So I did end up springing for $25 (plus 8.3 percent tax, for a total of $27.06) to buy the yearned-after mineral make-up from Costco. Pretty nice stuff. I like it. However…
Take a look at this:
That large flat chunk of annealed plastic and cardboard is what Costco deemed necessary to deliver five small plastic vials, a tube of lip gloss, and four small makeup brushes to the unwashed and thieving masses. By way of perspective, each of those floor tiles is 13 inches square.
Up at the top, you see the tools required to get into the thing: a box-cutter, a wrench, and a no-longer-sharp knife.
Yes. To get at a few ounces of colored face powder, I had to spend a good fifteen minutes hacking away at thick, almost impenetrable plastic. You’ll notice that no amount of struggling removed the entire plastic bubble from the hard cardboard backing to which it was sealed. No. I had to carve out every. single. separate. piece in this kit. To do so, I risked injury and infection: all the edges where the box-cutter sliced through the plastic are sharp as a razor. And so is the box-cutter itself.
I wonder how Costco would like the lawsuit that would have descended upon its management had I cut my hand and then gotten one of those flesh-eating bacterial infections in the wound?
Once I’d removed the plastic vials of make-up, I still couldn’t open the goddamned things!
No. Each one was sealed shut with a strip of plastic that could not be lifted with the fingernails and peeled off. Now I had to go and get a kitchen knife and slice each of the five vials along the seam where the lid meets the jar. Besides taking forever (by now I was running late to choir), this of course wrecked the edge on my knife.
Why is it necessary to seal every flicking piece of merchandise individually in consumer-proof packaging? Industry estimates suggest that 43 percent of “shrinkage” comes from employee theft, as opposed to 36 percent for shoplifting. “Whatever method employees use to steal,” the New York Times reports, “their take is more substantial than that of the average shoplifter. [Researcher Joshua] Bamfield’s global study of retail theft found that larcenous employees averaged $1,890 in theft, compared with $438 for shoplifters.” So is there really a good reason to put customers at risk of injury and to pack the landfills with vast piles of excess plastic packaging that will litter the planet for the eons?
Speaking of littering the planet for the eons, now get an eyeballful of this!
The last time I bought toilet paper at Costco, I absent-mindedly picked up the Kirkland brand instead of my usual Charmin’.
I hate Kirkland’s toilet paper. Not because the TP itself isn’t perfectly fine—it’s quite good, comparable to Charmin’, which IMHO is the best toilet paper on the market. But when you peel off the plastic sealed around a lifetime supply of Kirkland TP, what comes out is a big bundle of individual rolls…every. single. one. of. them. wrapped. individually. in. plastic. Because I like to keep several rolls in a straw basket in the bathroom, every time I pad out to the garage to refill the basket, I have to unwrap a half-dozen rolls of over-packaged toilet paper. I just hate that!
WHY? WHY, WHY, WHY?????????
Why on earth is it necessary to double-wrap every single roll of flicking toilet paper, adding a bushel of plastic to the landfill for every package of Kirkland TP you buy at Costco?
Answer: it’s not.
Charmin’ wraps its entire lifetime-supply package in one sheet of plastic. Even that is undesirable, but at least it’s better than Kirkland’s strategy.
According to Discover Magazine, 63 pounds of plastic packaging per person ends up in America’s landfills each year. Ninety-three percent of people six years of age and older excrete bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the manufacture of plastic, in their urine.
What do you bet about 62 of those pounds comes from overpackaging like this? It abuses the customer on both ends of the retail cycle: in delivery and merchandising, and in clean-up after the mess produced.
If you complain to Costco about its absurd overpackaging (as I’ve been known to do in person), you’ll be told that it’s not their fault! It’s the suppliers who just insist on packaging products in consumer-proof plastic.
And that is about as specious as it gets. Costco has every bit as much clout as Walmart, an outfit infamous for its bullying of suppliers. All Costco has to do is tell Borghese it can’t sell its pricey products to the vast market that is the Costco membership unless it packages said products sanely. Borghese’s marketing people know that they’re reaching a large group of people who would not otherwise buy that company’s products. Most Costco consumers are savvy enough to know that the expensive stuff you buy in department stores (where Borghese is normally marketed) is really just the same darn stuff you can get in a drugstore at much lower cost. Threatened with a Costco boycott, Borghese will package the product in more responsible wrapping.
This make-up I bought: Costco sells a lot of it. In addition to the starter kit you see above (along with the tool kit required to get into it), Costco also sells individual packages of mineral powder foundation and eyeshadow. I like it. The effect is much nicer than the L’Oréal I’ve been using. But I probably will not buy it from Costco again.
That’s how much this annoys me. I won’t buy it at Dillard’s or Saks, either, for reasons of common sense: department-store cosmetics are obscenely overpriced. Probably I’ll look at Whole Foods, which carries eco-faddish products like “mineral make-up”; failing that, I’ll check the beauty supply store next door to the WF where I shop. I’d rather pay a few bucks more and not risk slicing my hands, and I deeply resent being forced against my will to add 63 pounds of plastic to the landfill.
When is Costco going to get with the program?