The rough economy has its benefits—chief among them the fact that it’s becoming easier to open your new lightbulbs. With oil prices soaring, manufacturers and retailers are looking to cut down on plastic packaging, the New York Times reports. One potential casualty: the clamshell package, which is notoriously difficult to pry apart. “With the instability in petroleum-based materials, people said we need an alternative to the clamshell,” said a rep for a packaging firm.
You’ll also notice yogurt without plastic lids at Target; smaller, more concentrated bottles of detergent at Wal-Mart, and LED bulbs in corrugated boxes instead of plastic ones. It’s not a new issue for companies, but the recession spurred development. “There’s nothing worse than going to a cocktail party where someone’s asking why they can’t get into their stuff,” notes one packaging exec. “I’ve heard over the years, ‘How come I need a knife to get into my knife?’” A new cardboard packaging technique cuts plastic use by 60%; plastic bubbles called blister packs are up to 30% cheaper to make than clamshells. (Read more clamshell packaging stories.)