Did you ever cut your fingers or hands opening the hard plastic shell that surrounds newly purchased kids’ toys or electronic devices or… mixed salad greens?
I cut myself twice last week – once on a party tray and once on a package of cookies! Cookies! And I’m not the only one – a quick Google search on “dangerous plastic packaging” (!) turned up innumerable blog entries from others who’ve experienced the same indignation, plus a selection of “tools” for $10 – $15 that safely cut through the stuff (some ironically packaged in rigid plastic).
“Clamshell” or “blister” packaging is used by manufacturers as a theft deterrant, a protective device and a means of making products look attractive to consumers. On the flip side it’s a growing environmental disaster: first, it’s made from petroleum and we all know the problems with that; second, the manufacturing process requires great quantities of water (it takes four bottles of water to create one bottle of water); and third, you may see the “chasing arrow” symbol on the packaging but much of it is unrecyclable, or is recycled into forms of plastic that aren’t recyclable and end up in landfills.
How do we deal with all of this frustration? Here are a six ideas I found at lighterfootsteps.com:
♦ After you’ve stopped cursing and found a Band-Aid, look for customer contact info on the packaging and write or call the manufacturer. Be polite and specific. Explain why you won’t buy their product again, and if possible, the name of a competing product you will buy.
♦ When you have a choice, buy the product with the least (or most environmentally-friendly) packaging. Manufacturers pay close attention to packaging changes and resulting sales.
♦ Recycle or creatively repurpose the plastics you buy. (I reuse plastic trays to organize small tools in the garage.)
♦ Buy in bulk. Warehouse stores manage costs by shrink-wrapping things together instead of selling separately packaged items.
♦ Buy unpackaged goods from food co-ops or local farmer’s markets.
♦ Blog about your experiences. If you don’t have a blog, send your story to OverPackaging.com.