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Have you ever considered what impact your gaming has on the environment? Don’t get me wrong. I’m no “Greenie”. I personally disagree with the Emission Trading Scheme (won’t make a jot of difference), and think Earth Hour is a waste of time. But I do recycle, and do make modest efforts to minimise waste and my “environmental footprint”.

So when I opened the 1500 Microsoft Points for Xbox LIVE that I purchased at a retail store, I was a little irked by the continued wasteful packaging that has plagued the Xbox 360 from the outset.

We are talking about a paper card the size of a credit card. Great that Microsoft is now using a glossy but paper based card instead of the plastic cards used in the past. But does it really need all this packaging to “protect” it on it’s transit from the Microsoft Points factory?

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I’m a big fan of protective packaging because I know how rough the international ride can be, but this is overkill even to me. It isn’t however the worst example of Xbox 360 accessory packaging. Over the years I’ve collected more than a few Xbox 360 accessories, and have never been impressed with the blister packs that have been employed:

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One of the defences often used for blister packaging is that it helps “loss minimisation” – ie. instore theft. There are however other ways around this problem, and use of paper packaging has always been the norm for Nintendo. More recent PlayStation accessories are now using paper packaging again, and Xbox 360 to their credit now have hybrid paper/plastic packaging, so hopefully this is a trend that continues.

Aside from the materials used, the compactness of the retail packaging also plays a part. Take a look at Apple’s example:

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The more compact the package, the more units that can be shipped in the same volume, which should translate to not only reduced impact on fossil fuels, but also cheaper end user cost. So while you might not care about greenhouse gases and whether or not Global Warming is a scam, you might care about how much you end up paying for these products.

Ultimately most gamers aren’t going to be basing their purchasing decisions on whether packaging is wasteful, since you don’t have much choice when buying. It’s hard therefore to send a message to manufacturers about their good and bad packaging. But increasing awareness of these issues may hopefully exert some pressure on companies to increase their responsibility in this area. It’s good to see Microsoft already making some changes with their Xbox 360 accessory packaging, and I hope that the trend continues.

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