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Editorial and Moral Inconsistencies

March 9, 2009

I read a lot of magazines. Everything from foodie mags to marketing rags will get pored over and dog-eared. Sometimes I pull out recipes that I want to try, or mark down products that look interesting.  I was reading through the April 2009 issue of Shape magazine and was digging it. I generally like their advice, and more holistic approach to health. There was nothing on the front cover that designated it a “green” issue, but I found that a lot of their articles and featured products were eco-friendly, and there were a bunch of articles about buying and living organic. Awesome! I didn’t really notice any of their full-page ads because I tend to flip right over them  (-2 to my Marketing Professional of the Year award), but I did notice a few of their featured treatments for whiter teeth. White strips, floss, stain remover – nothing groundbreaking here. Mass consumerism of crap no one needs, but it is a magazine. What did strike me was their call-out for Colgate’s “Wisp” – “a single-use mini toothbrush that doesn’t require H20.” Really? Who needs this? People going on overnight travel who only want to brush their teeth in the morning? Are 99 cent trial sizes (that can be re-used and re-packed)  not enough? Who needs this, and think about all the plastic and packaging. Colgate’s Fourth Quarter Report says:

Colgate Wisp is a single-use, mini-brush with a breath freshening bead. This product delivers on the currently unmet need of “on-the-go tooth cleaning.” There is no need to rinse so consumers can use it anywhere, any time of day. The freshening bead dissolves as you brush and the molded bristles of the brush remove plaque and bits of food. In addition there is a soft pick at the other end of the brush for hard to reach places. Consumers have told us that they want a fresh, clean mouth on-the-go. Gums and mints and strips are the current solution but their effects are perceived to be short lived and superficial. Consumers don’t want to carry around a toothbrush and toothpaste so Colgate Wisp provides a convenient and innovative solution for cleaning teeth away from home.

Who are these consumers that don’t want to carry around a toothbrush and toothpaste? Why is it so important to them to have clean teeth (with not just a superficial solution), but are willing to pay big bucks to have this solution? At what point does a company, or as a community do we say “this is insane.”

I am sure there was plenty else in this magazine that wasn’t consistent with saving our environment (which started jumping out at me), but this struck me as so wasteful. I wrote a letter to the editor,  but I have no real hope it will do anything – we have to speak with our wallets.

This was a reminder to me to really pay attention to what I buy. Do we really need things individually wrapped? Is that product worth the packaging? If you are buying a single thing at the drugstore, do you really need another plastic bag – can it be shoved in your purse instead? I am not saying we all have to be eco-warriors – I’m certainly not – but I do hope we can become more mindful of the crap we buy, and what impact it really has. How much of an inconvenience is a multi-use toothbrush when compared to the waste it produces.

Have you found yourself doing anything lately that you consider wasteful? Have you found another solution or made a change?
Update: A response from Shape here.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2010 2:56 pm

    Frankly I wouldn’t have bought it for myself though it is really neat, but my husband thought I would like it. I have a regular toothbrush and toothpaste at work and I can’t see myself whipping one out after dinner somewhere, but I guess if you are on a date or something you can use it in the bathroom. Apparently it isn’t the actual toothpaste that cleans teeth. It is the brushing itself. I learn this from my kid’s dentist. Because the Wisp is a tiny brush with a one of those balls of mints in the middle.
    I do think we have a tendency to want to buy things prepackaged in individual packets now so there is little or no thinking involved, like the 100 calories packs. I am guilty of buying those, though I’m trying not to anymore. I like bringing my own bags to the grocery store though sometimes the cashiers give me a hard time. I can’t understand why. Is it really that much harder to bag things in my bags and not in the stupid plastic bags that I later have to remember to bring for recycling?
    Sorry this got long.
    .-= Andrea´s last blog .."LA X" (Lost thoughts) =-.


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