The Daily Ping

Fred "Rerun" Barry once commented here.

July 6th, 2003

Everything is Disposable

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in products lately. After the early 90s and its “green” period, we’ve come full circle and seem to be making more disposable products than ever.

To wit: Swiffer Dry, Swiffer Wet, Swiffer Dusters, Swiffer Mitts, Pledge Grab-It, Saran Cutting Sheets, GladWare, Windex Wipes, Tostitos Snack Kits, and Tostitos dips in “ready to go” bowls (the one I couldn’t find a link for).

Of course, the last one is what got my goat: salsa and nacho cheese dips in ready to go bowls, because it was so very difficult to take them out of jars and provide your own bowl. Gee whiz. Between the glut of convenience foods and disposable items, I can’t imagine how our landfills are looking these days.

When did this all happen? It seems that Swiffer started it, and then everything was in wipe form: toilet bowl cleaner, furniture polish, dusting stuff, chocolate…. Of course the disposable food items aren’t as new – but they seem much more common now.

Disclaimer: I do use Swiffer products (or store brands, truthfully) and enjoy them. But I still see the problem with them.

Posted in Everyday Life

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday July 6, 2003 -- 12:02:35 pm
Don't forget the wonderful line of Armor All Wipes for the car.

I agree with Paul here. As much as I love Swiffers and the Armor All wipes, these things were not made with the environment in mind. Plus, how hard would it be to buy the regular Armor All and get an old rag?
Or to simply get a regular salsa jar and dip the chips into that?

The only one where I see a real use for is Swiffer Wet. Regular mops can get trapped up with dirt, and can be near impossible to get clean, which is why I love the Swiffer Wet (or the Wet Jet).

My hope is that this will be like the
Oat Bran fad in the early 90's. After a while, the novelty will wear off, and people will go back to their regular habits. (Minus the delicious Cracklin Oat Bran cereal, of course.)

FROM: cd-rw
DATE: Sunday July 6, 2003 -- 12:40:01 pm
i'd have to say disposable packaging is here to stay. i design consumer packaging (yes, you can actually get a degree in packaging, which i have. come to think of it, you can also get a masters and a doctorate in packaging...) and the trend is definitely toward getting the product into the consumer's hands as easily as possible.

on a side rant, plastic packaging (like the "styrofoam" type packaging) is actually very good environmentally wise. i love how the uneducated environmentalists whine about how plastics never break down when placed in landfills. somehow these idiots don't grasp the concept of landfills and how items in them don't breaks down. that's why things get built on landfills because the stuff doesn't break down in them (hint to environmentalists.... you need oxygen in order for a material to break down. landfills, and environmentalists brains, are void of this).

FROM: cd-rw
DATE: Sunday July 6, 2003 -- 12:41:18 pm
break = breaks

FROM: Huyen
DATE: Sunday July 6, 2003 -- 1:50:36 pm
It started way before Swiffer- if you think back, disposable diapers could be added to that trend. Of course, the convenience factor there is quite obvious but my mom had used cloth diapers for me and then my younger siblings got disposables as it became available/affordable to my mom. People like to ignore the long term effects because they lean towards immediate convenience. As a side note, I bought a package of 100% recycled tp- (Ryan's testing it). And here I thought you couldn't recycle tp! ; )

FROM: Paul
DATE: Sunday July 6, 2003 -- 4:21:06 pm
Dave, I think you've hit on an exciting new business opportunity: disposable oat bran. Coupled with the recycled TP that Huyen bought, I think it's unstoppable.

cd-rw: the trend is definitely toward getting the product into the consumer's hands as easily as possible.

Interesting. So what do you think about this, personally? And how do you equate disposability with ease? I'm strictly curious.

FROM: jk
DATE: Sunday July 6, 2003 -- 8:20:58 pm
I too love the Swiffer for the floor but can't buy the cloths for furniture...I would feel some major consumer guilt. I recommend something called the One Wipe for furniture. It's bright yellow and it also good for your dusty dashboard.

