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On product packaging


Everything's sold in plastic sealed pouches or plastic bottles these days, and it's been the case for 20 years and counting. But there was a time when metal tins and glass jars were the norm. I recall how my mother used to reuse glass jars for storing spices, pulses and provisions in the kitchen, and we would reuse glass bottles of ketchup and squash for storing water in the fridge. Glass is an excellent container because it's chemically inert and doesn't react with or leach chemicals into any of the foodstuffs inside.
Marketers knew about the consumers' thrift as well, and would sell 'refill packs' made of cardboard alongside the glass jars so that you could reuse them without accumulating too many glass jars.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find Cadbury's Drinking Chocolate still being sold in tins. Opening a tin for the first time is a bit of a ritual. You pop open the lid with the edge of a spoon, then are faced with a seal over the mouth made of tin foil. So you slice the foil with a knife, being careful to smooth the sharp edges left behind, and out comes the foil circle sealing the good stuff inside! Whack the lid back on, and it stays airtight. And once it's finished, you have a robust metal tin that can be used to store anything else you want. The same goes for open mouthed tin cans; I use a Milkmaid tin to store spare change and a Fox's mints one as a pen/pencil stand.

For me, metal, ceramic and glass denote longevity and robustness, as compared to the cheap plastic containers that degrade with age and may contaminate their contents. And some of them hold memories. We have ancient metal boxes of sweets, Quality Street chocolates and even Indian cookies that remind one of long ago festivals or visiting relatives from abroad who got them, and other family members have glazed ceramic pickle jars that have held generations of batches of home made sun-dried mango and other types of pickles. Time passes, things change, people come and go, but certain simple connections to the past of this sort endure.


( 1 comment ^^ — I can has comment? )
Jun. 10th, 2014 11:30 am (UTC)
Love glass!
I still love glass containers. In fact, I buy glass ones for even new containers today, you get some lovely airtight varieties. It feels so ... rich and durable!
In this age of use and throw I feel bad using plastic cuz of the environment, and, well, my innate Indian nature (rebel against waste!)

In fact, I love Cadbury products for their glass and tin packing, same goes for Nutella and sauce bottles!
( 1 comment ^^ — I can has comment? )