September 16, 2015 § 6 Comments

We need to talk about packaging, honestly. It’s beyond a joke. I feel like too much of my day is spent wrestling with, or being challenged by packaging in some way.

Consider the halcyon days of our youth, when the butcher wrapped your meat in some brown paper, or you bought a bottle of lotion straight off the shelf. It was pretty straightforward: liquid things came in bottles with a lid that screwed off, and everything else was in brown paper. It was all so beautiful and simple.

And then, one day, retailers discovered polystyrene and plastic, and the packaging world went mad.

Opening a new squeezy bottle of honey this morning took a sharp knife and a pair of pliers. I’m not even joking. Firstly, why do we even need a squeezy bottle? What’s wrong with a (100% recyclable) glass jar and a lid that screws off? I hate that bloody flip-up lid with its stingy hole and constricted access to the bottle’s contents.

And you can’t just take a new bottle of honey and flip up the lid – you have to first get rid of the tiny plastic doofadang that has to be peeled off. Except no-one in the world has the kind of fingernails that fit under the doofadang. So you have to get a knife with a really sharp point and bend the corner up, then find some needle-nosed pliers to get hold of it and pull it off. I’m not even joking.

And all I wanted was some honey with my yoghurt, that’s all. Just a spoonful or two of nature’s nectar, and preferably without any drama.

Have you bought any cosmetics recently? I picked up some moisturiser the other day and it was like playing Pass the Parcel. First, a layer of cellophane. Then I opened the cardboard box it was in. Out came some inner cardboard bits and the prize was in sight. I could see the lid of the jar!

You’d think that would be it. You would be so wrong.

There was a strip of shrink-wrapping on the join between jar and lid. And then, when I finally got the lid off, there was a plastic cover to remove. I should’ve put some music on and got one of the kids to stop it periodically so I could unwrap all the layers and make it into a game.

And another thing. Why, in the name of all that is holy, are we sealing jars on the outside with those stupid shrink-wrap seals? There is a whole industry devoted to manufacturing gadgets that make jars easier to open. Women look for strong men to marry so they’ll never have to open a jar again, for crying out loud. Some days the only thing you have to feel proud about is that you managed to open the strawberry jam without any help. Jars don’t need any more help to stay closed – what is this madness?

Then there’s the magic plastic. You know, the kind that you can’t pull open with your fingers. Only scissors can penetrate its transparent tenacity. So you snip it and magically it tears in a thousand different directions and the contents spill everywhere. What evil genius came up with that?

But I think my very favourite thing when it comes to packaging is the way the pharmaceutical industry does it. Whole boxes for a single pill. Tiny pills in the middle of massive foil squares. Five pills in a box that could hold 24 fat wax crayons – the creativity and wastefulness is something to behold.

I don’t know what the answer is, but these are the things that keep me awake at night. Or they would if I had time to sleep – I’m too busy trying to break into my yoghurt.


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§ 6 Responses to Well-packaged

  • Trishpp says:

    The more packaging there is, the more valuable it must be. What is driving me nuts these days is the size of jars where you need to be a giant to be able to get your hand around the lid to unscrew it. Maybe I am just getting old and weak.


  • Di Brown says:

    This is brilliant, laughed till I cried, then wiped my nose on my sleeve as tissues too are well packaged. The old ways were certainly friendlier to the earth and time savers for us. #GivesNostalgicSigh


  • Andrew Blaine says:

    The problem starts with the human ego. We spend our lives making everything more complicated, exclusive and difficult in an effort to boost our own importance and make us seem more practical/clever/adept or intelligent.
    You just have to think about Rugby. The original game required a person to pick up an ovoid ball and run to touch it down. Once it had been touched down then the side had the right to “try” and kick it between the uprights on the goal posts.
    Today there is an encyclopedia of rules (Law i men – the same thing but more important?) there are four referees at each important game and the whole process has been sanitised in the name of safety.
    We need t get back to basics and avoid the temptation to complicate things just because we can.
    I love your writing style and wish you a neverending supply of ideas and ink!


  • And all that packaging goes into the landfill to last a lifetime. I bought a new pair of scissors the other day and had to find a … wait for it… pair of scissors to get through the packaging!

    Liked by 1 person

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