The unbearable persistence of plastic

crisp packet Photo1756

My neighbours have recently been archaeologising on their smallholding, finding ancient worked flints, iron age pottery, old horse shoes, a beautiful embossed lead spindle whorl and now this crisp packet, buried in a field.

The packet can be dated to around 1971 (when the UK introduced decimal currency) because the price is given in both old pence (7d) and new pence (3p). It is in remarkably good condition, showing little sign of its 43 years of existence, just one example of the uncountable similar items we have been filling the world up with for the last few decades.

It also exemplifies the perfidiousness of the marketing industry – ‘now with added protein!’ If you look closely at the back of the packet, it claims that the ‘goodness of protein’ has been added to the flavouring: ‘the flavouring in this packet contains 15% protein’. This smacks of homeopathy. (Though you will be glad to know that they used ‘edible’ vegetable oil as the second ingredient after potatoes.)

No doubt future archaeologists will have tons of these supposed ephemera to sort through when they are studying the great anthropocene extinction event.

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