Talking Trash: Plastic Packaging Nightmares

Nothing infuriates me more than packaging. Who has invented the nearly impenetrable hard plastic shell that encases countless products from tubes of lipstick to utensils, tools, beads, knobs, and scores of other products that used to require no packaging at all? Send this idiot to the guillotine. Even my multi-pack of scissors from Costco came thusly packaged. Brilliant! I bought the scissors because my old ones were not sharp enough to cut paper. So, how then to get through this plastic coating that would likely stop a bullet and once pierced has razor sharp edges that effortlessly cut through flesh?

I feel I need to blame someone for this. Who is at fault? Could the plastic packaging “geniuses” really come up with nothing better at all? Because I can’t imagine anything worse than my new kitchen “recycling station” (necessary only because I cannot go to the wine cellars with my bottles to get them refilled or buy my hardware for the latest DIY project out of bins at the store up the street, because there isn’t one, or make all my own beauty and hygiene products because I use so damn many of them) being packaged in plastic – nowadays even fruit comes packaged in plastic. Now, my DIY kitchen project, laboriously crafted to reduce our carbon footprint and reuse and recycle wherever feasible, has produced three enormous contractor-sized Hefty bags full of packaging and demolition waste.

We opted not to pay for trash service. This was not a financial decision, because the charge is only around $30 a month. It is in fact, a test. What is it like to have to deal with your own waste? While we were camping here we got used to separating, burning and composting, and hauling anything else out to the dump ourselves. We produce a fraction of the waste of the average household and even that is an exasperatingly heavy load of it.

It has gotten to be more, rather than less, difficult over the last decades to produce less waste. The culprit: packaging. To reduce packaging we can make some small choices that are effective: make iced tea at home instead of drink soda; mix juices from the frozen concentrate containers which are smaller and more disposable; cook and never eat take out or any convenience foods; use only bar soap on your hair and body; don’t use paper but don’t buy new electronics either. And even if you made every single one of these changes, your trash load would be only somewhat reduced. Because to end the packaging waste nightmare you would have to stop shopping altogether. And since we all know that is never going to happen, I suggest we all start pointing fingers.

Tune in next time when trash talk turns to the ingrained evils of the plastic bag.