Please let us know about the recycled toilet paper. I always suspect that the tp in Europe is's so rough, you can use it as an exfolient on your face! What's it made from, Huyen? (Can we call you Gwen?)

Paul, I just think people are lazy lazy lazy! It's easy for them to be lazy when they can throw something out rather than -gasp- wash it out or clean it. I water my garden with water from my dehumidifier! (That started a couple years ago during an East coast drought and I just can't stop!)

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Monday July 7, 2003 -- 12:27:20 am
on a side rant, plastic packaging (like the "styrofoam" type packaging) is actually very good environmentally wise.

This is kind of missing the point -- generally, we've become too much of a use-and-dispose rather than a use-and-reuse society. Plastic can be as environmentally friendly as possible, but using the same bowl a hundred times is a heck of a lot better for the environment than using 100 plastic bowls and then throwing them out.

I like the idea of "making a small footprint"... being conscious of reusing what you can and buying green when you can't.

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday July 7, 2003 -- 1:08:49 am
Paul: Second thing I thought of when you said "disposable oat bran": The old SNL sketch for "Earthies", the disposable diapers with seeds lined on the inside. Pumpkins for boys, squash for girls.

Moreoften than that, though, jk is right: Americans are the laziest people around. Some of this stuff actually has a great use. (Personally, I hate trying to wash the inside of the car windshield, so the Armor All Wipes are great), but a majority of it is just stuff that makes already easy tasks easier, and produces more waste. Until people stop buying the stuff, and it's taken off the market, don't expect things to change.

FROM: towinlovinit
DATE: Monday July 7, 2003 -- 1:15:21 am
Being in Scouts gives me the opportunity to show the young a thing or two about reusing stuff and recycling. Taking a tin can and making a cup with it that you can boil water in, make coffee in, or heat your dinner in when in a pinch. Kids today don't know that you can reuse things. I parents grew up during the depression years and lived on a self contained farm. They both taught us kids about conserving then and how someday we would be forced to conserve if we didn't learn that for our selves. Maybe our society needs to go hungry to learn this.

FROM: Aaron [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday July 7, 2003 -- 2:45:11 am
Don't forget about those profit margins. They are much higher when your product contains less of the actual product (say chips and salsa) and more plastic, which is typically much cheaper.

FROM: jk
DATE: Monday July 7, 2003 -- 11:02:48 am
We could have an entire Ping about portion size! Why have Pop Tarts gotten smaller while french fries have become mid-size weapons!!??

Sorry, trying to stay on-topic.

FROM: Rob [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday July 7, 2003 -- 11:47:39 am
Oooh. That One Wipe sounds just like what I've been looking for. Seems like most of the time these days, almost as soon as I dust something, it gets dusty again. This thing sounds promising.

FROM: jk
DATE: Monday July 7, 2003 -- 11:26:23 pm
Rob, it's treated with something that probably causes cancer, but really grips dust and dirt. It comes in a plastic bag and says One-Wipe Ultimate Duster...America's favorite dust cloth!

So many other cloths just move the dust around.

You can use this thing intensely and just keep shaking it out/rubbing it together to get it "clean" and you CAN wash it, although you should probably just dunk it in mildly soapy dish soap.

My challenge with the Swiffer is that is doesn't pick up crumbs so I still end up getting down on the floor with a wet paper towel.

Challenge? PROBLEM! Ack, I am speaking work-speak here!!!

FROM: Rob [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday July 8, 2003 -- 9:52:00 am
jk - Maybe when you and Dave Walls get married, I'll get you some One-Wipe cloths as a gift.

