You know the feeling. You get out that new pack of oh-so-tempting biscuits, finally locate the end of the ‘pull strip’, grab it and pull – and it promptly disintegrates in your hands, along with half the contents of the packet.
Or you buy your child a new toy for a present, which they simply can’t wait to get their hands on, but you realise you need a degree, not to mention a whole tool kit, in order to remove all the wires, tags and mini-screws that are there for product presentation, as opposed to any benefit to the consumer.
OK, so this may all seem like a bit of an exaggeration, but let’s face it, a huge amount of product packaging is both frustrating to open and wasteful.
During the recent festive season I was appalled at the over-the-top packaging containing my grandson’s toys. Not only was every one of them extremely tedious to open, but the packaging comprised of a number of plastic and metal fixings that could prove rather dangerous to small children! He’s 18 months old for goodness sake, he wants toys that he can get out and enjoy with minimal fuss and certainly without a choking hazard!
And as for the boxes of chocolates and biscuits! Whilst most were quite straightforward to open, I was incensed that some manufacturers printed the ‘selection menu’ on the bottom of the pack. We were then torn between reading the selection first and trying to remember what our chosen biscuit/chocolate looked like (makes a fun memory game) or holding the box aloft and performing a minor contortion to view the pictures without spilling the whole contents of the box. What’s wrong with printing the selection on the inside of the lid or on a piece of paper inside?
When designing product packaging, companies could bear in mind the phrase ‘user-friendly’ and stop and think about the ease of opening, the ability to reseal if appropriate, recyclability of materials and practical use.
It’s great that so many manufacturers have cut down on plastics used and, in some cases, reduced the size of packaging, but could they now please think more about ease of use as opposed to products looking pretty?
Next festive season I’d like to enjoy a biscuit without performing a weird limbo dance and present my grandson with his toys without leaving a trail of plastic ties in my wake!