Yesterday, I was at the inlaws house for a pre-christmas lunch where we meet up with friends that we haven’t seen for a while. normally its quite nice and the company was certainly great but just before lunch, we had bonbons that mother in law always buys. Apart from the packaging, shipping and unnecessary expense, theres always the ‘toy’ which is almost but not quite entirely useless and unwanted but this year had a special treat. Instead of a indulgent bang you normally get, this year they had plastic boxes about the size of matchboxes installed. then the cracker was pulled, plastic tabs were removed from it and it played a song for about 30 seconds. Thats it. Its clearly designed for a single use as theres no way to re-set it. I had to pull one apart to see what was inside, and discovered a coin battery, small IC and speaker, all packaged and assembled in china and shipped over in plastic and paper for a 30 second song.
These batteries alone contain heavy metals and corosive materials, the speakers of course had magnets etc in them and all this for a 30 second song.
I couldn’t think of a single thing these could be used for (although we could at least play the song again once I worked out how to reset them. once the contacts were closed on the device, the IC stays running and using power even once the song has finished.
This seems to me, to one of those things that in 100 years time, we (ok not us, but someone) will look back and look at the sort of things we do, like christmas lights, and wonder what the hell we were thinking to decide that was a good idea.
Linda, on hearing my amazement, said that they must be ok for the environment as they clearly had to pass a standard to be allowed to be sold didn’t they ?
Maybe we should have such standards. It seems the only thing stopping items like this being sold are people thinking and doing some research on whats in them and thats really too much to ask of people with lives to lead. We need some standards or at least an easy way of knowing whats good and bad to buy.