop making blow molded cases unique to every tool and set about standardizing batteries like, well, batteries (or at least SD cards) I think everybody wins.
No. And, getting rid of the clamshell packaging. Ive gotten cut once too many times
Even the different “Bob’s” agree clamshell packaging is bad!!!! Lol
yeah screw it even if it isn;t sustainable lets please get rid of that crap haha
No, sustainability is not a priority when purchasing products. Quality, COO, price, return policy in that order. (I might make an exception for plastic clamshell packaging! Anything that requires tin snips to open is a bit ridiculous!!!!)
I also enjoy the great outdoors and want clean air and water like everybody else. So I applaud any companies looking for environmental sustainability in their manufacturing. In practice it usually boils down to: cost savings that marketing/PR can spin to a sustainability claim which I’m fine with. Price being an important buying decision for me, I guess sustainability does influence me in a way.
However, for some product categories I look to avoid anything that mentions sustainability, as it usually means the removal of effective chemicals or compounds.
How many times has a manufacturer reformulated a product only to have the new product inferior to the old?
Deck stain would be a prime example of this. Oil based deck stain/wood preservatives hold up better for longer. However, I have seen a shift to water-based alternatives. I can’t even find the oil based Thompson’s water seal locally anymore? Also in my mind if I have to apply the water based “green” alternative every year is it really more sustainable than the oil based? Also how many years does this inferior product reduce the deck lifespan?
Lead and asbestos were the best; but, they kill people.
Oil based products also harm people. Might be the guy applying it if there is frequent exposure. The folks living around the plant making it who have higher rates of cancer have proven that.
Going green is not just warming. It is also living longer.
Unfortunately in this case “greener” is not better for health or product effectiveness.
The new water based acrylic formulation is supposedly “greener”. However, some acrylic compounds are dangerous carcinogens and mutagens. Water based products can harm people as well.
The old oil formulation of Thompson’s water seal (mainly paraffin wax[non toxic], linseed oil [non toxic flax seed oil] and turpentine [used since the Roman’s for medicine]) is nowhere close to being as dangerous as tetraethyl lead or asbestos.
Oil based products restore natural oils to the wood in addition to sealing out water. Particularly important for deck boards baking in the sun every day. Water based products lack this important attribute.
Interestingly Thompson’s website shows both formulations are still available. Locally I could only find the water based stuff. So I guess literally pick our preferred poison.
I did find a lot of recommendations for Armstrong Clark oil stains. Spendy but you get what you pay for supposedly.
Lead literally needs to be consumed in large amounts to actually be dangerous. Sure, it’s a good idea not to paint a bedroom in it…
That being said, the amount of stuff we are banning is stupid, especially if it increases the workload significantly because we are using worse products. I hardly call that green.
What? You may need to reeducate yourself about lead.
It is readily absorbed through the skin, and you may have heard in school about the maladies early Roman folks had from breathing lead fumes (to say nothing of the lead plumbing and eating utensils, but those two would align with your statement).
I agree that we have gone a little overboard in efforts to ban/reduce it, but y’know there are a lot of stupid people in the world. If I were a machinist I might feel differently but I think removing the lead from so many types of brass wasn’t great (and that lead to plastic manifolds in plumbing fixtures…meanwhile some people probably get more lead in their system by rubbing their keys every day…).
While I’m certainly no perfect saint, I do favor certain packaging. The ideal is no unnecessary packaging like hanger cards at all, but paper/cardboard is certainly better than plastic, even recycled plastic.
The thing that gets my goat the most though is how different recycling services can be from even just city to city. What they take, and how they actually deal with it requires so much research that shouldn’t be necessary. And as far as I can tell the places I’ve lived are still some of the best in the states in terms of percent material captured and removed from the waste stream.
For my business I do commit, for both ethical and marketing reasons, to only using compostable/recyclable materials for packaging and shipping. Almost all of the single-use plastic I use for the business is PPE or ingredients.
