Canadian Packaging

Packaging 101 for parenthood newbies

A monthly look at some of the hits and misses in the packaging world from the viewpoint of Joe Public, Canadian Packaging magazine’s revolving columnists. From the September 2016 issue.


October 24, 2016
by Canadian Packaging staff

To call becoming a parent a life-changing experience is an understatement of understatements. Trading in high heels for flip-flops and running shoes, designer purses
for diaper bags, late-night parties for early-afternoon picnics … it’s a lot to take in all at once. Naturally, your shopping habits also go through a major revamp, with visits to Walmart, Costco and other Big Box outlets suddenly becoming a core part of the weekly routine. Because there’s really no such thing as having too many diapers, soothers, napkins or other baby essentials, Big Box packaging has become an indelible part of my domestic landscape.

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checkout-september-1It took a little trial and error at first, but I have ultimately become a big fan of Costco’s Kirkland Baby Wipes private-label brand of moistened paper tissues, with packaging playing a key role in that learning process. After getting duly frustrated with other brands unable to keep the unused wipes moist in the package with inadequate paper-based resealing stickers, I was happy to discover the green, rigid-plastic flip-flop seals incorporated into the 100-sheet soft-packs, which are then packed nine to a box of the signature Costco-sized carton. The sturdy lids effectively keep the sheets moist down to the last one, and having several portable, ready-for-action soft-packs strategically positioned around the place is a great alternative to running back to the one stationary, massive stack of packaged wipes with a screaming baby tied to your hip. Moreover, the hypoallergenic and alcohol-free wipes—claimed to be made from 100-percent renewable Tencel natural fiber—are remarkably durable and highly absorbent, never ripping or coming apart in your hand when you need them the most.

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checkout-september-2Big cheers to the iconic toymaker Mattel Inc. for coming up with a safe and innovative way to package children’s toys without the use of the much-derided plastic clamshells that so often stretch the consumers’ patience to their limit. Rather than covering the entire toy with plastic and sealing it up so tightly that you need a pair of really strong scissors to cut through—ostensibly for ‘antitheft’ reasons—Mattel has raised the bar for packaging intelligence with the brilliantly simple perforated Fisher-Price Lil’ Snoopy box that easily opens up to reveal a pullout display tray with a simple plastic screw securing the toy inside until purchase. The screw is easily removed in seconds without any tools, and there are no twist-ties or other small-sized fastening devices to worry about getting lost in the carpet and swallowed by pets. A telling statement against overpackaging, this display set is a real winner with both mom and the toddler, who just loves pulling his adorable little puppy dog with him wherever he goes.

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checkout-september-3As for overpackaging, I think Mead Jonson Nutrition may be overreaching a little bit with the new ready-to-drink bottle multipacks of the company’s renowned Enfagrow A+ nutritional formula. While the 237-ml bottles of the milk-flavored growth supplement provide great convenience by virtue of their inherent portability—making them great traveling companions—that benefit is offset by the excessive product sealing. Not only do you have to tear off the top portion of the full-bodied plastic shrinksleeve just to see the opening cap, the closure has another layer of tightly-sealed plastic around it—making one wonder just how many seals do we really need in order to feel safe and sound about an ostensibly good-for-you product?

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checkout-september-4A must-have staple in households with small children, the Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Baked Snack Crackers have a great many good things going for them as a product and a brand, but the 200-gram paperbag packaging just doesn’t measure up. Not resealable, not durable, and useless at keeping the leftover crackers fresh, the package seems based on a premise that small children will consume a bag of these fish-shaped mini-crackers in a day, which no responsible parent would allow. Offering little protection against water, the airy construction of these bags also makes them a magnet for insects, ants and mice when left lying around outdoors or at the cottage, while also allowing the remaining contents to quickly deteriorate inside the bag after opening during the hot, humid days of summer we just lived through.

Sarah Harper is a freelance writer living in Kingston, Ont.

Image at top of article purchased via www.fotolia.com.sarah-harper