Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Culture of Rip-off

Why are most packages of food we buy only half-full?

I'm not saying that cereal boxes should be so jam-packed that they'd explode like a box filled with gag spring-snakes if they fall to the floor. I am, however, sick of this "hocus pocus" packaging where I buy a box of cereal that's X size, only to find a bag within it filled half-way with the actual cereal. It's not that I believe I've been overcharged; the cereal box has a weight stamped on the front, and I'm paying for that. I'm talking about the psychological effect of buying a bag of Doritos, opening the thing, and seeing it's only half-full.

I think that would be a pretty easy eco-solution right there to stop wasting energy and resources on extra, unnecessary packaging. Product packaging should fit its contents, with a spread of no more than five percent in the case of bags of chips, and the like. When it comes to more sturdy packaging, the spread should be no more than one percent.

I bought some protein powder mix because I wanted more protein in my diet, but didn't want to eat more meat. The smallest thing I could buy was an industrial-sized bomb-like container of the stuff. I got it home and was mystified to see that it was barely half-full.

Is all that excess empty space there in the event the customer happens to drive their car into a body of water, and might last a few minutes longer by breathing the spare Dorita oxygen from the bag? Or by pricking the seal in the top of the protein powder, and breathing in its excess air? I can see some poor sap pulled from a river after driving his car off a causeway, and while he's still dripping, saying to a probing news camera, "I never would have made it if it hadn't been for the extra oxygen that came with my granola cereal. I owe my life to Post!"

That might be an interesting experiment: Take a corporate executive from one of these food companies, and see how long he could last under water on the excess air found within a week's worth of groceries for a family of four. We would, of course, have the git floating in the tank dressed in his business suit. He'd be given an eye-glasses screwdriver with which to puncture the packaging, and then we'd watch him suck all of that "good corporate citizen" oxygen right from the packaging. I'd watch that on Oprah.

Makers of ground coffee are the only ones who get it right. I open a new can of coffee and I'm completely satisfied with how full it is. So, there is a precedent. This can be done.

It's all part of the culture of rip-off: people have been conditioned to expect less for more. You'd never know that by the execrable advertisements that bombard us every hour of the day. To go by those works of science fiction, you'd think all businesses operate at a loss, and areound simply due to their love for the brotherhood of humankind.

Consumers should demand "actual packaging": packaging that actually fits what they're buying. I'm tired of being conditioned to feel that getting ripped off is OK.

1 comment:

PurpleSquirrel said...

Couldn't agree more! Mind you I liked your theory on if your car plunged and the possibility of breathing the Dorito oxygen. Diminished expectations, its really all we know.