Power tool wise I’m a DIY/hobbyist, and I only really mind proprietary batteries if they’re getting thrown away before they’re worn out (and most batteries can be at least partially recycled) or served their purpose. My old NiMh pods lasted just long enough for the tools themselves to become entirely obsolete (and I was the second owner of most of those). My first Makita Li-ion battery pack is still fine for the impact driver it came with, but it’s lost enough capacity that I don’t really use it on the hungrier tools. But it’s also over ten years old now and has served me through multiple remodels. Can’t argue it hasn’t done enough work. My Ryobi packs (only used on a drill and brad nailer) all died within a couple years which does feel wasteful.
All my Ryobi batteries still work. I think the oldest ones are around 8 years old.
So do my all my m12 1.5 ah batteries which are as old and have seen some hard use over the years.
Here in Colorado, plastic shopping bags are now universally ten cents each. But a huge percentage of grocery products are barely recyclable, and there’s no significant effort I’ve heard of to welcome “pre-cycling”, where fewer items are destined to be nothing more than trash. As John Oliver pointed out, industry has done a great job pushing the burden of sustainability off onto consumers; it’s our problem, not theirs.
Way too many politicians are focused on staggeringly unproductive “concerns”.
I’m for fixing all this stuff, though tool packaging is teeny-tiny potatoes in the big picture.
It matters to me, especially when it comes to packaging. Problem is, I buy a fair amount of stuff online, and I don’t know what the packaging looks like until I get it. I always cringe when I see giant blocks of styrofoam, plastic bags packed inside other plastic bags, and other miscellaneous one-use plastic bits, most of which are not recyclable at least where I live. I wish there were more transparency among online retailers to disclose how their products are packaged.
Ditto when it comes to clamshell packaging too. Such a waste.
To all manufacturers, please get rid of all clamshell packaging. It’s the worst. I understand that theft prevention is a consideration but that hard plastic packaging as to go.
I want products that are durable and have a reasonable lifepspan. We all know technology grows by leaps and bounds and hopefully batteries last longer and longer. Efficiency is key. I just don’t want to reinvest in a new cordless tech every 3-4 years. Some level of backwards compatibility is needed.
I’m not sure what to do with my 6+ year old cordless tools. No one really wants them so are they just trash?
I’m all for it but it’s a challenge for everyone. I suspect a lot of brands are trying this (or trying it again) with more recent pushes and news about climate and energy issues, but the international folks probably would like to simplify packaging processes since they’ve had to do this in Europe for a number of years (right? I’m unclear on the particulars of the packaging restrictions over there).
A lot of the terrible packaging has to do with nothing other than theft deterrence.
In the 90s there were several brands that started to try simplified minimal packaging and theft was of course still an issue, but then Retail Joes would also complain about a scratch or a scuff on their brand new items. As Marketing took such a huge new direction and intensity, over-the-top packaging seemed to have made a big return and then some. A lot of things just stayed the same as they always have, though.
In the end it just makes sense to minimize the packaging and reduce waste, if not energy. Easier for everyone but the salesperson.
I’m going to end up making a few seemingly opposed comments so fair warning.
1) I see marking things like that scotch tape bit as pure marketing BS. OK so it’s a landfill free site – does that mean it’s not near a land fill, they don’t have their own landfill or does it really mean the place produced NO TRASH. And it’s an energy management site – no kidding. So is pretty much every business I’ve ever worked for – energy is money. so yeah they cut the AC temp up to save a buck of 1000. that’s still energy managment. It’s solvent free well no it’s not is that harmful solvents, is that CPA listed prop 65 stuff, is that . . . . . And the biggest issue I have with it – who certifies these statements I don’t see an EPA, OSHA, ? label on that so just type random words on the next one and. HOW much extra am I paying for there to be a certification for something you should be mostly doing on your own?
OK so like I said – fair warning.
2) I do look at environmental impact some but I’m not woke it’s not about green agenda or the complete and utter nonsense that is the “hydrogen economy” or any of that fake envrionmentalism nonsense. But I look – I too hate extra waste plastic and I see no reason for the clamshell crap to still be made. for alot of reasons. I like to see recycled content in something sure – but where is it from. I have alot of other concerns but I also won’t go so far to buy something purely on environmental statements.
