We all know about the problem.

You buy a nice item, usually an electronic gizmo but sometimes a toy, and you can’t open it.

Knives won’t cut it, and you need sharp heavy duty scissors to cut it open. Yet even then, the cut areas won’t bend easily, and the edges of the plastic packaging are sharp, and cut your fingers if you aren’t careful.

Welcome to the wonderful world of clamshell packaging.

You know what I’m talking about: That heavy PVC clear plastic covering that coats the item, keeping it safe from damage if it is dropped, and just large enough to deter shoplifters.

From AmericanMedical News;

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 6,000 people a year end up in the emergency department for packaging-related injuries. Many more get minor wounds from using sharp implements to extricate products…. “You cannot pull them apart with your nails or your teeth, and it takes away the fun when you get so angry at trying to get the thing open,” said Toni Brayer, MD, a San Francisco internist who wrote about the issue on her blog (www.everythinghealth.net).

For those without heavy cutting tools, and the expertise to wield them, Yahoo Green website has these suggestions: use a can opener. Video is on the link.

Wikitools has alternative instructions, on using box cutters,  scissors, and “Aviation snips”. I use my heavy duty scissors, the ones I use to cut heavy canvas and dog collars.

However, there is good news.

No, not another 1000 page government regulation.

Capitalism at work.

Amazon is launching a “Frustration Free Packaging” initiative.

“…In their press release, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com said:

“I think we’ve all experienced the frustration that sometimes occurs when you try to get a new toy or electronics product out of its package. It will take many years, but our vision is to offer our entire catalog of products in Frustration-Free Packaging. We’d like to thank Fisher-Price, Mattel, Microsoft and Transcend for working with us in this effort – we truly appreciate it.”

So let’s hear it for Bezos and the other companies, who are aware of the problem and wish to save the fingers and tempers of thousands of potential customers: Those frustrated Americans who are unable to get the gizmo out of the danged box .


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.  She gets no money from Amazon for mentioning the company (which doesn’t have a branch here). Sigh.

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