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‘Tis the season for plastic packaging

I think I was always meant to write about packaging. When I was a kid and Christmas morning rolled around, I loved seeing the array of wrapped packages and holiday-themed plastic bags. But once I would open the gifts, I felt as if the "magic" was gone. It wasn't that I was disappointed in the gifts; I think I just loved the idea of packaging and the mystery of what was inside.

I think I was always meant to write about packaging. When I was a kid and Christmas morning rolled around, I loved seeing the array of wrapped packages and holiday-themed plastic bags. But once I would open the gifts, I felt as if the "magic" was gone. It wasn't that I was disappointed in the gifts; I think I just loved the idea of packaging and the mystery of what was inside.

As we are currently in the midst of holiday season, it's interesting to take note of just how important packaging is this time of year. At the same time, it's hard to ignore this stat that from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, household waste increases by more than 25%, which includes added food shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons.

Still, it would be pretty difficult to shop for all the people on your list without plastic shopping bags. Also, let's not forget that packaging such as plastic bubble wrap, plastic air pillows, etc., all help people ship holiday gifts to loved ones.

Anyway, while plastic bags have gotten a negative rep as of late, the reality is that major retailers, including Walmart and Target, offer plastic drop-off bins for recycling where they collect grocery bags, retail bags, plastic air pillows and bubble wrapped used in shipping and more. So while it might seem like waste builds up during the holiday season, much of the plastic packaging is not only reusable but also recyclable.

As you continue to shop for gifts this holiday, look for products made out of recycled plastics that could include fleece jackets, handbags, winter gloves, and cutting boards. According to the ACC, it takes only eight recycled plastic bottles to create a soft, new t-shirt, and many of your plastic bags are recycled into durable lumber for backyard decks and other home projects. You should also look for gift bags and bows made from recycled plastic.

Protect yourself from packaging injury

As much we love our plastic packaging for keeping our products safe and secure, sometimes they might do too good of a job. Have you ever heard of 'wrap rage'? This is the name given to describe the high levels of anger and frustration resulting from the inability to open certain forms of packaging, which includes plastic blister packs and clamshells.

Wrap rage could be a "harmless" feeling of frustration, but there have been many documented cases of adults and children cutting themselves from scissors or other tools used to pry the package open or from sharp edges on the packaging itself.

Each year, there's an average of 6,000 people going to the emergency room due to packaging-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, a recent Consumer Reports article highlighted some of the most "frustrating" packaging that is currently on the market for consumer products.

In the article, they talked about clamshell packaging, which is designed to secure items for shipping as well as discourage theft. But this secured packaging also makes it difficult for consumers who actually bought the items. Consumer Reports said people complain they have to use scissors, box cutters, razor blades, and more just to retrieve the items they bought. 

How to avoid wrap rage? Experts say that parents should immediately discard plastic wrappings and other packaging after items are opened. Or adults can open the toys from the packaging before Christmas. They said opening the blister package ahead of time and putting the toys in a separate gift bag can help avoid the pressure of Christmas day and having your child get antsy for their gifts, which is a big driving factor of wrap rage.

As you can see for holiday season, packaging is all around and as long as you reuse, recycle and free the toys or products ahead of time, plastic packaging is not only environmentally friendly, but also a safe solution.

TAGS: Packaging
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