My understanding of “no landfill” sites is that they just sell their trash to a place that burns it for energy – BOOM! no landfill baby! We create zero trash! And what the heck does “certified for energy management” even mean? What is the criteria?
I’ve done some work for ware to energy companies and i’m all about it. Public awareness about how the technologies function is narrow scoped, on no fault of the public, I think they really need to spearhead a campaign to promote the tech. there’s a relatively high level of scrutiny to remain compliant. For all intents and purposes, it’s operates like any other energy plant with steam turbines but the fuel source is waste. The most notable difference is the furnace exhaust gases are filtered so what comes out of the chimneys is actually very innocuous. It mitigates the need for land fill real estate and you get quite a bit of energy out of it.
The business model is also fantastic. They basically have every step of the process monetized so it’s a very good economic stimulus. They make money of energy produced, they make money on tipping fees (so they’re actually paid for their fuel source), and they also make money on non combustibles. The metals that are left over can be remelted down and have obvious value.
I suspect some of this is “green washing”, were it mostly marketing and little real content.
Given a choice, I would prefer tools with less plastic packaging.
But what I think is the biggest thing I can do is to buy tools that have a long lifetime, vs. something cheap that I will have to replace. It’s the tool itself that has the biggest environmental impact, not having to replace it will be the biggest savings.
This is one of those topics that probably has so many sides to the arguments as to be almost indeterminable. Like the debate over prohibition of alcohol – where the story goes that a senator asked what they were debating about. He followed up by saying if by alcohol – they meant the often-addictive substance known as demon rum that destroyed people’s lives, ruined their livers and ate into their paychecks – well then, he was in favor of prohibition. But if they were talking about alcohol – that elixir of life – the stuff of good fellowship and comradery that warmed your spirit on a dreary cold night – then by Jove he was against its prohibition.
In this case of greener – more sustainable options for tools and their packaging – I can see this as a way for some manufacturers to distinguish their products. I personally would not buy a product who’s only salient selling point was eco friendliness – especially if that came with nothing more than added cost. But others might – so manufacturers might look to see what they can do – especially if doing so is cost-neutral. As others have said – it those initiatives result in less plastic clamshell packaging – then I’m in favor of that.
There is no doubt that we are consuming the earth’s resources faster than we can replenish them or are finding suitable alternatives. As a child. I can recall scrap metal drives, home soap making and rationing during WWII – and think that we will need to find better and alternative ways to recycle or reduce our consumption/trashing of metals, plastics etc. There are lots of smart people in the world – so, I’m hopeful that we will collectively figure it out so that this old codger’s descendent will still have a decent place to live with a good lifestyle.
Yes/No. I rather see less plastic used, more paper/cardboard packaging. As far as a product like tape being made from recycled/renewable ingredients I say no usually cause it isn’t as good as the original.
That being said we waste to much time and money recycling when the fact is 5% or recycling is actually recycled. The rest actually can’t be. Also we are not out of room or will be for a 1000 years in landfills. NYC for example spends $320+ million on recycling and only can recycle 5% of it.
Imagine what could have been done with 320 million and there would have been no noticeable effect elsewhere.
We need to focus on producing better products from the beginning more than anything. Less consumables, more durables like in History.
It’s not going to influence my purchase one way or another. To be honest if the packaging is absolutely full of virtue signaling buzz words it might make me not want to purchase it.
My purchases are more driven by where a product is made and how employees are treated. I have made a concerted effort since about 2018 to not buy Chinese goods and in the second half of 2020 I really doubled down on it. It costs me extra but I feel it’s worth it.
Jamie Lee Davis
Frustration free packaging that reduces waste………
‘Will this ‘influencer’ your purchasing decisions
Yes in the way that I am trying to buy as local as possible and from countries that have higher environmental standards.
I have written to companies when they switched from styrofoam packaging to cardboard etc.
I was not aware that there are certified tool companies doing that.
