Going Green

Packaging in peanuts is so passé:
modern home décor calls for modern shipping methods

My personal motto is: Why not?" said Denise Fairweather, owner of fairweather house & gallery in Seaside. After losing her Gearhart home décor store to the storm in December, she settled in a new location in Seaside with the firm decision to make some business changes.

Originally, her merchandise arrived from the vendors wrapped in plastic. For recycling aficionado Fairweather that became unbearable. She called the vendors and asked them to wrap her wares in cardboard. "Why not do it like this for me, see if it works?" she asked.

"I had another company that shipped in [Styrofoam] peanuts and I said, ‘What can you do? Are you shredding office documents?’" Soon her products came packaged in shredded paper. (One mishap didn’t deter her: Fairweather unwrapped some merchandise that came cushioned in shredded paper: confetti. One little wind and she had confetti all over the garage.)

When a shipment arrived in countless boxes within boxes, "I called my representative and I said: ‘I think I paid more for boxes than I paid for the product. I’m not going to order again if that happens.’"

Her timing was right and it wasn’t difficult to convince suppliers to change their packaging materials. Fairweather placed her first orders for the new store in mid-winter, right after the big storm — and they were big orders. In the economic slow period of January, a big order was welcome and vendors were willing to accommodate her.

"There’s a world of vendors out there," she said. With over one hundred in her store alone, she has made a significant contribution to waste reduction. So far, no vendor has asked her to pay extra for special packaging requests.

"And they liked my story, that I would come in here and really be more ‘green’," she said. But even with different timing, Fairweather thinks there is no reason why other stores couldn’t follow her model.

"All they have to do is talk to their vendors," she said. When she calls, she asks to speak to the production manager, or the supervisor. "I ask for acknowledgement on what their packing materials are."

Other changes she has made are in the products themselves.
"There’s very few manufactured pieces in the store," she said. Instead, Fairweather sells re-purposed, recycled glass work from a local artist, garden benches built from found wood by a local landscaper, and a table made from old railroad ties. Many items have their individual stories. If not from local artists, Fairweather tries to buy most of her products from West of the Rockies. "There are very few items in here that are imported from China," she said.

The customer response has been positive. "They love it," said Fairweather. "They want to know the stories."

fairweather house & gallery is located at 612 Broadway in Seaside, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information on upcoming classes that introduce the craft of "re-purposing" found items into home décor.