The Huge Damage Done by Overpackaging

I was reading this thread and decided that it would be nice to identify overpackaged goods in order to boycott them.

Some examples include:[ul][li] Juice Boxes:[/li]
I’m sure many mothers will want to murder me in my sleep for suggesting that these little drink containers are not the Godsend they appear to be. These things are cello wrapped, include a separately wrapped straw and cannot be recycled due to the foil interlayer in the container. That’s at least four pieces of waste created by using a single product; The juice box, the straw and two wrappers (we’ll omit the resulting urine for the sake of brevity). I cannot buy these things in good conscience, it just confounds my sensibilities.

[li] Old CDs:[/li]
Fortunately, the recording industry has cleaned up their act (as it were) concerning this product. Remember when CDs first came out? They were packaged on these ginormous cards that could be held in regular LP record bins. I seem to recall cassette tapes being packaged in a similar fashion for a while as well.

[li] Guitar Strings:[/li]
I know it sounds strange, but guitar strings come individually wrapped in separate paper envelopes that are congregated into another single printed paper wrapper and then inserted into a clear plastic hanger package. For a set of strings, you have a total of eight wrappers. DiAddario deserves kudos for instituting a return program whereby customers can send in the entire bundle of string packaging materials and get free T-shirts or other promotional products. I think this is very responsible.

[li] Hardware:[/li]
In the name of convenience, we no longer have barrels of nails or screws to pick what we need from. Instead, every lot of five comes in its own little plastic bag. This is really sad to see as it is a gigantic waste of resources. Sure, it keeps the parts count accurate but the packaging adds up pretty fast when you multiply it by all of the hardware store out there.[/ul]
At this point, I’d like to praise one organization. IKEA seems to have done a lot of homework when it comes to avoiding excessive packing materials.

I suppose it would be worth mentioning product packaging that creates large scale environmental damage or poses a threat to wildlife. We all know about six-pack elastic rings and the way that they can entrap seabirds. How many people know that Yoplait yoghourt (in the little inverted cone shaped) containers are also skunk killers? The package size is exactly the right shape to fit snugly over a skunk’s head. Many of them starve to death or wander into traffic because they are hooded by these plastic containers. Yoplait has been made aware of the harm to animals and refuses to reengineer their product. I find that worthy of a boycott in my book.

Another huge problem are the Styrofoam plastic packing peanuts. It is now impossible to go anywhere on earth and not see these ubiquitous packaging shock absorbers floating in the water. Scientists in Antarctica have reported seeing them in the oceans there. New biodegradable packing peanuts are on the market, but the damage has already been done.

I do my best to reuse everyday packaging. Whether it be writing grocery lists on the back of old junk mail envelopes or storing food in my left over plastic produce sacks. I save all of my paper shopping bags and wash out empty Mayonnaise jars for food storage as well. I’d like to see others at the SDMB post their favorite (or not so favorite) examples of wasteful packaging and nominate some green candidates too. I’m hoping we could all begin to avoid patronizing the more flagrant offenders.

Plastic tampons. What princess is so damn sticky inside that she has to use plastic applicator tampons instead of using the fingers G-d gave her and o.b., the no-applicator alternative? The keeper is an even less wasteful alternative. But I hate all the g’damn plastic and wasteful packaging of some of the tampon and menstrual pad companies–like individually wrapped pantiliners and pads, and the plastic strips which cover the adhesive, for the center, and the wings… No one who buys such things recycles these pieces. In fact, some women seem to enjoy decorating public bathrooms with these artifacts of menses…but this isn’t the pit and I digress.

Cereal–why can’t all cereal come in potato-chip bag like containers, not just the generic stuff? 'Course, the cardboard is easy to recycle and almost every box you pick up has some recycled content in it already, so that’s sort of a stretch in the “righteous indignation” category.

Not about over-packaging, but more to do with the danger to wild animals. I always take the lid off tin-cans entirely after a teacher described what it would be like if a fox poked his snout down into the can if the lid was still partly attached. Ouch!

It’s less messy. There isn’t a chance in hell I’d use non-applicator tampons.

Can’t wash your hands, dearie?

I don’t decorate any public (or private) restroom with the detrius of my period. I find the appropriate receptacles for all my trash.

Not all periods are the same. Some women flow more than others. You can wash your hands ONCE YOU GET TO A SINK! But what if you are trapped in a tiny stall trying to redress yourself and get out of the stall and to the sink leaving bloodstains everywhere because you couldn’t effectively clean your hands with the one molecule thick toilet paper in the stall? I’d rather use an applicator!