Last time I came across that was with the cycling component company Chris King which follows some high environmental/sustainable certification which is very different from the usual greenwashing.
But I will keep my eyes open from now on.
Thank you for writing this.
Most people can barely afford their grocery bills these days. I don’t think the general public cares. They just want whatever is cheapest that won’t fall apart immediately.
It does to me, as part of the overall purchase. I look for a tool or product that will last and is repairable. (I’m a big supporter of Right to Repair) If its made and sold in a more environmentally friendly way, that’s even better. I’d choose minimal paper/cardboard packaging over plastic, styrofoam or those dreaded clam shells every time. If a company can make their product with less toxic chemicals, less water, less inputs and waste overall, I can’t understand how that isn’t viewed as a good thing for all of us. People, animals and land exist where those things are made, we should do our best to take care of them.
“But will this influencer your purchasing decisions?”
You meant to use the verb and not noun here, didn’t you?
Yep. Thanks – *fixed*! Somehow I make that same mistake 9 times out of 10.
If we’re talking about construction materials (especially for indoor use) that have less eco impact to harvest / toxic to produce and use / are eventually recycled, that is 100% part of my purchasing decision.
For example: I was pretty pumped to see RevolutionPly 5mm at Lowes for some indoor projects. US-produced from “sustainable plantation sources.” The ubiquitous cheap Luan that is used for underlayment is almost all harvested from poorly managed / illegal tropical rainforest sources.
For flooring and carpet I always look for the GreenGuard Gold certification, especially a LVP product.
When it comes to packaging, I’m glad to see a trend toward cardboard packaging but it is not part of my buying decision.
I don’t even want to know how many phthalate compounds I’m exposed to from the rubber tool grips I have in my basement workshop!
I would rather buy a high quality too that comes in non recyclable packaging than a tool that will need consistently replaced that comes in recyclable packaging.
Single use plastics should be banned unless necessary, screwdriver bits don’t need blister packs.
Even packing peanuts can be biodegradable now, that should be the standard, not the outlier.
Companies should be fined into the ground for making false or misleading statements about there green policies as well, companies like apple would be making a major change in marketing wank.
Consumers don’t make choices that are best for the long term. Companies don’t either. Both make decisions that actively harm people. We are selfish and make short term choices such as for lower prices. We are dumb on average, but intelligent as a whole. Governments give us speed limits and stop signs because we wouldn’t otherwise. They also limit what companies can sell. Whether any single person cares about sustainability is of no effect to the world. Industry wide efforts make impact and that will only happen with strict laws with the ability to suitably fine and punish unless companies act sustainably.
It absolutely influences my choices, but it won’t trump getting the better/right tool for the job. Similarly, if I’m all in one one cordless power tool brand and another starts making a stronger commitment to sustainability, I’m not going to buy a tool from the second brand and the associated battery and charger just for sustainability’s sake.
Another part of sustainability is not making everything so cheaply that they’re disposable (not talking about tape), and not shipping things in insufficient packaging that will result in damaged products going to a landfill.
We really don’t have a choice in the matter, end-to-end/lifecycle sustainability needs to become more integral to how we make and value products and services. That quickly gets in to things that have turned political (carbon taxes for example) but ignoring the externalized costs (in pollution, waste, health impact, environmental impact) doesn’t mean they don’t exist. We only get these products for less because we let the companies (and ourselves) ignore those costs and we tend to push their negative impact on to poorer or disadvantaged communities first.
Climate change is proof that that mentality is catching up to us.
I’m on my lunch break so I am going to respond for everyone who is at work right now trying to make a living with their tools… no… The greenwashing marketing is clearly for the people who don’t use these products to make a living. If putting food on my family’s table is dependent on my tools/materials you bet I will choose the best product regardless of what kind of packaging, how many unicorns are employed at the factory or any of the other ESG nonsense. I want the best people at their job, making the best product they can make, at a fair price. In fact I will gladly pay more for a non-eco friendly product that works well (See Paint Stripper)
As a fellow hard working blue collar man I agree with Mike entirely. This might ruffle some feathers, but at my age I stopped caring what people might or might not be offended by. Feeding my family and making it so my kids have a better life than I did is all that mattes. All this green talk accompanied by ESG stuff is pure marketing from team blue.
