Field of Science

Over packaging

Holiday gift giving provides lots of data points for observing packaging. Is there anything with more wasteful packaging than men's shirts?  Let's see if the packaging can be listed: an adhesive size sticker, a cardboard tag attached by a nylon anchor rope, a plastic ring around the collar, a plastic piece over the neck button, a cardboard collar insert, two pieces of tissue paper inside, a piece of cardboard inside, and three metal paper clip sort of things to keep the shirt folded. You end up having to start your own recycling center just to try on the shirt. Not all shirts came that way. A heavy-duty, out-of-doors sort of shirt from a place up in Maine, was folded nicely inside a plastic bag, and there was only one other cardboard tag attached by a piece of twine! In a women's store all the merch was neatly folded or on hangers, and without all the extras. So what is it with men's shirts? Are they supposed to look like they are starched and just back from the laundry. In the day's before stay-press fabrics, it cost 50 cents to have a shirt laundered and just have the cuffs and collar pressed. Pull over sweaters completed the subterfuge. Not everyone was unhappy about the packaging; the kitty-girls found the ribbons, tissue papers, and boxes lots of fun, especially when a new catnip, furry mouse is added. Gift beverages now almost universally come in specially made, and rather durable, gift bags, which can be saved and reused. We have probably gotten, and given, at least one of these on several occasions, and on the gift bag travels. While rather festive, it's too bad so much material gets either discarded or recycled. It was also interesting to see the surprised look on some retailers faces when you produced your own shopping bag. Grocery stores have become used to them, but not so most others places. Clearly the majority of people got and wanted those big bags provided by the retailers. The kitty-girls also like those, but some of the handles pose a choking danger and have to be cut, thereby rendering the bag rather useless from our perspective.

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