And those individually wrapped pads are necessary if you use pads and ever want to leave your home. Put an unwrapped pad in a purse or your back pocket for a day and then go about your life… It will be a shredded mess or will have lost the little tabs that cover the stickies that will now be covered with lint instead.

I do agree that juice boxes are a waste… buy a bottle of juice and use sport bottles for travel or lunches!

Our hardware store still sells screws individually but I have seen that 5 in a baggy method in other places.

I recycle what my town will take and it really bothers me that they take so little! Our old town recycled almost everything and this place recycles almost nothing and makes you jumo through hoops to do so.

Computer software is another wastrel when it comes to packaging. It is a CD AND A BOOK people! The boxes are huge and are almost completely empty.

Anyone who’s been to Japan will understand this: someone needs to get Japanese manufacturers to hold back on the packaging. Go to a store. Buy a bag of candy (or chilli-flavored dried squid pieces, mmmm!). The sales assistant will wrap it for you and put it in a bag. The candy comes inside a plastic bag. Inside the bag is another lining bag. Inside this there’s a plastic tray. Inside the plastic tray are individually wrapped candies. Sometimes the candies themselves will be encircled with paper inside the cellophane wrappers. After you’ve eaten it, have a huge pile of useless wrapping material, that goes into a landfill because most of it isn’t biodegradable. The reason? It sells better*, for cultural reasons. On the whole, Japanese people like packaging, and they also like the implications of hygiene that it brings.

*This is why the free market occasionally needs to be subject to legislation, IMO.

I can’t get my fingers up there at the right angle to do the job, that’s why. I’ve tried. I adore the OBs with applicators, but I just can’t handle the ones without.

Also, until they install sinks in all public bathroom stalls, those things ARE messy. I avoid tampons during the day largely because of this.

I didn’t find it so, back when I actually had a use for tampons. I found the no-applicator tampons to be easier to position correctly, and they didn’t pinch. However, all women are different.

The individually wrapped pads and liners do have some use…one can wrap the used pad or liner with the wrapping of the old one, instead of using toilet tissue. And yes, those things DO need to be wrapped.

My husband and daughter think I’m a bit…eccentric…because I will reuse mayo jars. However, it’s worth all the snickers when one or the other of them informs me (with a horrified look) that a glass container is selling for Big Bucks at the local discount place. THEN they understand. It’s not just mayo jars, either, I scrutinize ALL containers for reuse before I will consider throwing them away. I’m afraid that pickle jars, despite their nice size and shape, always seem to smell of pickles. I was quite resentful that peanut butter manufacturers switched to plastic jars. I can understand the safety considerations…but glass peanut butter jars were ever so nice!

I refuse to throw away packing peanuts. I always reuse them, sooner or later. I am given to understand that they lose their usefulness after being reused a few times, but since everyone else sends me NEW peanuts, I do my best to reuse them.

I cut up junk mail, if the back of the letter is blank, and use it for scratch paper. We haven’t had to buy scratch paper in ages. I admit to using those return address stickers that the various charities send out, too, even if I don’t contribute to the charity. The stickers are of no use to anyone else, and I don’t like to waste them.

We have a variety of string, canvas, and insulated bags for shopping, particularly grocery shopping. It’s amazing how much this has reduced the clutter in our house just by using those bags.

We are slowly building up a collection of gift boxes, bags, and tins that we reuse for gifts. Some things simply do not fit in an old box, and so we still wrap them, but on the whole, it’s nice to fold up the box after opening it and removing the present. It’s also fun to arrange various gifts in a basket. It’s even nicer that we don’t have to fill up a garbage sack with discarded wrapping paper. I keep meaning to sew up some gift bags from colorful fabric. Maybe I’ll get around to it after my current projects.

My grandparents grew up during the Depression, and I lived with them for a while. I learned a lot about making do. This was very helpful during the first years of my marriage, and even now I get a glow of satisfaction at saving money and resources. I enjoy spending money as much as the next person, but I figure when I save money on things that don’t particularly give me pleasure, that means that I have more money to spend on things that do give me pleasure.

I’m afraid that I don’t recycle the waxed paper inside cereal boxes. I do have a few cereal boxes, flattened, for when I want some “scrap” cardboard (by scrap I mean that the appearance doesn’t matter much).

I have gone to the extent of making paper beads from catalogs. They actually look pretty nice, and are quite decorative as garlands on Christmas trees, for example. They also make pretty interesting beaded curtains, though I’ve found that I need a weight at the bottom of each strand to make it hang properly.

I enjoy scented candles. Usually there’s some wax left over. The jumbo candles, particularly, will burn down in the middle and leave a ring of unburned wax that has never even been melted by the candle flame. I place one of those emergency plain white candles in a jar, surround it with small chunks of scented, colored wax from the fancy candle, and burn it that way.

