Scary but true: There's a plastic mass twice as big as Texas floating off the coast of California. It's a 100 million-ton island of consumer waste–Dr. Pepper bottles, detergent containers, and plastic packaging commonly used with electronics like GPS units–all glommed together by winds and tides.
Even under the best circumstances, not all garbage gets recycled or landfilled. That's why REI has created a set of guidelines to reduce packaging. For REI's new line of multitools, for example, the company opted for a locking paperboard shell in lieu of plastic. And to keep even minimal amounts of packaging out of the ocean, REI plans to provide in-store bins so you can recycle as you walk out the door. Eric Abraham, REI's certified packaging professional (who knew?), says you have power as a shopper. "Make a stink when packaging is excessive or made from irresponsible materials," he says. "Manufacturers are listening." For more eco news, go to backpacker.com/green.