Bottles with cling-wrap packaging. | Wikipedia


Is it just me, or are manufacturers these days deliberately encasing their products in super-tight plastic wrap which virtually defies access? With the rest of the world focusing on using less plastic in the market place it seems unbelievable that supermarket products in Majorca seem to be getting harder and harder to unwrap.

The other day it took me ten minutes to break into a bouquet of supermarket broccoli which had seemingly been ‘cling wrapped’ by aliens, using an extraterrestrial, indestructible plastic film which, when under attack, developed a life of its own and refused to release its prize! Fingers proved useless in the assault , so I ended up hacking through the armoured wrap with a knife, destroying half the contents within. Then the cling-wrap packaging wouldn’t go into the waste bin, and attached itself to the edge of the liner, ripping a huge and inconvenient hole in my organic refuse bag when I eventually pulled it free. I only wanted to boil some brassica for lunch, not go three falls, one submission and a knockout with a length of industrial strength cling-film! But I suppose, with the recent Coronavirus scare, at least no other shoppers breezing the aisles could breathe or sneeze all over it!

The same thing happens with those handy milk cartons you buy in packs of six from the supermarkets, wrapped and super-sealed in snug, bomb-proof plastic. Other Half recently went for one with a Stanley knife, and ended up slashing through two cartons before releasing a usable pack for our afternoon tea! The remaining cartons seemed to shrink back under attack, and became even more tightly packaged within their plastic overcoat.

And don’t laugh, but the super sealed 4-pack of rich tea biscuits intended to accompany the relaxing brew of tea, held out for at least ten minutes before we managed to break in!

These days, struggling to get your purchases open is often the equivalent of a session at the gym. If you want a really intense workout, I suggest you try buying a jumbo jar of pickled cucumbers from Lidl. The pickles (once you can get them out) are simply the best, but you need two big lads and a monkey wrench to open the super-sealed jar.

My mother used to up-end jars, and bang them quite heartily on the kitchen worktop if they refused to open. “Releases the air,” she proclaimed. When I took her advice it also released most of the grouting on the tiled splash-back as I smashed my way round the kitchen trying to get the lid off my pedantic pickles. Another of mother’s ‘top tips’ was to rest stubborn jars, bottoms up, with the lids in hot water for five minutes before the worktop whack! But the most irritating thing about a willful jar is when someone comes along after you’ve struggled for half an hour with various hand-me-down traditional methods, and ‘pffffttttt!’ the jar suddenly and miraculously opens in their smug hands.

This success is usually followed by much flexing of macho muscles by the said ‘opener’, after you have done all the preliminary work of loosening the jar in the first place.
Plastic egg cartons also take their place amongst the cast of ‘mission impossibles’. In the spirit of saving the planet, I tend to seek out the eco friendly, recyclable, cardboard cartons which feel comfortably nostalgic, and they flip open with the ease of a gentle yawn. It’s only when you accidentally leave them standing on a wet surface, while chin-wagging over coffee, that the bottoms fall out. Tortilla anyone?

I recently picked up a dozen eggs from a supermarket wrapped in military-strength plastic packaging which literally needed the army itself to gain entry. It would have been easier to open a crab’s bum with a bus ticket! I broke three eggs trying to lift the super-sealed lid, so the purpose of encapsulating such fragile produce in uber-resistant wrap defies logic or reason! And what about the planet? Greta Thunberg will be spinning in her anorak!

Ring-pulls on cans are another testament to patience. Ring-pulls are fine when they work (and mostly they do ) but sometimes they don’t, and the ‘ring’ comes off with the ‘pull’, leaving the cantankerous can sitting there in dumb insolence. In the absence of a tin opener you need to get creative and reach for the toolbox, which usually results in the contents being spilled all over the floor. Of course if it’s a can of fizzy drink then the outcome speaks for itself!

I am certain this problematic packaging rears its head globally, although by coincidence, it only first really came to my attention when I moved here to Majorca, fifteen years ago. One of the first things we needed when we relocated to the island were wooden hangers, so we bought packs and packs of them, all bound tightly with so much sellotape we had to purchase a serious industrial solvent to rid the hangers of all their sticky, residual glue. The wardrobes smelled of pear drops for months afterwards, and will always remind me of the Majorcans and their love of sticky tape.

In certain lights, we can still see the outline of sticky labels on our double glazed windows, even after years of solvent scrubbing and Windowlene, so maybe it wasn’t a coincidence after all!

Although this is the digital age, if you are reliant on reading glasses for close work, and still a little traditional, then you will also appreciate the humour behind opening a new CD or DVD. The tightly sealed wrapping is virtually invisible to the human eye, and usually has to be sliced off with a surgeon’s scalpel while trying hard not to deface the plastic cover or take off a finger! Then, once inside, you are left with the challenge of ‘popping’ out the CD by pressing the cleverly designed centre holding button, while the disc clings like a limpet and refuses to come out and play.

Bring back vinyl, I say. But then I’ve just been reminded that they have! What goes around comes around. But guess what? They are all hermetically sealed in indestructible, impenetrable cellophane!