What Grinds Our Gears: Packaging that is unnecessarily complicated to open

I shouldn’t need to ask for someone’s assistance for access to basic items

PHOTO: James Yarema / Unsplash

by Michelle Young, News Editor

For the past few years, my hands and wrists haven’t been doing too well. Due to a mixture of overuse, hypermobility, and a small frame, my hands have become significantly weaker, lost some of their fine motor skills, and have posed a series of challenges to my daily life. One of these challenges is the struggle to open things that, to me, were not previously difficult to open. I don’t just mean pickle jars and excessively sealed packages — I also mean pop cans, twist tops, and cereal boxes.

The thing that is so frustrating about packaging is that I shouldn’t need an exuberant amount of strength to open a jug of orange juice. I understand that the twist-and-pop cap is supposed to indicate that a product is still fresh, but the juice boxes that flip open with the little plastic-peel off are truly much easier for me. Why is there so much unnecessarily tight packaging, that when I’m left home alone, my meal options have suddenly become limited to avocado toast? (I mean, I have a few more options, but still.

I recognize that I’m privileged to only be experiencing this in the past few years, when there are others who have likely been struggling with this for their whole lives. However, I’ve found it increasingly concerning that companies don’t seem to take into consideration the amount of assistance that one may need to open their products — whether that be food, cosmetics, or other essential items. So, I’m asking everyone to look critically at the products they consume and consider whether their design is accessible, because not everyone has the same abilities, and I guarantee that there’s an alternative.