Watch what you buy online

I’VE bought a watch. Online. It came in a cardboard box, which I shall turn into a cubby house for the grandchildren. There’s even room for a stable, for the pony.

And I’m not talking about the ponies that come in a blister pack labelled ‘My Little Pony’; I’m talking about a real pony, that lives in a field and eats grass.

What is going on with the packaging used by online companies? If ever I find myself homeless I shan’t worry. I’ll buy a cheap watch. It’ll come in a cardboard box so big that I’ll have a spare room for guests, a laundry, and separate toilet and shower room. I could buy several watches; they’d all come in their own cardboard box; I’d throw away the watches, fit out the cardboard boxes as tiny homes and sell them for a significant profit.

Surely this can’t go on? How is it that when we think of ways of reducing the environmental damage we do to the planet, someone else invents a way of increasing it? Someone invents computers so we can have paperless offices – and someone else invents photocopiers so we can make copies of everything in the world including the body parts of bored office workers with too much time on their hands. Someone invents computer printers – someone else invents printer cartridges so we can fill the ground with even more plastic. We invent online shopping so we can cut out the middlemen and all the associated costs and resources – and overnight al the cardboard boxes are the size of shipping containers.

I know what the online companies will say: it’s not economical to stock boxes to cover every size of item they sell, and anyway, they’re recyclable. But economical for whom? Companies are chasing their individual economies at the cost of world resources and production excesses while the entire planet plummets into the red.

And anyway, cardboard boxes are not necessarily recyclable. I have a stack of them that would dwarf the Eiffel Tower. They don’t weather well; the mice eat them and the entire stack is in danger of collapsing and killing someone because the ones at the bottom are composting. I suppose that counts as recycling; my daughters tell me no it doesn’t; it’s just a private tip.

Not that it matters. I still have the one the watch came in. It’s sitting in the lounge room. Actually, it is the lounge room. It’s a very sturdy box. And labour saving. When I’ve filled it with old newspapers, discarded books, coffee cups and mouldy dinner plates, I’ll just chuck it out.

And order another watch.