Packing it in - The Independent of London issues a challenge

The Independent, one of my favorite news sources, had issued a challenge to (presumably European) consumers to reduce the amount of packaging that is used in everyday products. Apparently, an unneccessarily wrapped-n-packaged "swede" (turnip) set one of the writer's environmentally-conscious heart on fire at the supermarket, and so the newspaper is proposing that consumers...what, exactly?

Well, not much, to be honest. You're supposed to write in with information about superfluous packaging, and The Independent will take the store to task, somehow.

I'm all about reducing the amount of packaging that we see on our store shelves. I purposely avoid buying fruits or veggies at Trader Joe's specifically because the apples are wrapped in cling-wrap on a sytofoam tray, which is not only stupid, but forces me into buying a "set" of apples when I should be allowed to freely pick and choose. I mean, it's fine for things like berries (you really don't want customers picking through the blackberries to find a handful of their favorites), but apples? Apples are hardy. As long as I'm not bouncing them on the floor to see how fresh they are, I feel like they can pretty much handle being handled.

Another pet peeve of mine is the packaging at Costco. Now, I know that Costco is trying to prevent stealing when they package small bottles of perfume in gigantic, injurous plastic blister packs. But considering that they force you to stop at the door while they look over your receipt, and that there is always a scary woman hovering over the cosmetics section trying to force you to try out Kirkland brand blush, you would think that that level of packaging would be unneccessary.

I'm not entirely sure that The Independent had the right idea, but I suppose that we'll eventually see if their public shaming of large supermarkets will make one iota of difference in the kinds of packaging seen on foodstuffs.

The Compact Conversion

The article reminded me that I hadn't yet posted about The Compact, a group of people who have given up purchasing anything new for a year (save food, medicine, and underwear). I had heard of them before, but just got a little refresher from my local NPR station this morning on the way to work. Apparently they get a lot of flack for being "unAmerican" from right-wingers (although I didn't come across any Googled evidence of this, and I can't think of a more conservative ideology than saving money). Anyway, Compacters are allowed to buy things, but they have to be used. So needless to say, Craigslist is probably bookmarked in many a Compacter's web browser, along with Freecycle, which I hadn't heard of until today.

It's interesting, and bothersome, to think that "buying too much" and "American" are concepts that seem to go hand in hand. I've often discussed with friends the possibility that America's economy is going to have to change very drastically in the future, since maintaining this level of growth is causing all kinds of problems, from trade deficits to personal financial crises.

I'm pondering a Compact conversion, but am not sure that I'm ready to take the leap, partly because I'm perfectly capable of blowing all of my money in antique stores and on eBay with "gently used" items. But the idea of NOT BEING ALLOWED to go to Target — well, it's simultaneously refreshing and kind of scary.

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Greg Go's picture
Greg Go

That's funny and outrageous. 

I wonder if we're all on the No Fly List for our frugal and simple living attitudes. I'm sure Will's anti-FBI post doesn't help.

We're so screwed.  Viva Canada!

Sarah Winfrey's picture

...I can't post a picture here. I have some great examples of "too much packaging" from our wedding presents (my 6'0" husband with packaging up to his knees and a huge box for 12 wine glasses).