Monday, October 18, 2010

Ridiculous packaging

Pet peeve time.

I don't believe I have a lot in common with your average "green" tree-hugging liberal.  But there IS one thing about which I agree with them: their gripe against excessive packaging on everyday items.

This week we received two packages of pre-cooked bacon from our local food drive.  ( As I've explained before, we're one of the "cleanup" families for the food distribution. If they have leftovers, they call us.)  Anyway, we received two boxes of Oscar Mayer "100% real" bacon.

I was making biscuits and gravy for breakfast the other morning, so I decided to open up a box of this pre-packaged stuff to add to the gravy.

There were 12 small slices of bacon in this box, layered with waxed paper.  Needless to say, the real item didn't have even a fraction of the heartiness and volume promised on the cover photo.  Whatever.

For twelve small slices (barely enough to flavor the gravy, by the way), I had to contend with a box, the waxed paper, and the plastic container and lid.

I burned the box and paper in our woodstove (our standard procedure for all burnable garbage during cooler months), but this plastic container and lid remain.  I've put them in the recycling bag in hopes our limited recycling options in Coeur d'Alene can handle the weird #7 plastic from which this packaging was made.  If they can't, into the trash it goes.

C'mon, folks - is it really necessary to have this level of packaging on twelve little bitty slices of pre-cooked bacon?  Don't get me wrong, the bacon was fine; but remember, it was given to us.  Who in their right mind would actually buy this stuff?  There's no way I would ever spend money on this kind of thing because it bugs me when something so ephemeral has so much packaging - which, incidentally, will last, oh, thousands of years.

Needless to say, this is the most minor of examples about ridiculous product packaging.  We are such a throwaway society that sometimes it sickens me.

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now.


  1. you are right patrice about all the excessive is crazy. of course there is another way to think about it...without it there would probably be a few more million people out of work. i saw a good one in the news the other day..about bedbugs...the article recommended that if you buy clothing (be it from thrift shop or a top of the line department store, you need to wash or at least put it in a hot dryer for about twenty min. to kill bedbugs..seems that the bugs are coming over with goods from other countries. i guess that is what we get when we send jobs overseas for cheap labor we get back cheap goods and a bug epidemic!

  2. Patrice, don't you DARE get off your soapbox! You're right, there's far too much packaging going into the groceries and other items that are sold nowadays. We try to buy products with as little packaging as we can. Which means when we shop for groceries, we try to buy UNprocessed foods whenever possible. When you buy already cooked bacon, for instance, you lose the bacon fat that can be used in so many other ways. Bacon fat not good for us? We use it sparingly, just to flavor certain things. Besides, how good for us is all that processed food? "They" want us to buy everything already put together, as well as baked or cooked! Too many people rely on processed foods because they're quick and easy. Nuts on that. We make our food from scratch, including pies, cookies, cakes, etc. We're tired of everything being done for us! Besides, home-cooked tastes SO much better!

  3. This may seem pathetic but I wonder if some of the oversizing in packaging is so that it is harder for your typical shoplifter to hide it in their pocket. Just a thought!
    I also want to let you know that I have fun reading your posts!
    I am also an Idaho housewife who is trying her hand at homeschooling two of her kids this year. So far so good!

  4. The other day I was shopping in my favorite supermarket when I noticed one of the store employees wheeling a basket of partially opened packages into the back of the store. This particular employee often greets me by name, and I her, so we exchanged "hellos" and then I asked what she was doing.

    She explained that every day the store has to inspect certain sections of their inventory to remove all packages that have been tampered with. She says every day they find boxes, bags, jars and bottles that have been opened, partially consumed, and replaced on the shelves. Who's doing this? Homeless people who are unwilling to go to the local food bank or soup kitchen for their meals and instead use the supermarkets as their pantry. Pre-teens who dare each other to do such things. And drug addicts and alcoholics (many of whom are homeless and some of whom are living in Section 8 housing).

    It's a disgusting practice and it costs the store (and therefore its customers) hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. And that's just one store!

    Remember the Tylenol tampering of several decades ago? I do! People died when some bottles of the pain reliever were opened, poisoned, and resealed.

    Although I thoroughly understand your feelings about the seemingly excessive packaging of some products, I do understand why manufacturers do it. It's not just with food items, either. The last time I bought a couple of binding straps (tie-down straps) from Cabela's (Post Falls, ID - yippee), I had a devil of a time getting them out of their packaging. Ultimately, I had to use a pair of tin snips to cut throough the strong plastic package. I only hope the straps are as strong as that plastic was!

    So, we have a conundrum. Do we package lightly and thereby invite more theft and possible tampering. Or do we package things securely in the hope that tragedies and lost revenue can be avoided?

    The best solution would be to have a population of honest, law-abiding citizens who would never think of stealing or tampering with store products. That, sadly, is an impossibility as long as people lack self-respect and respect for others.

    Anonymous Patriot

  5. Packaging is the main reason I can not take tree huggers seriously.

    I didn't know that about about bedbugs, Anon #1. We are having a real problem with stink bugs in my area. They came over from China. Gotta love Walmart.

  6. Ditto Anonymous 9:46! I'm right there with ya!
    The more packaging there is, the more they pass on the cost to the consumer. Not to mention when you pay for name brand items. That's why I try to find the generic brands - it costs less per oz and is the same thing.

  7. Many, many times the packaging costs more than the contents. This is a way of getting more money for the product than it's worth. It's called Corporate Greed. We are only the cash cow of the rich and famous.

  8. This is one of the many reasons I've started sourcing stuff local. Getting our first full hog from the butcher right before Thanksgiving. Less food miles traveled is not only better to reduce fossil fuels, but think of all the taxes the government is not getting!

  9. I think that sometimes the excessive packaging is to disguise how much product you are actually receiving. Same as when the price and package stays the same but there is less product that before.