Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

My current peeve is with excess consumer packaging. I take one Prilosec pill daily to combat acid reflux. Say I buy a box of 42 pills. The cardboard outer box contains two cardboard inner boxes, each containing 21 pills. Each inner box contains three sheets made of hard plastic, heavy paper and foil. The sheets are perforated into seven sections, each containing one pill. The theory is that I, the consumer, will open the outer box, open the inner box, pull out a sheet of pills and break apart each little pill section as needed. I will then bend down one corner of the section, tear back the foil and paper part of the section, and release the pill from its plastic bubble.

That’s the theory. In reality, it’s nearly impossible to get the paper and foil to separate from the plastic without a struggle. Now, when I buy a box of Prilosec, I immediately open the outer box and the inner boxes and take the scissors to each sheet of plasticandfoilandpaper. I cut across the edge of each little pill’s bubble, then pop out each pill and put it into a little plastic container that came with a L’Oreal hair coloring kit and held latex gloves (another example of Too Much Packaging – why did the gloves have to come in their own little plastic container? They’re latex, for cryin’ out loud).

So now I have to ask: is it necessary for the good folks at Proctor & Gamble to hermetically seal each and every little Prilosec pill? Beyond the fuss and bother of having to go through so many layers of packaging to obtain one stinkin’ pill, it’s a tremendous waste of resources. Couldn’t they just package them in a bottle? Yeah, I’d probably still have to pull off a childproof cap, break the sanitary seal and extract about a foot of cotton batting, but I’d only have to do that once per bottle. It would be easier on the environment, would probably cost one hell of a lot less than the current packaging, and save me money into the bargain.

Ah ha. Have I hit on the answer here? It costs me about thirty dollars to buy the aforesaid 42-count box of Prilosec. I have no idea what it costs the manufacturer to produce the pills but I’m guessing it’s a tiny fraction of what I pay. I’m betting the fancy packaging really doesn’t add that much to the overall cost of producing a 42-count box of Prilosec, either. What I’m thinking is that the excess packaging is designed to make me think each pill is WORTH seventy cents. It’s packaged in a plastic bubble on a sheet in a box inside another box – it MUST be precious indeed, and expensive. It’s the same with the L’Oreal haircolor product I use (and which costs me roughly twenty bucks a box). Each of its several parts (hair color, highlighter, conditioner, etc.) is packaged in plastic bottles or tubes. The disposable highlighter application brush is plastic. The latex gloves (two pairs) come in their own little plastic container. All these items are sealed inside a plastic clamshell, which in turn is contained in a cardboard box. TOO MUCH PACKAGING.

So what do I do? Unfortunately for me, Prilosec is the most effective over-the-counter medication for my particular form of acid reflux. L’Oreal’s Coleur Experte is the best at-home coloring system I’ve found. Do I suck up their overpackaging and do what I can to recycle it (like saving the cardboard for the recycle bin and using the L’Oreal glove containers as little Prilosec pillboxes)? Would writing the manufacturers have any effect? What do you think?


  1. JMahley

    I think the excess packaging is also designed to make the package BIGGER. Americans like things supersized, and it also forces the store to use more shelf space for this one product. Less room for the competitors. A teeny little bottle on the shelf would not scream BUY ME!

  2. Anonymous

    I have the same gripe. I keep a paring knife next to the Nexium to ease entry. Have a sister in Fairfax. Hope you've finished digging out before the next storm.PS Was actually searching MIG welding!

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