Let me tell you; the bills don’t pay themselves and I cannot afford to be behind the curve with that. Just like all that computer talk about social media and all that mess; I mind my own business and my business is my country and family. To the best of my ability I support domestically made products so we can hire the best and brightest along with quality products.
Tool wise, I think paying for quality and longevity is probably the best way to minimize waste, pollution and carbon footprint.
I cringe when some professionals recommend buying cheap disposable power tools vs quality ones to save money. I get that it can work out cheaper sometimes, but the ethics of it make me uncomfortable enough to not care if I’m missing out.
I don’t like the waste of throwing away broken plastic and metal tools, or the time and effort of haggling over ‘lifetime warranties’ at the big-box customer service desk.
I think premium tools are an asset that help you execute better work, and charge more for your time. Why all the effort to race to the bottom?
I’m regards to packaging, I see no reason for supposedly rugged tools to come in anything other than post-consumer cardboard, and the occasional clear plastic bag. Blister packs are the devil- any time you’ve got paper glued to plastic, you know that shit is just going to rot in a landfill or get burnt. I prefer to do most of my shopping in person, and absolutely will pass over a product if it’s excessively packaged, and there’s a solid alternative.
End of the day though, tools and packaging pale in comparison to the amount of waste that the building industry generates. Plastic bags for insulation, kilometres of release film for flashing and roof underlay, spent caulking tubes, foam insulation off-cuts, on and on. So much garbage. If I find a product that comes in cardboard and doesn’t leave plastic crap all over the jobsite, I stick to it.
Re. the Scotch masking tape? That’s just green washing BS, 3M is no saint.
100% for it. Hate seeing plastic waste and trash everywhere. Manufacturers also need to get rid of those evil platic clamshells that are a PITA open and are great at slicing fingers.
I’ve never spent one second worrying about it, so no.
I don’t pay any attention to it. Frankly, it is not a factor at all in my purchase decision.
All else being similar in terms of price/value, I would buy tools based on these priorities:
Made in USA (IMO, even a ‘dirty’ USA plant is likely cleaner than one in China)
More recycled/recyclable materials, like cardboard over plastic.
Made without or at least less pollution practices (example would be water based over oil based finish).
Would I pay more for something that had less environmental impact? Yes.
How much more: It depends. I will hardly even look at a light with disposable batteries anymore, unless it is for something like a kid’s light that they will probably lose or break, or one for emergency use that uses 123 batteries with a 10+ year life sitting in the glovebox. Otherwise, I’ll pay more for rechargeable batteries, and will recycle the spent ones, even if it costs a bit more.
Now on the other hand, I won’t pay double for ‘organic’ food, largely because I’m a farmer, and realize that while organic requires certain standards, minimum environmental impact is not necessarily one of them.
Yep… why not ‘consider’? I don’t understand all the ‘nopes’ but thats OK. other advantage, much of the reduced packaging also exposes the tool or item so you can get a sense of its feel, construction, play with it a bit… that way i don’t have to destroy a package in the store just to ‘check it out’ before purchase!
Nope, it is all just Green Washing, Most green products are sub standard anyways. Not interested in that at all, in fact when I see claims on how much carbon or landfill waste a product reduces I steer clear of it.
As far as sustainability … I try to buy products that are healthier to use ( low VOC ), if there is an ECO option within reach, I will grab it; and I try to buy any kind of tool of any kind that will last me at least 10 years and/or have a repair option or battery replacement option. Not just fly by night brands that won’t have batteries, or just require junking the tool.
Recently, I got picked on because, I was wrong … steering a new diy person away from the cheap harbor freight tools … because you know, real pros shop at HF. … I just left the conversation.
