New Packages & Gadgets Get the Last Drop — Or Do They?

the last drop of ketchup
An Israeli Heinz ad illustrates how to get the last drop | Image credit: adeevee/Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Y&R Interactive

Editor’s note: I’m a big fan of creative ways for reducing waste… so when I read Jacquie Ottman’s latest at We Hate to Waste, I had to share. Learn how to get that last drop in packages seemingly designed to insure that you waste it.

What’s your favorite way to get at that last dollop of Crest? Do you flatten as you go? Slice the neck? What about the Palmolive liquid? Prop the bottle upside down? Add a little water and swirl? You are not alone. Booz & Co reports that 50% of consumers are trying to get the last drop of the products they buy in an upward trend since 2008.

But not everyone is like me and likely you, seeing waste-hating as a chance to experience the thrill of the hunt, even in the quest to ‘save the planet’ or even a few pennies no matter how fast they can add up. Many people (obviously not readers of WeHateToWaste) will take their business elsewhere rather than spend precious time chasing after drips and drops. Sensing a massive business opportunity, brands, packaging suppliers, entrepreneurs and others are inventing new packages and gadgets to help consumers get all of their money’s worth from the products they buy. Are they worth the money and the resources they use up? Let’s discuss and debate.

Tip O’Neill Said It Best

According to the scientific pounders and pummelers at Consumer Reports, up to 25% of the Lubriderm gets left behind as well as up to 16% of the Tide. That’s a lot of mayo, people — and money, too. As illustrated in the accompanying chart, that’s an estimated $1 – $2 on every bottle of Wisk, and a whopping $25 left behind on LaPrairie. Environment-wise, those drips and drops, like Tip O’Neill’s ‘billion here and billion there,’ add up to real impact when one takes into account the transportation and resulting emissions beyond the product and pack.

how much are you leaving behind

Enter The Inventors

As Waste-Hater in Chief, my life is a laboratory for every tip and trick to get the last drop of everything I buy. My eye wanders in supermarkets and superchic emporiums alike for new gadgets that can help me and the rest of our community save some bits and bucks with a little less elbow grease.

LiquiGlide is a permanently wet slippery surface that changes how liquids move (Photo credit: LiquiGlide.com)

Have you come across Oxo Good Grips’ new silicone spatula touted as specially shaped to reach the bottom edges and under the rims of jars of all shapes and sizes? Have you tried out Clorox’s new sprayer bottles for Windex with ‘Smart Tube Technology’ that evacuates up to 98% of product (versus 75% for conventional dip tubes) without the angling and other gymnastics? On the horizon for 2015: a coating called LiquiGlide that is reportedly getting ready to line packages of big name brands of toothpaste, mayo and paint.

Two More Gadgets to Help Get the Last Drop

My mailbox is a magnet for new gadgets designed to pick up where package design leaves off. Two of the most recent arrivals including The Spatty, a tiny spatula that helps scoop out those last dabs of pricey creams and cosmetics (Check out inventor Cheryl’s Ridgon story).

MyBotto will aid you in your quest for getting the last drop out of awkwardly shaped bottles (Photo credit: MyBotto.com)

And, when consumers are struggling to retrieve the last ounce of Palmolive liquid to generate one more sinkful of suds, My Botto comes to the rescue. Visualized here, it’s a plastic stand that holds bottles upside down, letting gravity do the work. (When there’s just a little bit left, I for one, prefer to prop my bottles in between my canisters, but having used this handy little device, I can see how convenient it might be to have those viscous-y liquids always at the ready.)

How Much Anti-Perspirant Are You Throwing Away?

Gadgets are fun, but not always necessary. Sometimes all that’s needed is a little ingenuity to get at those nagging bits of goop left on the sides and bottoms of jars, bottles, tubs and tubes. Common household items within an arm’s reach of the kitchen or bath can do the rest.

secret antiperspirant
Jacquie pushes the base of her Secret antiperspirant with a pencil to reveal one more half inch.

As some of you know, I for one proudly get at that last half inch of Secret antiperspirant that lies just out of reach with what I think is a quite artful jerry-rigged solution using a good ole Faber Castell pencil. Riches await the package designer who can help all consumers get that last half inch in a more elegant way. Ditto for other packages in need of an evacuation boost like round salt boxes, metal soup cans with the pull-top lids, and even some mayo bottles that are still not sufficiently squeezable to get the job done.

Shake, Rattle and Roll to Get the Last Drop

Others in our community are equally resourceful, even in the shower. Not wanting to waste a pricey dollop of Pantene, Alex O’Hagan adds water to the container and shakes it all around. And sometimes she inserts her hair right into the container). My friend’s mom siphons off half of a new bottle of shampoo in two, filling each container with water in a budget-stretching twist on lather, rinse and repeat. (If you try that at home, make sure that second bottle is clean!)

Elodie Planche, blogger extraordinaire at LaVieEnGreen prefers to roll up from the bottom tubes of toothpaste, lotions and hair gels, and food items like mustard; even with kid products like glitter and paint, she starts at the bottom carefully working her way up. Her secret weapon is a round glass or rolling pin that ensures every drop of glop comes clean.

Toothpaste Keys Move Over!

sliced tube colgate
Slice the neck of a toothpaste tube to retrieve every last drop.

Michelle Cashen (of iPhone case upcycling fame) recently referred me to this Toothpaste Squeezer now on sale at the Container Store. But even these may leave a pea-sized dollop or two.

Having firmly mastered the art of rolling, I recently tried a tip passed along to me from longstanding sustainability consultant Bill Russell (he should know, right?), and sliced my Colgate tube at the neck. And voila! Much to my surprise, enough paste for another four days! Ingenious! And I’m not sure he’s even a Yankee.

This post was originally published at We Hate to Waste; come on over and join the conversation about getting to that last drop of product.

About the author: A waste watcher since age four, “Junkie Jacquie” Ottman has spent the last 25 years showing Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. government how to develop and market products that can meet consumer needs sustainably. Read more about Jacquie HERE.

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