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Excess packaging

“How will we ever free ourselves from all this wasteful packaging in the future?

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The issue that will confront all of us once we achieve control over Covid-19 is the amount of packaging that our home confinement has caused.

As the pandemic turned virulent, I myself also decided to restrict my movement, keeping my orbit centered mostly to home, office and dialysis center. Every now and then, I will venture out to the drugstore to purchase needed medicine, the bank to deposit funds to pay bills online — it pays that there is now a self-service cash deposit terminal at my bank, so that I am in and out of the place in just about five minutes — and to the convenience store at the corner if supplies are needed. I haven’t been to the supermarket since 6 August when the enhanced community quarantine was declared, opting to have cooked food delivered most of the time. My sister did send me groceries one time, also delivered by a rider.

As I had to keep house, I noticed the pile of plastic and foil packaging that was accumulating. While I can recycle most of them, I doubt whether I would be going around the neighborhood to share anything that I may cook in excess of what we need for the day. I have channeled my late aunt who would reheat and recook food so that nothing would go to waste. I was able to save a bit because of that.

Even products I bought online were wrapped in bubble wrap, placed in a box and wrapped again in bubble wrap. So much waste for a deck of cards, bars of soap or lotion bought in a sale.

How did everything turn to be packaged in plastic?

I remember the time when milk was delivered in liter-sized bottles daily by the milkman. Ice cream came in metal tins that would later be reused as sewing kits and containers for gewgaws and what-not.

At the supermarket, everything came in a can, which I guess would later on be melted again to make new cans. Soda came in bottles, while most products came in boxes. Even my uncle’s pomade was encased in a tube made of hard cardboard. The only thing that was in plastic bottles then was junk food, mostly corn chips.

Everything we bought at the deli counter was sliced from a huge slab and wrapped in waxed paper — cooked ham, salami, bologna and my favorite, liver sausage. We rarely had hotdogs then; sausages often came out of a can as Vienna sausage or frankfurters. Meat and chicken were bought fresh from the wet market, and they were brought home in a trusty bayong. So did vegetables and fruits, if we didn’t pick them of a neighbor’s tree.

My memories are mostly of food because it was what I consumed. But yes, toilet paper was wrapped individually in paper, straws were made of paper, and chocolate bars were encased in foil and a paper label.

Even razor blades came in a box. There were no disposable razors as we have now. My uncles had this little razor that you dismantled to fit in a new blade every time the old one grew dull. Baby powder came in a metal box and cologne came in bottles.

How will we ever free ourselves from all this wasteful packaging in the future? That’s the question.

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