Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fashion or Function.....

I was cleaning out the cupboard in a midweek chore extravaganza. It's amazing how work can drain you of any energy that even if you have the time, you can't seem to get anything done. This blog post almost fell into that category. As I've alluded to in previous posts, I'm participate in some endurance sports. One of the joys or banes of these sports is the emphasis on gear. Not just hardware like bikes, shoes and goggles. But even food, the different energy bars, electrolyte drinks, energy goops and blocks. I try to buy my electrolyte replenishment drinks in powdered form and make my own. As I was doing my cleaning, I realized that the powder I have comes in a plastic container that's a pretty healthy size and I was thinking what can I do with this jar? There must be something I can do. To give you an idea, I converted an old gatorade powder jar into a silverware drying container by punching holes in the bottom so the silverware can stand up straight and the water can drain. Then I noticed something.

Why do I even get my drink mix in a plastic jar anyway? My sugar (as you see above) comes in a little more friendly paper bag wrapping. Most people I know put their food staples into another bin after they buy it. In fact, I might use my Gu container for my baking sugar when I'm finished. It's more rectangular so it's more efficient for transport and storage. The wrapping takes less energy to make, and less oil is used in the packaging. And it's not just Gu, Clif brands electrolyte also comes in plastic tubs.

So why do we package things in plastic when we do? I get my pasta in plastic bags or paper boxes. They both work, in fact sometimes I'll put the pasta from a plastic bag into a box to save on space.

Sometimes the packaging is as much part of the experience, but other times it just is. Drink mixes might make more sense to come in paper, not plastic. When I get a chance, I'm going to write my electrolyte vendors and ask them to consider changing their packaging. As I've said before, plastic lasts forever, so if I do need to put it in a tub, I can do it, I don't need a new tub every few weeks.

Companies are getting better with their packaging. Apple has been really good about reducing their packaging, curious to see how the new iphone is packaged. My guess is it'll be tiny.

Fashion or Function, plastic or paper. Do the two line up or are they separate?


At 6:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firstly, I did a major spring cleaning two weeks back too - thereupatic :)
Plastics in general are baaaad. The other day, T paid more because the soap was biodegradable and environmentally friendly :)

At 9:38 AM , Blogger Melissa said...

I think this is a good question...maybe there is some psychologic reason for packaging choices, like people see paper as less durable = less quality? I don't think that, but I wonder if some people would. I actually read about a guy who was reusing a sugar bag for over a year to carry his lunch in - so clearly, the paper is sturdy! Either way, I think you should send that letter!


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