Remember the days when you could buy a simple cable without any packaging? Or a light bulb in a cardboard container, or nearly any other product that did not require super human strength to open?  To the surprise of most people, this scourge of “clam shell packaging”, is not only crowding landfills, clogging oceans, and wasting energy to produce, it’s also commonly VERY TOXIC!

Clam shell packaging often contains a form of PVC, which has high levels of lead and phthalates. This makes the packaging more durable, less bendy, and impossible to open. Exposure to these chemicals according to researchers can be linked to premature birth delivery, early puberty in girls, impaired sperm quality and sperm damage in men, genital defects and reduced testosterone production in boys. The clam-shell package isn’t the only place the PVC is prevalent, you know that ‘new car smell’, hate to ruin it for you but that smell is the poisonous chemical fumes put off by PVC. And that’s just one example.

The hazards don’t stop with consumers: PVC creates toxic pollution during manufacture, harming workers and local residents near PVC plants. And when we throw it away, toxins like lead and phthalates can leach into the ground and drinking water. When burned in incinerators, PVC produces dioxins and furans, chemicals that can cause cancer and considered to be among the most toxic environmental contaminants known to man. And to top it off it cannot be effectively recycled.

Now some companies are currently phasing out PVC from their clam shell packaging, including Walmart and Microsoft, and the state of California is considering a ban. We applaud that. But even if they do phase out PVC (which is far from a dream realized) they’ll replace it with PET, a chemical while better is still ecologically harmful. So how about this – why don’t we just quite it with the excessive, wasteful packaging altogether. There was a time when we did actually survive without it. With all the technology available today you’d think companies and stores could collaborate and find a non health destroying, environmentally safe way to make sure their products don’t get ripped off.

So next time your at the store looking to purchase a new set of headphones, opt for the pair in the cardboard box (like Apple sells) it’s not perfect, but at least your speaking out with your pocket book.

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Tags: Plastic in the News · What's In Your Products

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 iwriteplays // Dec 19, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    This kind of packaging has always been annoying to me, too! In addition to being toxic, I think they’re dangerous — I once gave myself a serious cut on my thumb from trying to pry the plastic open.

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