Most products cannot be sold as-is. If I want some Hamburger Helper, I can't go to the store with a scoop and just scoop some up. (At least until Winco and other grocers sell Hamburger Helper in the same way that they sell cereal and flour.) So in most cases, the product has to be placed in some type of packaging. The packaging serves two purposes - to protect the product, and to market the product. I'm not going to touch upon the marketing aspects of product packaging here, but the protection aspect is often a little askew.
When was the last time you bought an inkjet printer cartridge? Depending upon your manufacturer, you probably received some type of envelope that allowed you to recycle the old cartridge that you were replacing. Why? Because Company X is environmentally friendly, and Company X cares.
Sure they do. In order to get to the cartridge and the envelope, you usually have to go through a ton of plastic. After you get out your scissors, knife, or blowtorch and penetrate all of the layers of protective packaging, your "environmentally friendly" printer cartridge is revealed to have been surrounded by several metric tons of waste. Try taking THAT to Staples for a credit.
But this is just part of the story about protective packaging.
[A NOTE TO MY 1970S ALLERGIST, DR. SABRI. IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE READING THIS BLOG POST, PLEASE DO NOT READ THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS. I KNOW WHAT YOU TOLD US, AND I KNOW THAT YOUR ADVICE WAS SOUND. YES, I KNOW. BUT SOMETIMES A MAN'S GOTTA DO WHAT A MAN'S GOTTA DO.]
I bought some nasal spray one morning this week, after suffering with a cold for several days and having a mad desire to be able to breathe. The plan was to drive to the store, buy the nasal spray, walk to my car, use the nasal spray while in the car, and drive to work.
There was only one minor problem. When I got to the car and opened the nasal spray package, the bottle was wrapped with a chastity belt tighter than the ones that the Westboro Baptist Church teenage girls wear when they're within 10 miles of a U.S. military facility.
So I had to drive to work, hack at the bottle with my scissors for several minutes (without cutting my fingers), and then finally open the package and use the nasal spray.
What's really disturbing is that I, a reasonably healthy individual, had problems opening the nasal spray bottle. What if an 80 year old person caught the flu this winter and bought some nasal spray at the corner drug store? How long would it take that person to open the bottle?
In fact, if you have elderly relatives, you may want to give them a call today and ask them if they have any packages that they haven't been able to open. They would appreciate it.
Going to the other end of the age spectrum, this is what the Arbolog said:
Leapfrog Learn N Groove Maracas: 5 minutes. Slice through five separate pieces of transparent tape. Open box. Slide out cardboard insert. Undo four separate twist ties. Remove plastic wrapped advertising booklet. Remove plastic grommet / brackets from twist ties. Unthread twist ties from maracas. Remove small plastic tab from battery cover of toy. Turn on. Hand toy to child.
This prompted the following reaction from the author:
Jesus H Christ on a cracker.
It's enough to make you want to chew some Orbit gum to relieve your frustrations. Or perhaps not:
Yowzer...so, to recount, there's plastic, then paper, then more paper housing 14 little pieces of chewing gum. It is, by all accounts, a beautiful package. The question is, is it necessary?
Obviously I should have stuck to crackers, since that's what Jesus H Christ sits on. Well, you know where this is going:
The plastic envelope around each set of crackers is all but impossible to open cleanly, and you can forget about it being “resealable”. Once open, you have to resort to a plastic bag to prevent the crackers from going stale in a hurry.
Perhaps Tad Donaghe's beloved robots could be designed to open our packages for us. Jesus H Christ knows that we're not doing a good job at it.