Trying to stay out of (partisan) politics as much as I can here but ESG is just really evolved greenwashing. Now expanded beyond just the “green” washing and instead I’d say a corporatization of progressive values for all that encompasses. I see it as the old version of greenashing but with more than just “green” because it targets another niche of consumers that will double take at whatever advertising is on the product to prove how ethically/morally good it is so they’ll pick it over the other one. Just another form of corporate marketing and PR spinning since the niches that were previously filled were becoming saturated.
No it has not.
Sustainability is a gimmick to play on guilt certain consumers are subject to. There’s nothing more sustainable than purchasing a quality item once rather than buying a cheaply made item multiple times and having them end up in the landfill.
I wonder what qualifies as sustainable? I hope these companies are making a good faith effort on backing their claims but I doubt it. Sustainable is the new “green” I guess. It’s just the latest buzzword in an endless supply of marketing jargon to attach to a product and hopefully improve it’s perception/value. I guess I don’t care much about a company’s practices in that regard. Quality is my ultimate decider.
Not really. I appreciate the effort, but usually these green gimmicks wind up costing the consumer more.
At the end of the day, no goods or services are going to come to the customer that impact the providers bottom line.
Tools seem to be packaged in cardboard, while batteries and accessories are vacuum packed tighter than a drum, and you need tin snips minimum, and then watch out for the sharp plastic edges. Knife of any sort is asking for trouble.
A solution for all plastic is depolymerization. Aspects of which natural forces use anything carbon based to produce renewal crude oil.
Do I appreciate the efforts towards sustainability in spirit? Sure.
Do I trust the brands that make a big deal out of it? Depends. When the going gets tough, humans have a tendency of prioritizing short term gains over long term sustainability.
The truth is, it costs very little to make claims of engaging in sustainable practices. Actually doing so is harder. If the primary concern of the corporation is to provide value to the shareholders, and if engaging in sustaibable practices raises costs, but there is margial benefit in terms of “goodwill”, performative eco-conciousness is a likely result.
Advertisers have no qualms about making little white lies that are not easily disproveable. It’s basically the whole reason the supplement market exists…
Unfortunately, though, this isn’t a topic that can be broached without wading a little into politics. We basically have a whole propaganda wing of our media ecosystem that is dedicated to the idea that anything to counter waste and climate change and unsustaibability is not only going to destroy the family but will also make the boy frogs start eyeing other boy frogs in ways that make the second boy frog very uncomfortable.
In terms of your question when the products are exactly the same, 9 times out of 10 I’d pick the cardboard version. It’s similar to when Amazon offers the frustration free packaging for the same price. However, as many commenters have pointed out, it’s not always that simple.
Like most here: NO.
Packaging and pilfer-protection are not sustainable.
Battery incompatibility between brands is non-sustainable.
Only when the company will see a savings, will it try something “green” and sustainable. But those blister packs and zipties do nothing to help. You really need a tool to access a tool.
Basically, no. For two reasons: These claims are not policed at all, so an ad can say anything at all and no one checks on it or keeps the people behind it responsible. And, it’s all spin anyway- “less waste” is not a statement I can measure or compare. Less waste than what, an imaginary version of the product?
I’ll buy a product with no packaging if I can, but the product itself is often made of non-sustainable materials, so it’s a wash.
My grout floats don’t have any outer packaging, so that’s great, but I can’t always find a wooden handled float, so I’m using plastic, and it’s a tool that absolutely will be in the garbage this year. A real bummer that there’s no coordination of responsibility for all this stuff.
“Sustainability” is just another BS keyword to manipulate people into thinking they’re buying the right stuff, just like “Angus”, “clean protein”, “locally sourced”, “quality content”, “organic”, “pure protein “, “greens”, and countless others
I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but overall I’d like to see companies pushing for reducing wasteful practices. I don’t care for the marketing terms, because I’ve worked with marketing and know the cherry picking that happens with numbers.
Product development is inherently a wasteful process. In a power tool development setting, perfectly good raw material (lumber, fasteners, concrete, pipes, and metal) is consumed when a company is building up a new tool, and that’s not to mention how many of the competitors’ offerings are bought just to test and then throw away (also using huge quantities of raw material to test with). On application testing is crucial to development to capture weird cases that don’t show up using a robot. Because of this, I don’t think tool companies will get away from consuming large amounts of material in the near to medium term future.
