#354: Packaging & Cellophane

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#354: Packaging & Cellophane

As I sit here finally ripping the cellophane off some of the discs I received for Christmas, a pile of discarded shrink wrap sits before me.  I find the plastic waste problematic, but I also recognize that in today’s consumer market, you have to present your product as “brand new” or “untouched by human hands” in some way.  So they seal up every CD and DVD, ensuring that nobody got their sticky hands on the playing surface of your disc.  As an added bonus the shrink wrap protects the CD or DVD case, meaning you and only you can scuff it up yourself.

IMG_20150102_094208Part of me hates waste.  The other part (the OCD part) really enjoys ripping the shrink wrap off a brand new CD and knowing that its appearance is perfect inside.  Only I can mark it up, now.  Same goes with toys, appliances, tools…we all want everything to be brand-spanking-new when we open them, when possible.  We want to be the ones to rip the protective plastic film off that new TV.  We want to be the ones who carefully remove our new laptops from the layers of packaging protecting them.

This seems to be especially important when giving gifts.  When you’re giving something to a loved one, you want everything about it to be perfect as possible, from the box to the product, right?  In cases like this, we tend to look at the layers of wasteful packaging as a necessary evil.  You probably recycle and re-use as much as possible, but we all throw a whole lot of packaging straight into the garbage bin whenever we open something new.

IMG_20150102_094112I’ll give you an example from the Record Store days, just how some people value packaging over waste when gift giving.  We used to offer a shrink wrap service.  I don’t remember what we charged.  If you wanted to buy a used CD and shrink wrap it in order to hide the fact that you were buying a used CD, we’d do it for 25 cents or 75 cents or something.  It might shock you how many times I heard variations of the question, “This is a gift.  Can you shrink wrap it for me?”

“Is there a way to put plastic on this so he doesn’t know it’s a used CD?”

“I don’t want her to know this is used.  Do you have a shrink wrapping machine or something like that?”

And so on and so forth.  There was a demand (clearly) so we offered it.

I found a better use for the shrink wrap machine.  When I happened upon a rare digipack version of a CD, or something with fragile packaging, I would reseal it, to protect it.  You’d be amazed how much you can wreck a CD case just from normal shelf wear.  If it’s something which has value in its packaging, then you want to prevent that.  I had (and later sold at a profit) a rare copy of The Black Crowes’ Amorica album.  This had the “x-rated” cover on a good condition digipack.  To prevent it from getting scuffed or damaged and losing value, I resealed it.   When I later got the Sho’ Nuff box set, I sold it for like $20.

IMG_20150102_093955You know those burgundy and yellow jewel cases that came with Kiss’ You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best CD?  Another prime candidate for resealing (though you will still have to be careful you don’t crack the plastic)!

Some of my co-workers were known to reseal their hands.  I do not know why.  I did not partake in that ritual.

My quandary can be summed up as this:  I like packaging to a certain degree.  I hate the waste aspect of it, and the environmental impact.  In my own life I try to reduce waste as much as possible.  But I can’t get around my preference to tear open the shrink wrap on a brand new virgin CD and be the first to touch it with bare hands.

What is the compromise?  I don’t know.

I don’t think there is a compromise.  I don’t think wasteful packaging is a sustainable practice.  I think, sooner or later, we all are going to have to get used to shedding layers of waste in our future.

24 comments

  1. Pain In The Ass comes to mind when dealing with the cellophane. Sometimes it would be a chore just to get the damn shrink wrap off without cracking the plastic like you mentioned….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Another reason they wrap things in plastic – theft prevention.

    With two kids (5 and 3) we’re always amazed at the amount of packaging on kids toys. We sat around in the aftermath at Christmas and marvelled at all the waste after the stuff was out of the boxing and wrapping and plastic and twist ties and snaps and staples and whatever else. Here we are trying to teach our kids a little environmental responsibility and then we see this glut…

    But I can’t be all high and mighty, I do enjoy knowing a CD is brand new, and even have a knife on my desk dedicated to the opening of such wrapping. Of course, I buy so much used stuff that new CDs are a bit of a rare treat for me. ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes theft prevention — good point.

      One thing I prefer to do these days, at Christmas time — use gift bags as much as possible. You can use them year after year and you generate less trash. Of course Christmas is the time of the giant trash heaps, and boxes for the recycling. You’d drive down the street, and be all like, “Oh look. Johnny got a new bike for Christmas. There’s the box.”

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      1. Yup, around here it’s all giftbags. But all the toys were in boxes with plastic windows. The contents were in plastic bags. The toys were plastic… it’s an epidemic!

        Oh man I think that all the time, people putting those Fahrenheit 451-sized TV boxes out on the curb without breaking them down first and I think “well now the robbers know where to go!”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I hate wasteful packaging. It annoys me something awful when a fairly small item comes with a much larger package with plastic and cardboard. How much extra does that cost? How much extra space? Grrrr.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with you entirely on wasteful packaging. If only I was the type of genius to be able to research and invent and entirely ethically sound, biologically based and fully biodegradeable packaging method. But I’m not, I’ll just keep on making smart-arsed comments about 80’s glam rockers who can’t fight back.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I wish there was a way to get product to consumers without all the wasteful plastic, but for CD’s, I guess it has to be that way to keep it clean. I’m very nitpicky about my CD’s and albums, and have 40-year-old albums without a scratch or smudge. My fingers do not touch the surface. I get irritated when I rent a video that locks up in the middle of the show because some idiot couldn’t take care of it properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was watching a review of some Transformers toys, and the reviewer was talking about if he should have been wearing his special gloves when playing with a certain toy that had a lot of chrome on it. I never want to be THAT extreme about it, I don’t want to wear gloves when I handle my own stuff! But I do expect it to be “brand new” when I get it, and I try to keep it as “brand new” as possible!

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  6. We had a shrinkwrapper and a laminator. The laminator was always fun because I used to laminate dead bugs we found in the back of the storeroom. I once laminated a dead moth. It was actually only mostly dead, I laminated it to help put it out of its misery. And to amuse myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hate buying electronics enveloped in that hard plastic that can cut your fingers without trying but that you can’t cut using utility scissors.
    I also hate the trend with DVDs where they shrinkwrap it in cellophane, then cover each end with stupid tape after opening. What’s the point of that?

    Liked by 1 person

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