Sometimes, our packaging is too good

Published 3:05 am Saturday, September 29, 2018

I bet it’s happened to you. You are eating out and you pick up a package of crackers or a tiny slip of sour cream. You struggle with opening it. Or maybe you take a container out of your refrigerator with one of those thin sheets of plastic on top. You hunt for the corner that folds back to open it. All four corners look alike. Or you purchase something encased in a heavy see-through piece of plastic. Where’s the place you grip to start removing it? Maybe you end up grabbing a knife to stab it so you can tear it open.

Great packaging, right? It is good that food is well protected to keep germs away, but I find the things I mentioned so frustrating. How about over-the-counter and prescription medicine bottles? If I get child-proof tops, I’m in trouble for sure.

A long time ago, things were simpler. When milk came in glass containers, there was a little round cardboard stopper on top with a tab on the side. You just pulled the tab to get to the milk. Then along came waxed cartons. I hated them. They were supposed to have a spout, but most of the time when I opened one, I made a mess. Milk spilled all over the place. Thank goodness, these days, the plastic cap on top comes off easily when you unwind a tab right under it.

When I reach for a plastic produce bag, it’s hard to find the right end, and a struggle to open it. If nobody’s looking, I moisten a finger to help make the bag slide open.

Packaging on lots of other things challenges me. First, I have to find out what I am supposed to do to get something open. A lot of items come in plastic bags with seals to pull apart to open and press together to close. For me, it is not so easy to get them sealed back.

Sealed jars have always been a problem for me. I finally bought a handy little kitchen tool that breaks the seal. Sometimes when I use it, I think about my previous methods to pry the top off a jelly jar or the like. Most I couldn’t open with bare hands. I tried a cloth next for better grip. When neither of them worked, I ran hot water over the top. In desperation, I put the bottle between a door and door facing. Then I pushed the door back and twisted. That usually worked okay unless I pushed too hard. Then the jar broke. What a mess.

An aggravating thing I deal with is a garage door with a sensitive “eye.” It won’t obey the remote to close if there is a leaf dangling from a spider web on the bottom of the door. It won’t stay down if it senses leaves or dirt on the floor where it lands.

Not everything works perfectly, but I am thankful for those that do.




Nina Keenam is a former newspaper reporter.