The Shape of It

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2013 • all rights reserved

When it comes to effeciently storing provisions, the shape of the containers matters. Square packaging lets you get a lot more in!

A while back, Smart Balance came out with a new container.  Or at least they did at the grocery store I shop at most often, a Walmart; other stores in the area still have the old, round containers.  The new ones hold just as much but are square.

Now, I’m sure that their real motivation was wasted space in transport and Walmart grumbling about space in their refrigerated display cases — but their web site is touting the “space saving” nature of the square tubs.  And space-saving is a key concept on boats.

I always look for square corners on containers when it’s an option.  As an example, the round container is 4-1/2″ in diameter, while the square one is 4″ — and is about 1/16″ shorter.  Since you’ll virtually never find items that will fit right up to a round container, the round Smart Balance has an effective footprint of 20-1/4 square inches, versus 16 for the square one.

Multiply this by all the things you have in the refrig, and pretty soon it adds up to a real difference in what you can take with you.  Maybe a couple extra blocks of cheese for happy hour . . . or more cold drinks.

And square/rectangular containers wasting less space than round is equally true in lockers.  I’ve always looked for the squarest food storage containers I can find.

Now that many cans have pull tops on them (so you don’t have to use a can opener), I keep expecting (hoping?) to see square cans of food some day — which could really save a lot of space for boats heading to remote locations, not to mention being a lot quieter as they can’t roll!  And, speaking of not rolling — should a grocery bag break, the cans wouldn’t go rolling down the sidewalk . . . or off the edge of the dock.

I’m hoping that the Smart Balance containers are just the beginning of a big wave of change . . .

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Comments

  1. Sherry Day says:

    Here is another “square” idea:
    I try to buy whatever I can in square containers. Now a variety of rice and pastas come in square or rectangular plastic containers. Once emptied, I refill with bagged items. The best one is the large square animal cracker containers from Costco. I have several and store various chips in them. As for the cookies, well, grandchildren had many (they are organic!) and they are also just the right size to have a couple with your coffee!

  2. I would love to see square cans, too, but I suspect that they are MUCH harder to manufacture. Plastic and glass can be molded in any shape easily, but most steel cans are actually rolled out of flat sheets of metal.

    Now how about square beer bottles? You know, like olive oil bottles? Or better yet, a way to put beer in boxed bags, like wine. I love beer on hot days, but the amount of packaging per drink makes me crazy…

  3. Richard Scott Howerton

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