Saturday, February 27, 2010

Get Me A Blowtorch

I don't entirely understand the need for the over-packaging of every consumer product. How much is too much and how much of it is simply cruelty?

Charlie bought himself a new Nerf dart gun the other day and it very nearly took an act of God to get the damn thing out of the taped, wired, twist-tied cardboard prison in which it was encased. All the poor kid wanted to do was shoot suction cup capped foam darts at various targets positioned strategically around the house. What we did was spend nearly a half an hour wrestling with the diabolically designed packaging and plastic coated, quintuple knotted, kryptonite enhanced titanium based twisty ties. Several expletive laced declarations, three attempts with scissors, utility knife and wire cutters and a complete shredding of the surrounding cardboard later and the dart gun was finally freed from its prison. What was the point, exactly?

I noticed, on the same trip to get the dart gun, that the "big box" stores have taken to wrapping various items in the electronics area in a spiderwebby-looking security appliance. I'm talking about things like computers, printers and, for some reason, 48 inch flat panel televisions. These aren't really items that need to be chained together for security reasons, I'd love to see the shoplifter that could stick any of these items down their pants and smuggle them out of the store. Frankly, any shoplifter that could should get whatever they're stealing just for being able to make it out the door undetected. What, honestly, is the purpose behind binding these items together? It looked like an electronics version of "The Defiant Ones", they may not like each other, but are chained to each other and must work together to survive. I would think there would be a heck of a lot more sense in locking groups of ink cartridges or other spendy but small things to something heavy and immobile. I just don't see a whole lot of people with diaper bags big enough for a flat screen TV walking around the Target store.

Another store thing that vexes me more than a little is the need for every single store's driving compulsion to put extra stickers and tags on items. Everything that they stock has a barcode already printed on the package, why the need for the store to add another? I had to buy a new stockpot to cook the fifty pounds of potatoes my beloved hauled home the other night because mine had a crack in it. My nice new granite ware pot looked so pretty but for the large sticker on the side, a simple peel should solve that, right? NOPE! I ultimately had to employ roughly 50 squirts of Goo Gone, a scrubby and my fingernails to defeat the beastly adhesive...really? You needed industrial strength sticky on the stock pot? The practice of putting stickers on the front cover of books is another that NEEDS....TO....STOP....RIGHT....NOW. I am fully aware that I am buying this book at Barnes and Noble, I saw the sign when I came in, I see your name on the bag you put my purchase in and your name is printed on the receipt you gave me after I bought the book with the sticker with your name that you put into the bag printed with your name as I stand under the sign with your name on it. Stopit! Stopit! Stopit now! I get it, I'm in a Barnes-and-freaking-Noble! However, when I get home and go to wrap this book I bought as a gift, I'm going to spend twenty minutes painstakingly peeling the damn thing off the book millimeter by millimeter in order to avoid half destroying the pretty cover. Thank you, sticker guy. Seriously, we need to get this guy another gig.

CDs used to come packaged in a huge white plastic frame that only help from above would open, this was another weapon in the battle against shoplifters. I'm guessing once everyone started stealing their music digitally, CD stealing kind of lost its luster.

My youngest son just did a paper on reducing, reusing and recycling and it made me take another look at packaging. Cereal only comes in boxes for shipping and shelving reasons, although the bagged cereals seem to ship just fine. Why do garbage bags come in a box and not a bag? Why do purses come stuffed with paper? DVD cases come wrapped in shrink wrap AND have those impossible-to-remove stickers along the seams of the case, I would think one or the other would work just swell. Most toys have an unbelievable amount of superfluous crap wrapped around them and I'll never comprehend the logic behind that. Does Dora REALLY need that much protection from Tickle Me Elmo? Are Barbie and Ken going to commit unspeakable acts in the dream house without the prodigious amount of cardboard and plastic deemed necessary to keep them apart? Will the Autobots and Decepticons REALLY destroy the store if their plastic and wire containment units are compromised? I just don't think so.

Keep your plastic and use the stickers for unwanted hair removal, I'd like my purchases naked, please.