xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: Getting stuck into it

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Getting stuck into it

When I was Principal at Doubleview Primary School we used to have a “Green Lunch Day”. For the ecologically challenged reader, a "Green Lunch" is not an egg and salad sandwich that has gone mouldy. It is a lunch that involves the least possible amount of wrapping. The idea is to cut down on unnecessary packaging and litter. It worked fairly well. Our school’s usually well stocked rubbish bins were less than half full on Green Lunch days.

What we really need, however, is an angry and aggressive 'Green Lunch Brigade", similar to the noisy dissidents who appear regularly to aggressively oppose Globalisation, or almost anything involving change, to march forth into the world and put an end to the entire packaging and wrapping industry.

Just about everything we buy these days is wrapped in plastic, laminated on to cardboard, encased in bubblewrap or protected by alfoil. My daughter gave me a CD for my birthday. I haven't played it yet. I can't get it out of its plastic wrapping. Each morning I go out to get the daily paper. It comes shrouded in clear plastic. I stand in the driveway pulling it one way, tearing it another. The neighbours come out to witness this daily wrestling match, which I rarely win.

Then there DVDs that are wrapped in an indestructible material which has a little arrow helpfully suggesting to “Tear here". Well you can tear there but it won't make any darn difference. Eventually you will need to get a sharp knife or a nail file to remove the wretched stuff.

It is the same with those packages of coloured Post It sticky note pads.

“Tear Here" it says. Tear away, swear away, but you finish up tearing your hair out.

Then there are packets of noodles that also contain a sachet of flavouring.This sachet looks like it is made of alfoil, but it is actually  a form of stainless steel that defies destruction.

And when you try to put some tomato sauce on your meat pie at the football or cricket they give you a plastic bubble of it with a little note at one end saying "Lift here".

Lift away. Nothing will happen. Your thumbnail will break and you will eventually have to stab the thing with a ball point pen. The result is that you get sauce in your eye and not on the pie.

The late Ogden Nash once wrote, "You  shake and shake the ketchup bottle. None will come, and then a lot'll". I am pretty sure that even dear old Ogden would prefer to take his chances with a tomato sauce bottle than fight to the death with cast iron plastic capsules of the stuff.

If you need a battery for your torch or Walkman you cannot just go in and buy one battery. No sir. You can only get them in packages of four, six, ten, twelve or twenty. And you need a hammer and a chisel to prise them out of their laminated containers.

And that raises another important issue...multiple packaging.

It is very hard to buy only one of practically anything these days.

Batteries, clothes pegs, nails and screws are just some of the items now packaged in multiples.

I went into the liquor store the other day, for medicinal purposes only of course, and the fellow behind the counter beamed proudly and announced that I could now get my favourite medicine in a THIRTY SIX can block. 36 cans! I could hardly believe it. What is more, I could hardly lift it.

I can see that before long I will need to develop the strength of an Olympic weight lifter just to take my carton of stress relief home.

It will be a bit like the man who took a weightlifting course by correspondence. He failed the course, but his postman went on to win a gold medal for weightlifting at the Olympics.

Surely there are some civic minded activists around who will band together to fight this mania for sticking multiples of everything in indestructible wrapping.

Or maybe I will have to get a job as a Quality Control Consultant in a packaging company.

At least I could tell them where to stick it!


  1. I find children's toy packaging abominable. I guess a lot of it is to stop people stealing stuff out of the boxes, making it harder for them to get out of the shop unnoticed. But did these manufacturers ever consider the poor parents who have to get the toy out while impatient children scream at them??

  2. Quite right, Jane. I wish I'd included toy packaging in my list of gripes, but then the lovely Lesley does all of the toy purchasing in our house and we just handball them over to the children's parents. Thanks for your comment.


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