In this occasional new series GARY STEEL looks at outrageous and unnecessary packaging. Today: White Glo Hemp Seed Oil Toothpaste.
The problem with unnecessary and environmentally unsustainable packaging is that we’re pre-programmed to look at shiny new products and swoon.
That’s pretty much what I did when my wife made the latest offering to our bathroom shrine: White Glo Hemp Seed Oil whitening toothpaste.
Apart from the excitement factor of the formerly illicit word “hemp”, the product simply screamed: BUY ME! I’M ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE AND, WELL… GREEN!
The major sweetener in this deal was a FREE “eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush”, but there was more. It wasn’t just a pleasingly green-toned toothpaste tube but a heavy-duty cardboard box with a plastic window. It also came with a very shiny silver packet of special wee Glo Dental Flosser Toothpicks and a cute pamphlet congratulating us on our exquisite purchase.
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It turns out (according to the blurb) that White Glo toothpaste is the Number 1 toothpaste product in Australia and was developed over there. I don’t know how effective a teeth-whitening product will be on my crumbling old stumps, but that’s beside the point, I guess.
Having been lured in with the promise of hemp seed oil, I must admit to a sense of shock when I read the ingredients list: Sorbitol, Hydrated Silica, Aqua, Peg-4, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Cellulose Gum, Flavour, Cannabis Sativa (hemp seed) Oil, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Saccharin, Sodium Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol Denat., Linalool, Geraniol, Ci 42090, Mentha Piperita Oil, Sodium Monofluorophosphate (Fluoride 1,000ppm).
To be honest, I don’t even want to go Googling some of those concoctions. I just have to put my trust in the kind and benevolent organisations that make this stuff and their responsibility not to poison us with nasty crap. If there was nasty crap in any of the above, I’m sure the product wouldn’t be approved for sale here, so I feel completely assured.
Looking online I see that this (presumably introductory) White Glo product retails for about $9 in New Zealand, which isn’t cheap, but then maybe it’ll go down in price once they jettison the “free” toothbrush and toothpicks.
It’s a nicely chunky-feeling tube and the toothpaste itself is… interesting. I wouldn’t describe the emulsion as appetising, but then, it’s not designed to swallow. It’s a rather odd combo of refreshing/cleansing and earthy. But to be honest, when it comes to toothpaste, the main thing is that it does the job.
The eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush is another matter, and I’ve had a bit of a problem getting my teeth around it. Not literally, of course. It’s just that the texture of its bristles (“specially designed to whiten and polish your teeth!”) and the woodiness of it all makes me feel like I’m sticking a wet wooden stick in my gob. I much prefer the entirely artificial plasticity of my electric toothbrush.
So anyway, let’s get to the raison d’être of this short piece: the packaging! I get that White Glo wanted to include a few lovely extras to entice uptake of its product in NZ, but did they have to go so overboard with the super-strength, super-shiny, embossed box? Couldn’t some bright minds in marketing have come up with a more organic, earth-sensitive, climate crisis-aware packaging option?
I guess it figures. After all, the product is pitched at people who care more for whiteness than keeping cavities at bay (although I’m sure it does that perfectly well too). But with its ‘green’ labelling, couldn’t White Glo have been more sustainably minded?
And one more thing: by the time I got the little silver thing off the end of the tube so that I could actually use the product, I was just about ready to commit a homicide. I do understand that to guarantee the integrity of the product (and stop customers fuck around with the openings) they have to put a seal on the tube over and above the cap. But this harmless-looking seal simply COULD NOT BE PULLED OFF! I gave it my best, but it wouldn’t budge. In the end, I had to risk the possibility of cutting myself as I slashed and stabbed at the damn thing with an extremely sharp pointed blade. Damn whoever designed that little silver thing!