Unfortunately, a lot of packaging is due to security. I had a boss who would wander into a hardware store, take however many nails/screws/whatever she wanted, and then secret them in her purse. She felt that she wasn’t really stealing that much. This same boss would buy something like batteries, swap the old ones into the old package, and then return the dead batteries to the store. This is one of the reasons why so many manufacturers have gone to the impregnable packaging we see so much of these days.

I’m an applicator gal myself – but the cardboard, flushable ones work fine. They even make them with the rounded tip now, for thems as needs them.

ICK! The very thought of blodd on a bathromm stall door handle or sink! That is disgusting…and I’m a guy. I hate public restrooms with a passion. Even when some dumbass DIDN’T get his jollies by pissing on the seat. I wish they all had infrared-operated flushers, sinks, and DOORS. What is the point of washing up when other people didn;'t then used their filthy hands to open the door. For the love of God, at the very least put the hinges on the outside so we can push it open with our butt. A foot-operated door opener would be nice too. As ot is, I take extra towels and open the door with them, then toos 'em in the floor.

Egad, just the thought of encouraging women to use their hands for tampons in a public restroom.

I learned to make hand dipped candles because of this. I HATE wasting ANYTHING and this is not only economic but it’s fun too! :slight_smile:
I even taught myself to make bread because I hate the bags the store bought bread comes in. :cool:

Did you know you can recycle jeans?

I saw yet another case of overpackaging in a commercial the other day that just about set me off enough to start a thread similar to this. See kids, procrastination pays off! q;}


Approximately 3/4 of an ounce of cream cheese. In a plastic ‘tub’ with a foil-and-paper lid to be peeled off. A small plastic spoon. A single sliced bagel. A big-ass plastic multi-compartment tray to hold the aforementioned single bagel, small tub of cream cheese, and spoon, with a clear plastic cover to keep it all fresh. AND a cardboard ‘label’ around the whole thing.

All for a bagel and cream cheese.

Not to get off on a rant here, but… What the HELL happened to the reduced-packaging concept? I distinctly remember a period of, well, maybe a year or so, when seemingly all the major manufacturers were saying they were going to stop wasting so much packaging. Now it’s totally the opposite! They seem to ENJOY finding new layers of non-biodegradable packaging to give us, and even smaller and more useless items to package in them! Grrrrrrr!!!

Have you tried scrubbing them with baking soda?

They should have biodegradable packaging that melted on the exact date that its contents expired. I’m sure some boffin could figure this out with a bit of backing.

One thing that annoys me is the plastic cups at the water cooler - one drink and toss 'em! I really hope they re-use the big containers though.

I am reminded of a “scientific discovery” about plastic water bottles leaking harmful chemicals if they were re-filled. Not to mention the numerous articles about how our drinking water sucks (UK). Even now Volvic bottles bear the mysterious advice; “do not refill”.

Its quite clearly an evil marketing ploy to keep people buying more bottled water. Oh well at least they are recyclable…

Also paper towels to dry hands in public toilets… Why oh why can’t they use hot-air driers?

I really wish I could think of a few green examples, but theres none that come to mind…

Lunchables are insane. I think there’s more packaging than actual food in those!

Also about a year or so ago they had these packs of single serving cereal boxed with a single serving of milk, for people who had kids that were somehow incapable of putting cereal into a bowl and then putting milk on it. (I think I was “making” my own cereal by the age of three!) Thank god they never caught on, I haven’t seen them since.

Re: Bloody hands in the public restrooms. Haven’t you guys ever heard of “moist towelettes?” I stock up when I visit the casinos. :wink: (Of course there’s the excess packaging of individual towelettes, oh well.)

I’m still amazed to see software sold in giant “cereal boxes”. Most of the software I’ve looked at don’t even include hard copy manuals anymore. So why the huge boxes? All you get is the CD-ROM in a jewel case, a few coupons, and a warrant/registration card. Why not shrink-wrap the aforementioned to a hard plastic card the same size as the box. The manufacturers could put quick start guides on the front and back. That way, the only waste product would be the plastic wrap.

I’ve noticed that quite a few game manufacturers have gone to the smaller boxes.

Disney’s got DVDs that turn black and stop playing after 24 hours, or some other short period. You have a good point.

I used to go to a gym (hard to believe, if you saw me now) where they used paper cups, but provided markers for people to put their initials on cups, set them aside, then re-use them. Nice idea, I thought.

I have several things in my cupboard that expired that I haven’t gotten around to throwing away. With packaging like that, my shelves would have large piles of expired Bisquick and cake mix on them!

Because people don’t like standing around in a smelly bathroom waiting for their hands to dry.