Then I conducted a little internet research and found that sales of gadgets claiming to help empty bottles and tubes have increased over recent months, building on significant gains made in the last five years. Apparently consumers feel like they're “winning” when they use these products.
One new tool is a $4.99 spatula called "Every Drop," which digs out left-behind lotion, hair-care products and even trapped lipstick. It promises "extra weeks of use out of each beauty container."
I don’t use beauty products myself, but surveys show that those who do think they are losing up to 25% of those expensive creams, lotions, and serums. This spatula lets you get under the lid and scrape out the last drop of that liquid gold.
In a similar vein, marketing researchers for a leading laundry soap observed consumers taking knives to their bottles of liquid detergent in an effort to drain them completely. That desire to get it all out prompted the soap maker to introduce single-dose detergent pods. That way the customer felt none was wasted. I suppose you can cut the pods in half if you really want to stretch your laundry dollars.
As for toothpaste tubes, you may have noticed they are now made from a more-flexible plastic laminate, so the paste can be pushed out more smoothly. I can remember when the tubes were made of lead and squeezing out that last ounce was difficult. Then they switched over to aluminum tubes, which didn’t roll up very well. They have also changed the formula for the paste to make it less sticky.
More than our concern with nickel-and-dime savings, it appears that using every last drop seems to give consumers a sense of satisfaction and doing the right thing. Aren’t we clever?
Starting in 2008, consumers rated the ability to empty a package completely as the most important feature in beauty and personal-care packaging. Before that, other priorities like attractiveness of the container usually topped the list.
It's as if we are saying, “Maybe I can afford to waste these products, but it's just not a good thing to do. Valuable resources like soap need to be conserved.”
As another version of this attitude, I remember my dad’s tractor shed with a variety of ancient tools, leftover machinery parts, odd-sized nuts and bolts, and half-empty cans of axle grease—all just waiting for the right need or occasion to come along and enable them to save the day.
Jerry Lincecum is a retired English professor who now teaches classes for older adults who want to write their life stories. He welcomes your reminiscences on any subject: email@example.com