Friday, December 30, 2005

Children's toys, packaging, and other evils of society

I was about to write a posting about the cursed hell of opening children's toys, but have realized that the subject really has been talked to death. I mean, everyone who has a young child knows how frustrating it can be trying to get Dora and Boots freed from the wire and plastic prison that is their store package. If you don't know what I mean, here is a writer who has spelled it out in great detail. As he states in the article, "Today, dolls and action figures come bound like miniature Gullivers. It can take a parent 15 minutes or more to free them, and 15 minutes for every toy that follows. 'By the time you're done Christmas morning,' sighed industry analyst Chris Byrne, editor of the Toy Report, 'you're ready for a cocktail.'"

What really irks me, though, isn't so much the effort involved in freeing the poor Fisher Price Zebra from its shackles, it's the endless amounts of waste being generated by the packing of these toys, and frankly from the toy itself. Guaranteed most of this crap will end up in a landfill, to be found by aliens in the year 3006 who wondered why the creatures of this planet were overcome by a strange petroleum-based substance that existed in all sorts of pastel colors. A typical package holding a typical Dora or Disney toy is made of a combination of heavy (and heavily printed) corrugated board, glued together with often multiple layers of clear plastic to allow for the best display possible. a 6" x 8" toy will often come in a box that's over two feet wide. According to my Township's rules, none of that is recyclable. I've read that Germany has strict rules on packaging of products calling for all parts of the products to be recycled or at least disposed of according to published guidelines. I'm thinking they've got the right idea.

As I was looking for more information on this disease has consumed America, I came across this article. As the writer says, "The issues involved in junk toys are deeper than the layer of clutter on the playroom floor. These issues are as deep as the ocean, where thousands of yellow Lego toy life rafts drifted after three million toy pieces inadvertently spilled from a tanker in 1998. But more important than the occasional freak toy-pollution disaster are the routine environmental insults associated with the mass production of most toys."

Amen. The article is fantastic, and I agree with it almost 100%. Next year, our holiday will be different.

Happy New Year.

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