I’m unpacking from a recent trip when a call comes from my host: “You left your toiletries bag,” she says. Those five words strike dread in the heart of any woman of a certain age. What about my regenerating cream? My warm glow blush? My super blendable liquid foundation, my tweezers nestled in their box with the built-in magnifying mirror!!!
Suffice to say I am in the drugstore early the next morning to replace what has been temporarily lost. When one purchases a dozen toiletry items, it is glaringly apparent that they’re packaged like plutonium, or soft-core porn in an airport newsstand: impervious to opening by human hands. What in the world are the makers protecting? Me or the brow plumper?
When I get home, I find that every item is shrink-wrapped, triple-plasticized, clam-shelled and hot-melted; the mascara is in a container so impenetrable a sharp knife cannot puncture its surface. It’s as if the items I have purchased are for display only, like museum pieces in hermetically sealed time capsules. I use my teeth, a stray nail, an ice pick and a carpet knife to little avail, thinking, “Even monkeys can use rock tools with better results . . .” At some point I am actually bleeding and whimpering, and I just don’t care if my face is micro-refined or not.
Wrap Rage is the common name for what I am feeling: frustration and anger resulting from my complete inability to unearth anything I have purchased. I am not alone. In a survey conducted by the Cox School of Business, almost eighty percent of households express “anger, frustration and outright rage” with plastic packaging.
Why has this phenomenon occurred? Why do manufacturers seem reluctant to change even with the resounding environmental impact and societal fury? As a friend of mine used to say when caught with his hand in the proverbial change jar, “There are no excuses, only reasons.” Some packaging is regulated, such as over the counter drugs or items which must be child-proofed; some is intentionally difficult to open, to reduce shoplifting, pilferage and tampering; and some containers are designed for protection in shipping. Aesthetics is also a key factor in product packaging, and it’s the reason for the double whammy of excessive cardboard fillers and props. No manufacturing company worth its salt wants to see the depilatory cream they are pitching looking powerless and crooked in its box, or worse – settled with the label obscured.
Studies abound regarding the perils of attempting to open containers with found objects such as steak knives, razor blades or hatchets. The Daily Mail reports two-thirds of all Brits have fallen victim to injury due to Wrap Rage. The Institute for Good Medicine says seventeen percent of all adults over the age of eighteen report they have sustained injuries opening holiday or birthday gifts. The most common injuries reported are cut finger, cut hand, sprained wrist, bruised hand and strained shoulder muscles. But I bet there are unreported popped, porcelain laminate incidents, and makeshift shiv fatalities.
I head to the hardware store to find the ultimate package-opening apparatus, because I know someone must have thought to produce one, given all the Wrap Rage brouhaha. I find several tools which look like gardening shears, but with a multitude of functions designed to open any package, anywhere.
The problem is that the package-opening tool I choose is housed in an impossible to open package, and I need the tool to open it . . .
Written by Marilyn Spiller