It's time for changes to toy packaging
Wrap rage-related injuries send around 6,000 to the hospital each year.
As the parent of an almost-6-year-old, there's one element of new toy purchases that has always baffled me: the packaging.
Take, for example, Barbie. It took me at least 10 minutes to get a new Barbie ready for my daughter to play with — 10 minutes spent cutting open the plastic box, untwisting the little cords holding the doll in place, unthreading this plastic thing from her hair, unwinding rubber bands seemingly randomly attached to her little plastic body … it was quite a production involving very sharp scissors and sharp plastic edges.
Packaging is frustrating to the point that Consumer Reports gives out an Oyster Award for the most difficult packaging.
And, according to Time magazine, around 6,000 people annually wind up in U.S. emergency rooms due to injuries sustained while trying to open difficult packaging.
Consumers now have a term for the frustration one feels as they fight the packaging … wrap rage, which is defined as “Extreme anger caused by product packaging that is difficult to open or manipulate,” according to wordspy.com.
So why do they uber-package all of these toys?
I did some research, and the answers were interesting.
Part of it stems from security. Manufacturers want consumers to be able to check the toy out — see what comes with it and try out the parts — but at the same time, they want to make sure it is not easily stolen, either. Most packaging does allow parents — and kids — to try it out a little without a full-on play session, and it's often so bulky with the packaging, it's hard to sneak it out of a store.
Another reason is shipping. Manufacturers want to make sure all of those Barbies sitting on the shelf look identical to one another. But during the shipping process, the little pieces-parts can shift, so manufacturers up the ante on the packaging, ensuring that no matter how long the journey, each of those Barbies looks clone-like.
In theory, manufacturers could save themselves bunches of money by eliminating the bulky packaging. And, at the same time, they would do the planet a big favor by keeping all the unnecessary trash out of the landfill.
Online retailer Amazon is making strides in this direction, offering items in what they call “frustration-free packaging” — simple cardboard which opens easily and then can be recycled. According to an FAQ on Amazon's website, they work with manufacturers to box products like this right off the assembly line, drastically reducing both the packaging and the wrap rage. Over 70,000 products are available.
It's time other businesses consider changes to make packaging both easier on the consumer and environmentally friendly. Think of the joy of both parents and children in the midst of opening gifts if they didn't need sharp implements to get to the fun within. I think it would be a Christmas miracle.
Roxanne Molenar, currently assignments editor for the Yuma Sun, will become editor at the end of the year. Her telephone number is 539-6862 and her email address is email@example.com.