I would love to see a pollution estimate for product development, and the environmental impact of materials/manufacturing processes used. I would love to see tool recycle centers paired with the repair centers already in place (ship your tool to us and we’ll take care of the rest), given that these companies already have industrial recycling programs in place. I’d also love to see the different initiatives that these companies are doing in their local communities, and specifics on the results. If a company was showing me that they were really trying with these items, I would be willing to pay more for their product compared to a company who’s entire schtick is maximizing profit at the expense of everyone but the shareholder.
I’m sorry Josh, but as someone who has worked as a Development Engineer … I really don’t know what you are trying to say. Are you saying that you would rather buy a product that is just slapped together on CAD and never tried in practice? Because that is a sure way to end up with a giant turd. It’s really pretty easy to identify products which were designed with that method. Buying competitors products for testing? Well, you kind of have to do that, otherwise you don’t know what your design target is, nor do you know how the final product will compare in the market. And if you consider statistics, buying and testing 5 parts before selling 100,000 final products is … hmm. 5/100,000 = 0.00005 of the cost. Which is very cheap.
Tools also perform their functions on materials. There’s no getting away from that aspect either.
I should have been a bit more clear on that second paragraph, that’s on me. It was more to show that there are other places to look at for sustainability beyond packaging, and to also give a small bit of insight to the process of product development to those who aren’t familiar. I agree that putting a product into production without on-application testing is terrible practice. As I said in my second paragraph, this type of testing is crucial for development.
I’d be willing to bet that Milwaukee, DeWalt, and Makita are buying a lot more than 5 benchmarking tools per manufacturer when they start designing a new product. It’s also good practice to buy from multiple vendors to get different production batches. Products vary in performance between batches because of manufacturing variations. It wouldn’t surprise me if the aforementioned companies are buying dozens and dozens of competitor tools to test so they have an accurate picture of what their competitors look like.
Then you add prototype numbers. For this segment of consumer products, it’ll take multiple rounds of prototypes before it’s low enough risk to put into mass production. By the end of a development cycle, you can easily get into the low hundreds of prototypes consumed, and dozens of competitor tools trashed just to put a product out the door. That’s not even mentioning the raw materials needed for testing. Is all of that necessary? Yes. But also wasteful.
If you’re selling a drill, then that’s not a huge deal because the volumes are so high. I don’t know exact value, but your number probably isn’t far off. But what about low volume products? What if a certain product only sells 10,000 a year? What if it’s only 5,000 or 2,000 a year? What if it’s a super specific tool that only sells a couple hundred every year? The total pollution impact per unit increases by magnitudes.
That’s why I think it would be interesting to see numbers on this. Maybe something like a nutrition label, but for pollution. Metrics like tons of CO2, testing waste, chemical runoff, and other minor factors per 10,000 tools sold would give the consumer a more complete picture of the sustainability of a product beyond its packaging.
It’s not that much. Once, I worked for a company that only benchmarked a few competitor products per year. I was actually shocked – their confidence level was so high that they barely cared what the competition was doing. But that is the rare exception.
I have to apologize, but I really do take offense when I encounter products which are totally designed in CAD without any testing. Some manager barked at the engineers to just do it all on a computer, but nobody knows _everything_ and then the product turns out flawed. And you, me, everybody else has to live with an annoyance or worse, a piece of crap, just because some manager or executive wanted to do it on the cheap by cutting corners. Doing it right up front is really the inexpensive way to make a good product.
And for the record, I really do hate clamshell packaging !
Benchmarking is definitely company dependent. I’ve worked in automotive where buying dozens of competitor products just costs too much. One or two units suffice. But I’ve also worked in highly competitive consumer product industries where we ended up buying over a hundred units between the different competitors.
I completely agree with you though, design without testing is awful practice. Even companies that have robust virtual design/testing processes will build and test a physical prototype before releasing their product.