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday July 8, 2003 -- 11:04:54 am
Hehe -- I'd like to see that appear on a gift registry, just once. ;)

FROM: jk
DATE: Tuesday July 8, 2003 -- 11:56:50 pm
Wouldn't that be interesting...a ping-created wedding. Seriously, my friend who lacks ALL creativity in gift-giving gave me Swiffer refills and a little broom/dustpan set from Target for my birthday last year. I think it's that Michael Graves collection. And I was quite pleased! (considering that she could have given me something really useless, the cleaning items were very appreciated.)

I refuse to get people the items they register for. I am the Unconventional Wedding Guest! (Unless it's something really cool and hip, like my friends who just got married....I bought them a ton of Fire King in an unpopular color, which was exactly what they wanted! Ok, so I did get them what they wanted, but I refused to wrap it in wedding paper.)

FROM: jk
DATE: Tuesday July 8, 2003 -- 11:58:38 pm
Hmmm, nancy if you are reading this, I apologize. You are just more practical than creative.

You may be witnessing the end of a long friendship. did score well the time you got me Cheap Trick's greatest hits!!!

FROM: aharris [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday July 17, 2003 -- 2:36:42 am
I know I'm a little late on this ping but...

A while back I got a call from a telemarketer trying to send me coupons for swiffer refills. I was like: I don't own a swiffer, I use a mop (yes an old fashioned mop). And she was like, what do you MEAN you don't own a swiffer...


FROM: Paul
DATE: Thursday July 17, 2003 -- 8:31:08 am
That's so 1999. Get with the times, man!

FROM: Rob [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday July 17, 2003 -- 12:33:10 pm
Just wanted to mention that I ended up getting a couple One Wipes. Took a while to track one down, but they had some hidden on a rack at Linens 'n' Things. Thanks bunches, jk! This thing is awesome. :)

FROM: jk
DATE: Thursday July 17, 2003 -- 9:24:25 pm
Glad to help! I had a coupon for L n T and was going to buy a wedding gift their yesterday yet ended up buying really cool juice glasses for myself. They have a superb selection of items, and their staff was so helpful, I called to tell their manager about my great experience there. People are so quick to complain, but not to give praise when they receive good service. Anywho, I am glad you got the One Wipes! As I left for work this morning, the sunlight illuminated some horrifying dust on a table, so I am off to remedy it with the One Wipe.

FROM: jk
DATE: Thursday July 17, 2003 -- 9:25:23 pm
There! Not their! ACKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!

FROM: angel
DATE: Wednesday September 17, 2003 -- 4:11:22 pm
Has anyone tried the Saran Cutting sheets? Do they work?

FROM: huyen 2003
DATE: Wednesday December 31, 2003 -- 10:22:37 am

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday December 31, 2003 -- 11:03:59 am
Just wanted to point out that that huyen 2003 is not my wife.

FROM: Lisa Bridgford
DATE: Saturday January 8, 2005 -- 8:23:52 pm
Hi everyone. Im a student in yr 12 doing a design and technology project. My choice is to produce a magazine that is called freagments to fortune. and lucky enuogh to find this site about my magazine.... it is based purely on reusing. it would be good if you could give me more insight to what you think i agree with everything that was said i think (about disposable being the central point in todays society) could i have your permission to use some points in my magazine and anymore you have to offer? thanx for your time and help....

darrell February 18, 2007, 3:57 am

I had a buddy one time refer to the trend to dispose of things as the bic lighter syndrone. So I did some research on it and the trend as far as I could tell came from the soda industry, when I was a kid you could always go hunt for soda bottles to get a little cash, but then they went and got smart… hey lets not bring all those bottles back and clean and refill them, it cost too much lets put the responsibility on the consumer, they can just throw them away.

My information comes from the late 70s but i found that there was enough aluminum to rebuild all this nations airlines 21 times, enough glass for 4 glasses for every man woman and child on earth, enough copper to strech from here to the sun, and enough steel to rebuild Manhattan Island, not to mention paper and plastic

seems to me that in the future when all our resource have been depleted we may have to start mining the landfills

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