So, once again, a BBC news item has sparked off a Sugden rant.

How many of us I wonder, actually need the amount of packaging we get? More importantly, how many of us care? For me, there are too ways of looking at this: there is the packaging that something needs; for example to stop it from becoming damaged, stolen, dusty, touched (in the case of food), licked (food again – and possibly some technological items?), tarnished or maybe just to hide an undistinguished or ugly product. Then there is the packaging that vendors use for reasons known only to themselves!

Food packaging is improving (slowly) and things like tomatoes can once again be picked up and popped into a paper bag (by the customer) in an increasing number of supermarkets. There are still some tomatoes – an by extension other types of fresh food – that are presented to us in the same way that Apple (computers, not food) present their own wares – in designer fashioned, cushioned boxes that are worth just as much as the product. This is an affront to the environment and should be banned. The food industry hides behind ‘required legislation’ – but even this allows for some common sense.

However, my rant today is based on three purchases I have made over the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, I bought a Belkin Express Card media reader. The product itself is about 3″ long and 1.24″ wide, but the packaging it comes in is akin to a straightjacket which only real men with real tools should attempt to open. People may have lost fingers (possibly arms) attempting to open one of these rigid plastic oubliettes. Well I could call them oubliettes except there is no trapdoor or other visible means of entry to the prisoner inside. You start cutting with scissors and give up when two pairs of these have broken; you then tear at the tiny bits that have given away to the scissors and subsequently lose digits and limbs, or at the very least copious amounts of blood. Then you give up and phone a real man with real tools. I managed to complete the job with one last swing of my not-used-much-now meat cleaver. But even then, the amount of packaging inside was excessive. Why do I need instructions to put an Express Card into an Express Card slot? The only instruction required is that printed on the card itself: <- This end into PC |  This end for media ->

I had also ordered a new camera from Amazon, along with an external hard disk (with which to back up my Vista laptop – which is going back to its makers for repair). I was much happier with most of the packaging used here – mainly because I was able to open it. Nevertheless it was still excessive and sadly, mainly plastic. To be fair, Amazon’s own packaging was no more than needed – a sturdy box with crumpled up brown paper to stop movement in transit. The Amazon packaging wasn’t helped by the size of each product.  Each of these were packed in figure hugging plastic coffins. When I opened the box, my camera was presented to me on a cardboard mount – to make it look better when I opened it I suspect. But why? I already liked the look of the camera from my time online completing the purchase. Why do the manufacturers not think ‘he/she knows what it looks like, he/she knows what he/she can do with it, why don’t we pop it into a carry case which can be used later (after all such a case is designed to protect the camera from bumps, dust and licking), pop it into a padded brown envelope and Bob’s your uncle‘. Then there wouldn’t be the need for all this packaging.

The three small items I bought would fit (unwrapped) into a pint pot – why then, do I need a wheelbarrow to dispose of the packaging?


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