Dear Plastic container makers
We seriously need to talk about trash. Every second day my two personed family produces a torso sized bag filled with candy wrappers, meat/fruit/vegetable plastic containers, little packets that house smaller wrapped up packets…in short, a treasure chest (or rather, torso) of the most unnecessary and useless packaging for us, the end user.
I’m sure that having the suppliers wrap their wares in several hundred layers of covering is just dreamy for the retailers who can simply throw these pretty little product housings in neat little rows on their shelves and never so much as think of the enormous amount of varying types of non-consumable rubbish we as the buyers are also purchasing. I can not even start to fathom how much is added to the cost of products of this unnecessary packaging which we almost immediately unwrap and discard as waste. In a very practical sense it makes a lot more sense as a buyer to own a range of different styled containers we can take on our shopping sprees and fill up and empty out over and over again. Whether it is a container for fluids that can be refilled or one to house the eggs, dry pasta, breakfast cereal even razor blades you purchase, this endless cycle of torso sized trash production can be brought to an immediate halt. I’m well aware of how important the packaging branding is for companies. You’re more likely to buy chicken fillets splayed over a plastic bed imprinted to look like a wooden carving board covered with warm rich images of a French country side cottage with flowing grains growing in a field in the background than a pink and green styrofoam bowl with a picture of a cartoon chicken in a racing car showing a thumbs up exclaiming “I’m a winner winner chicken dinner” in it’s chicken juice stained speech bubble...even if the country side cottage fillets are vastly inferior. Why else would advertisers run the same commercial throughout the four segment ad break if they didn’t think there is some secondary subconscious penetration that will happen if the person actually doesn’t switch the channel for those three minutes they’re willing to endure. Similarly, the cereal company would want us to be able to catch a glimpse of the cereal box on the refrigerator, knowing that with every unintended gander they bury their brand deeper into your subconsciousness desire registry. But this has got to stop.
It should be accepted that the receptacles that could house the products in the supermarkets would have adequate branding and offer colorful user experiences to satisfy their brand awareness targets. User interaction via their cellphones in shops will probably also play a lot bigger role in the future, and digital does seem to be plastic free, safe of course for the phone itself. If my suggestion is actualized, we’d sadly have to concede much more branding on the actual food, having your chicken fillet branded with smokey letters say, “Racing Chicken for your winner dinner!”. The solutions to dealing with the almost abusive amounts of branded packaging I suggest is most certainly far fetched and probably riddled with genuine safety concerns. Let’s however not let that cloud the vision to a problem that’s generally only been provided with the solution of giving people the option of participating in a recycling cycle. From looking at the state of our oceans, this cycle seems to peddle in all directions but forward. If I were able to take a year’s worth of plastic trash and were able to compress it into building blocks, not unlike Lego blocks, I would have been a whole extra room richer to my house. Surely a couple of our dear Scientists out there should be able configure a simple system where you can create houses, or at least the insulation to houses, with all this ‘unrealized building material’? My more far reaching suggestion, where the advertisers can retire these endless duplications of their branding in full view of the public, is to add this plastic, not only to the roads, but as roads. I’ve always felt that roads are utterly unsightly and are in much need of some character. It’s always been fascinating how discarded chewing gum thrown onto roads become little interstellar planetary diagrams once they’ve been compressed into the tar. Wouldn’t it be possible to simply compress all the wonderfully colorful packaging labels into our roads. They will convey a history of our consumerist habits, giving those artists, trapped in a life of making big corporations look harmless and their products healthy, the chance to have their work immortalized in branding collages. It’s probably not inconceivable to have the corporations pay for paving these roads, even giving them the right to rename these branded avenues. As capitalist societies we are probably not that far away from having countries renamed after the corporations whose capital strength in many cases, already out gross the local governments’. Many sporting teams and stadiums have become synonymous with brands. So believe me, cities and eventually countries are not far off. The republic of Samsung. Has a certain specificity to it. To address the rotting plastic torso in the room, yes, driving on a road that is littered with branding that will play havoc with drivers’ depth perception is probably not adding to our shared goals of decreasing the road death figures. One has to accept that human beings (certainly most of them) should never really have been given access to objects made of steel and glass that can travel at mind boggling speeds under full operational control of said humans in opposing directions. It seems inevitable that self driving vehicles will be the preferred mode of transport in the future. Making this automated journey a little bit more splashy and as I mentioned, historically accurate, is of unequivocal consequence. It doesn’t seem that retailers are actually inspired enough to stop the very needless cycle of packaging and recycling by replacing their individually wrapped products with simple distribution points where the customer supplies the reusable containment for the product. If this is the case, dear Science, at least provide us with the building plans and mechanisms that can compress our plastic into building material. And, at the very least, play a role in making the roads to our future a little bit more colorful.