I had a wrestling match in the kitchen this morning, but not I might add with someone resembling the Incredible Hulk. I was grappling with a plastic carton which was proving to be impossible to open. Optimistically, I had attempted to prise it apart with my fingers, followed by a futile attempt at frenzied stabbing with a pair of scissors and then hacking into it with a carving knife. This carton just wasn’t going to give up its contents. Does this sound familiar?
Is it my imagination or are we having to pit ourselves against an increasing amount of impenetrable packaging? The Australian state of Victoria hosts the Golden Dump Award for the most excessive use of packaging material. Dump by the way stands for ‘Dangerous and Useless Materials in Packaging’. My complaint isn’t just about the over use of plastic, it’s as much about the irritation of having to battle to get into it. Short, slippery pull tabs that are impossible to grab hold of, bottles hermetically sealed that even your multi-purpose Swiss army knife wouldn’t open and boxes that are virtually bullet proof. Useless packaging must be high on the causes of the increase in consumers stress levels.
Have you noticed how deceiving packaging can be? Giant size plastic containers in supermarkets hide mini portions for a premium price, that wouldn’t satisfy the hunger of a mouse. Easter eggs housed in enormous boxes usually contain a few mouthfuls of chocolate and leave us feeling cheated. Graphics on packaging are often guilty of faking proportions, leading us to believe we’ll get value for money when the reality is quite different. Surely design concepts should be developed with the end user in mind and in making the consumer feel good about buying the product. Designers should take into account that someone will actually need to open the package. We’re frustrated by packaging which doesn’t meet our needs and statistics show that 67% of consumers will choose the product with the least packaging when given a choice. Personally I don’t want to see an apple encased in a giant plastic bubble. It doesn’t need to be given room to breathe! Britain uses more packaging than anywhere else in Europe. In Switzerland and Germany customers have the option of leaving the unwanted packaging behind at the checkout, to be returned to the manufacturers. The only snag may be in removing the packaging without holding the queue up for half and hour or so!
Apart from the fact that the environment pays dearly for all this over-packaging, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of breaking and entering. Could we please have packets in proportion and that don’t take the skills of Houdini to open?