10 Packaging Peeves That Are Fuelling Trash Talk

Our Trash Talk campaign has had people across the country sharing their packaging problems. The conversations we've had over the past month have covered pretty much every type of packaging that we come across in our lives.

We've covered takeaways, single-use plastics, beauty packaging, online shopping, clinical waste, on-the-go food and so much more. Excessive and unnecessary packaging can be found in every part of our routines. 

We always said that Trash Talk is a positive campaign. We're not here to brand bash. And it's been amazing to find that people have spent more time talking about how they recycle, reduce and reuse, highlighting packaging that they feel works and sharing ideas of packaging that seemingly doesn't exist yet. 

But hidden behind these solutions are the problems that need to be fixed. We thought we'd share 10 of the most popular packaging peeves that are pushing our buttons.     

1. Fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic

"Gotta love plastic packaging for naturally packaged fruit"

This has been the number one Trash Talk. It's often the case that buying fruit and vegetables is cheaper when you buy it in a plastic pack than when you buy it loose. What is with that?! 

"I wish we were rewarded for buying loose," one Trash Talker said. 


2. Online shopping 

"You don't need to repackage things twice."

Online shopping is so convenient - if you're in your house when it arrives, that is. But unwrapping your product often feels like a really boring solo game of pass the parcel. What do those little white foam balls achieve, anyway?! 

3. Takeaway sushi

"I love my lunchtime sushi! However, a discourteous negative thought always passes through my mind when I open the lush, colourful little box... "do we need a plastic tray for the plastic soya sauce bottle?"

I usually let it pass and in a rush to get back to work, deem myself powerless to the decision-making of this huge franchise that makes delicious food for me. So I become passive and disempowered.

Today, I say nay nay."

This Trash Talker pretty much said it all - and really, why do we need those little fish when we could just pour it on in store?!

sushi trash talk city girl network clarity

4. Single-use plastic cups

"I would happily use my own glass on the seafront. I had those flimsy plastic cups."

Single-use cups is a really hot debate right now all across the country. And in Trash Talk, we've been talking about various options from reusable collapsable cups, biodegradable pint glasses and a whole range of potential solutions already out there. 

But, still, grr... down with the plastic cups that flood our fields, streets, gig floors and beaches in the summer time!

5. Avocados (and other veg) with a tray AND wrapped in plastic

"Avocados were a disappointment as the packaging included a plastic tray to separate them - totally unnecessary."

We know we've already gone down the "veg wrapped in plastic" peeve, but adding in those plastic trays can make us even more irate - especially when many of them can't be recycled. 

Just sell them loose. Let them be free. Seriously.

Photography by Fanny Beckman

Photography by Fanny Beckman

6. Hummus pots

"Having to remove three different types of packaging just to dip into my hummus feels really OTT."

I think it's fair to say that most people like hummus (and other dips, for that matter) but they commonly come in a plastic tub, wrapped in plastic with a cardboard sleeve. Sure, you could make your own, but sometimes we just don't have time for that. 

So what about re-usable glass containers? Expanding the amount of refillable hummus hubs? There must be something better than peeling off that plastic seal and wondering if you can actually recycle the sleeve.  

7. Clinical packaging

"I have prefilled injection ‘pens’ which I hand in at my GP’s for disposal but what happens to them, I’ve no idea. Wish I could get my tablets in reusable bottles, too!"

When it comes to medical packaging, it's often the case that people see it as unavoidable waste - which makes total sense: without pharmaceutical knowledge, it's hard to make a judgement on whether or not packaging is protecting your medicine.

We're looking into it.

That being said, there are some packaging peeves that can - surely - be avoided. Why is there so much space between tablets? Why does a collection of tablets have to come in a plastic bag, rather than a paper one? Couldn't the bottles be reusable ones?

It's not all lost, though, ways of recycling medical waste have been shared through Trash Talk - and that's something we'll be talking about in another post. 

8. Soap wrapped in plastic - then wrapped in cardboard (which is wrapped in plastic)

"Why does a cardboard box with soap inside need to be wrapped in plastic? And why does the soap need to be wrapped in plastic, too?! I'm more likely to buy the soap that I can actually smell."

Ah, soap. So simple, yet so many options. And, like our Trash Talker said, surely all that we really care about is the smell? 

Soap dispensers have been a hot topic too, but that's for another time.

9. Plastic wrapped around beer

"My booze of choice is beer and, with the sun coming out, I've been buying cans and taking them down to the beach/to a friends garden. And I find it really annoying that most groups of beers come wrapped in those little bits of plastic."

Those plastic beer rings are so annoying - especially when you see the consequences it has on the world's oceans. 

It's a convenient idea for carrying your beers together, but surely solutions that people are developing, like edible and biodegradable six pack rings, are a better replacement? 

Photography by Fanny Beckman

Photography by Fanny Beckman

10. Razors

"Oh, razors. Why do I need a really sharp object to get to you?"

Razors are sharp and it's important that they're carefully protected in stores. But do they really need that "you shall not enter" sealed plastic, with a piece of cardboard inside and a razor with a plastic shield attached to it? 

Can't they be treated the same as knives or peelers and just have a small piece of plastic over the top?

There are some razor options out there with less packaging, as is the case for every packaging peeve we've noted in this post. Solutions for excessive packaging waste are coming to light, and we're excited to share the ideas that our Trash Talkers have been coming up with soon. But these are just 10 of the reasons why redesigning packaging waste is so important - for the environment, and for our sanity. 

Got a packaging peeve you want to share? There are so many ways you can...

1. In the comments

2. On your social media platform of choice using #TrashTalk

3. In our Trash Talk Facebook Group

4. All of the above - and offline, too.

Want to know a little bit more about Trash Talk?

Trash Talk started on 7th May 2018 as a week long campaign looking for solutions to the packaging waste problem, but the conversation hasn't stopped. 

We're pulling together all of the data from our volunteers, who've been collecting a week's worth of packaging, as well as the problems and solutions that people have had, and sharing our findings with key influencers and decision makers later in the year.

This campaign wouldn't be possible without our sponsors, Clarity Environmental, who help businesses to comply with environmental regulations. Their support is helping us to ensure that our voices are heard, so that Trash Talk can make a real difference.  

Words by Pippa Moyle, video by Cara Ghoshal and photography by Fanny Beckman