I hate clamshell too, and even the packaging engineers I know hate it. Unfortunately for consumers, it’s low cost and decent shipping protection make it a prime choice for the bean counters at companies.
Not an issue for me.
– If it impacts the quality of the tool in a negative way, I’m against it.
– If it raises the price of the tool, I’m against it.
If quality and price aren’t compromised, I’m all for it.
Want to get my attention? Make it easier to get out of the package. Then I’m yours.
I want tools that last and work. Don’t care about the rest of it.
Why is there any packaging on a tape measure?
If you can’t tell what it is then put it down and walk away. You’re not qualified to use it.
Sustainability is hugely important to me, but it isn’t a priority when I buy tools, mostly because there’s no alternative. If something were available that were more sustainable, besides being servicable, I’d jump on them. But AFAIK, there aren’t any. The best I can find are used tools, which at least won’t create new pollution when manufactured. And sometimes they have aluminum or steel housings, which makes them more recyclable. But that isn’t a practical option a lot of times.
Eliminating plastic packaging would help, but tools also should be repairable and use recyclable and/or biodegradable components. They would be expensive, but if consumers and manufacturers had to pay the actual environmental costs associated with our current tools, those would be expensive too.
Sustainability is absolute BS & irrelevant to me. It’s just another way to keep the dogs of political correctness at bay.
Not only “No” – I will choose non-eco-friendly because I value quality over BS and I don’t have any time to invest in research if those trying to look better are compromising on quality or not.
No, I just despise clam shell.
Being green is growing your own food,never traveling ,or eating out,washing without soap just apple byproducts (vinegar),building with trees from your property.
It’s not typing this reply on “my” Samsung phone,charged by dirty electricity, having the county dump my trashcan every Thursday morning, remodeling when finishes look tired ,buying anything on-line.
Nobody on this forum is green,we enjoy new tools,and technology.
Virtual signaling is just bs.
Do we throw trash out the window as we drive around,no we don’t.
But none of us are pure as the driven snow either.
With tools, like with many other things as well, you can’t really choose between two different packaging options for the same exact product. With beer, on the other hand, you usually can!
In San Francisco, CA, where *Recology* claims to be able to reprocess very many things, I never think about packaging of a kind of beer I’m in a mood at the moment (Recology will efficiently recycle anything that can stand between me and the brew of my choosing).
In ABQ, NM, the *Waste Management* company will happily process beer cans (those will go into a green bin at home), but put bottles of any color into a trash mound (so, black bin it is). Accordingly, in New Mexico almost always I’m looking for a brew packaged in cans. And, fortunately, there are PLENTY of choices!
If possible, sure, but most of this stuff is simply bullshit. Like windmills, the efficient gains are lost by the increased effort to recycle, etc. actually produce more carbon and waste.
I’ve noticed sometimes I have the option of buying Knipex tools in a cardboard sleeve or baggie vs. a sales-rack-able plastic frame. Usually, it saves a few cents or a dollar, and so yes, I’m happy to have the tool for less and with less waste material.
Even at the same price, I would take that option because managing disposal of shipping and packaging material for all products entering my home is annoying.
No, but I’m all for companies trying to make a better product so I don’t have to throw away their junk.
99% of environment or climate friendly stuff is a hoax and snake oil. Its just like “diet” foods that are actually really bad for your health.
It is almost all marketing nonsense to get you to buy their product instead of the competition.
The only way I would care about more sustainable packaging is if the company just did it because it was the right thing to do, not so they could use it as marketing.
As someone with Indigenous heritage? The environment does actually matter to me. And I am more than a little disgusted with the mass-production of tools without material reclaimation to compensate for all the damage being done by cranking out so many iterations of the same tools, with next to no improvement.
For most companies… they are walking the line of producing quality products the customers genuinely want, creating useless copies of last-year’s ideal tool. But in between the two, there’s no mass recycling program for recovery of toxic, valuable, and immediately reusable materials.
I am very concerned about the damage the cycle will do to the planet… and I’m not satisfied with the lack of systems in place to recycle everything.
Nothing I can do about that though. But it is my disappointment on sustainability.