A Bad Wrap

Cross-posting from my latest entry on Earth Hearth in a lame attempt to appear as if I actually have the brain cells and energy to update this blog. Sigh.

Oh, and by the way: my girls are doing fabulous. Indi is trying to crawl, eating Cheerios, pointing to “eyes” on toys and humans, and doing great with gently-introduced Elimination Communication. Kaia is making up songs, experiencing the joys of interacting with her baby sister, enthralled with Polly Pocket, and loving the digging and playing outdoors in this gorgeous weather.

Back to my post…

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Anxious to try a new product for my baby, I tore into the glossy, cardboard box of rice rusks. Then I noticed I had to rip through a plastic inner packaging. Finally, I paused in head-tilting questioning as I realized that the rice rusks were wrapped yet again in individual packets.

Three layers of packaging for one product.

From boxes of diapers to ink cartridges, over-packaging is everywhere. Over-priced, over-transported, over-branded, and over-packaged. This world of extremes – of marketing “noise” – has my brain, and my wallet, begging for simplification.

Some countries are working to enact laws that would penalize offenders of over packaging. Perhaps we should make consumers responsible as well, adding a surcharge for over packaged items and foods or a discount for products purchased in bulk. Since my awareness has been raised, I’ve been more cognizant of product packaging and now notice it in abundance. Which is perhaps why a granny smith apple nestled in the palm of my hand feels so good while I stroll through grocery store aisles.

And while we are on the subject of “over-(fill in the blank)”, the over abundance of selections in products speaks to our culture’s alarming indulgence and love affair with the illusion of “choices” and “convenience”. We like to believe there is a product out there created to fulfill our own, very specific needs. We are obsessed with “individual servings” (yogurt, string cheese, crackers, raisins) which only add to the over packaging dilemma and continual piles of waste. Personally, I want nothing more than to be underwhelmed at this point, only being offered the following choices: “works well” or “totally disposable” and “good for your body” or “simply convenient”.

Never have I been so nostalgic for the few-aisled, family owned grocery stores of my youth. I recall the bulk bins of candy and nuts, which always offered the unspoken suggestion to “sample”. These were the stores which provided only a handful of options for each food item as opposed to dozens. Our parents didn’t have to stare blankly at products and decide which version they wanted: “low fat, low sodium, low sugar, low calorie, preservative-free, organic, free range, hormone-free, multi-colored, zesty, mild, sharp, +vitamins, bite-sized, on-the-go, frozen, individual servings, kid-sized, portion control, family-sized, caffeine-free, enriched, whipped, fortified, cage free, live-active cultures, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, zero trans fats, refined, unrefined, raw, pure, INJECTED INTO VEINS SINCE IT’S TASTELESS”.

Food has become bland substance instead of hearty sustenance, something to be quickly ingested instead of slowly experienced. I have fallen prey too many times to the fancy trappings of packaging and touted ease.

Which is why the Twinkie indeed deserves some sort of shout out for showing its true colors among the wannabe “health foods”. A Twinkie is plain and simple crap food. Delicious, terrible for your body, crap food. But it doesn’t try to masquerade as “better for you” by offering any version other than high fat, refined, creamy, full-on sugary goodness that most of us have come to crave and devour on road-trip pit stops (though I much prefer Chocodiles).

So amidst fighting off Twinkie cravings, these have been the topics on my mind as of late: the industry of packaging and of nourishment.

Here are links to a few ideas about what you can do to avoid over packaging, as well as a link to more information on over packaging and photos of worst offenders. Please share your ideas or experiences with this topic with me.

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8 thoughts on “A Bad Wrap

  1. Yum. Twinkie.

    I can’t believe I just said that.

    I HATE over packaging and often refuse to buy products because of that very reason. But really when you stop and think about it – you don’t really have to buy anything that is over packaged. Whatever it may be, there is probably an under packaged (or not packaged at all) counterpart. It just might not be as convenient or right there in front of you or even exactly what you are looking for but when I’m able to step back a little I always feel good about it afterwards.

  2. I am in bulk heaven. Bellingham markets offer choices in bulk for pretty much EVERYTHING. all my cleaning supplies, beauty supplies, dry goods, liquid goods (oils, butters, vinegars, syrups, etc). I am able to use the same laundry detergent container over and over. Same with my maple syrup. I feel so much lighter. ONe of the reasons I hate Trader Joe’s is that there packaging is ridiculous. As well as there importing of so many goods.

    It’s funny, in Scottsdale I never really saw how many plastics I ‘recycled’ or things I tossed away that weren’t recyclable. The city bins were HUGE, an endless pit. Lift top and dump all your shit in without thinking. Here, we have these small little bins. I think it really makes you see how much stuff you are ‘recycling.’ I don’t believe everything we put in ‘recycling’ gets recycled. And certainly all the junk we throw away ends up in the PLastic Island in the Ocean.

    All i have to say i buy in bulk. and demand your markets start a serious bulk program. There is a law being implemented here that makes it illegal for grocery stores to bag with plastic bags. That rocks. All it takes is some serious mamas threatening to boycott. 🙂

    love love love

  3. Amen sistah.

    MB, I’m jealous of your set up. I try to buy in bulk, but the container of choice is a plastic bag … boo.

    I figure mushrooms in a plastic bag is better than mushrooms in a plastic tub, though, so I try to make choices like that.

    It ain’t easy, though. Our society doesn’t make it easy at all.

  4. I am so happy to read this – you are so right on. I just addressed this on my blog; while I don’t cloth diaper, I am paying such close attention to packaging of products now. I am loathe of all the plastic and packing material used for simple items. MB, I wish I could find something like what you have – what is it exactly, a market of sorts?

    Leigh, write write write, even if its mundane! You always have magical things to say. Your girls are edibly cute, too. Love all around. XO

  5. I just bought individual boxes of raisins this week. Now … the guilt. I agree, the problem is THEY make it so much easier to buy a bunch of garbage to throw away with our products that we really have to make an effort to skirt around it. The worst thing at my house is cardboard and the big old liquid laundry detergent bottles. I hate powder detergents, they leave us rashy. I am now getting the super mega condensed bottles, but still.

    And here in Davis County, Utah, the big recycling bins are AT the city dump … does that seem suspicious to anyone else???

    Thanks for reminding me to be more aware though, maybe I’ll even set me up some official recycling bins here at home and avoid the $5/dump fee – but it’s so cheap and easy …. NOO! Must be a good steward of the Earth!

  6. Ted (the hubby) has been talking about the plastic-free lifestyle to whoever will listen. I have to admit it kinda scares me because some of the things I really love come packaged in plastic. I think we’ll need to start growing our own food. Maybe get a couple chickens and a goat like folks used to have in some of Chicago’s older neighborhoods before they got gentrified. Thanks for the tips!

  7. Individual yogurts? Guilty. String cheese? Guilty. And (GASP) bottled water? GUILTY.

    To redeem myself, somewhat: Cloth diapers, full time, all the time. And I just bought ten cloth shopping bags and have actually remembered to take and use them so far.

    Now, I want to hear about the EC you’re doing with Indi. I’ve been toying with this idea for Cameron.

  8. One more reminder that this is do-able! Enough is enough! I am really going to re-commit to less plastics, less packaging, etc. We have a good bulk mart but i don’t use it as extensively as I could, e.g. for all my cleaning products, etc. I’m going to start tomorrow! Thanks.

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