And Gutenberg Lived Here: All Hail Water Soluble Packaging

Germans, in their search for the perfect, ecological package,

and please don’t get me wrong-

there’s nothing wrong in what they are doing,

but still-

recently they have gone just a tiny bit too far-

at least for my taste,

and invented something that is slowly driving me up the wall:

Water soluble packaging for cleaning products.

Now, I have been through a lot over here, ecologically speaking:

paper plates made out of wheat bread.

(they had those in the middle ages, guys. A large slab of bread-

about the size of a modern plate, called trenchers then,

and good for holding meat or sopping up gravy.)

which suddenly,

with the unexpected  rise in allergy symptoms,

had to be changed to potato,

or corn flour plates.

And, then of course, came the march of the cones-

bottle sized containers-

out of baked waffle batter-

to fill with yoghurt.

Or smeary liquid floor cleaning soap.

It avoids plastic packaging, but…


The smear soap cone has a rather large tendency to not last all the way to your apartment.

But at least is naturally biodegradable.

If you don’t mind not using your car seat for a while.

Because the shopping bags are cotton

Or paper.

Which brings me to the next ecological advancement:

the ever-recurring battle of the shopping bag.

Bring your own,

out of one hundred percent cotton,

or be scorned by neighbors, ecology freaks, and the store personnel,

who somehow just can’t seem to remember where the plastic, or paper, ones are.

(I once had an offer of the loan,

until tomorrow, as most Germans shop daily,

of a woven straw carrier bag

in a bright third world print,

from my local bio shop)

(bio shop: fruits, veg, fresh grain they grind for you, chickens and geese wandering in the background, getting ready to be dinner for a special occasion.)

And since you have to pre-order, so they know how many to hatch….

And I’m not a big fan of calling my dinner by name…


for years, our thanksgiving dinner,

due to long work hours,

and no day off over here,

was black bread with peanut butter and cranberry jelly.

Easy to carry in your little special carrier packet-

one of the thousands of kinds of plastic reusables you “have” to have over here to be on the up and up with the environmentalist police-

Some of which are actually quite good ideas,

like the plastic reusable half-a-shoebox size boxes

with lots of small compartments-

perfect for packing lunches.

The smaller version of which is perfect for snacks-

And then there are the banana,

or apple,

shaped ones-

for carrying fruit.

Milk carriers,

egg carriers,

water bottles (Germans drink almost exclusively seltzer water)

Microwavable noodle cookers,

instead of those plastic throw-away  cups for Asian noodle soups so popular over here,

Salad carriers with small indentations for plastic silverware,

and a small integrated container for salad dressing.

And, of course, the one thing you really have to have:

the super large size plastic carrier for all the plastic carriers you need during the day.

Multiply by four, and you get about an hour of dishwashing at night.

More if you use environmentally correct dish soap.

Quick, somebody remind me how much good i am doing for the environment.

And… despite all the above hoo-ha…

And people who try to insist I take a bike to work…

And the carless Sundays…

The latest step in the environmentally aware consumer evolutionary chain,

over here, at least,

and the one that to me, is just plain the end of the hemp sisal specially grown and bio- replaceable rope,


as mentioned above,

the water soluble cleaning preparation.

In small packets made of something that looks and feels like gelatine.

And probably is.


and aye, here’s the rub,

isn’t always.

As the old style is still on the market.

At least for a while.

So what is the problem?

Well, picture that you take your little packet of cleaning liquid,

toss it into the sink,

or the toilet,

or bathtub,

and it just sits there.

Defying you.

Since it is actually made of…

ta da….


So you have to roll up your sleeves,

and fish it out of the water,

get out the shears…

You get the picture.

So what it the answer?

A local trouble-shooter column suggested you wet your finger,

just a bit,

and test the packaging before you throw.

So does anyone know how long it takes for blue cleaning liquid to wear off the hands of a

correctly environmentally protecting,



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