Got an email from MoveOn.org that included this tiny photo of wheelbarrows full of prescription pill bottles. It’s a good example of how packaging can be used as a political symbol. Really, I guess it’s a symbol of health care (or consumption of health care), but in the sense that health care has become a politicized issue, I figure these prescription pill bottles are also a political symbol. There are supposed to be 20,000 of them and each one contains a written message (a message in a bottle) in support of Dawn Smith who has been denied coverage by CIGNA for treatment of her brain tumor. I was surprised not to be able to find other, larger photos of this image. Quantity is powerful and, had it been up to me, I might have wanted to make more of this image. (The video posted yesterday now seems to be doing this.)
On the other hand, maybe 20,000 pill bottles is not really “on point” for their message since Dawn is being denied medical treatment. Mass quantities of pill bottles might tend to suggest the opposite. So many pill bottles implies a prolonged, ongoing treatment of a chronic illness or condition. The pills that you must take for the rest of your life—in order to go on living. And wheelbarrows full of prescription pill bottles, perhaps, speak more to drug company profits—(rather than to insurance company profits).
Another thing that inevitably comes to mind (when you see huge amounts empty packaging) is consumer waste. I’ve written before about my own negative feelings as a consumer of diabetic supplies. Every time I use up another small canister of test strips (or other diabetic supply that I will presumably be using every day for the foreseeable future)—I feel a certain remorse about the packaging waste. Considering Dawn Smith’s situation, I know that I should count myself lucky that my health insurance continues to pay for my medicine and supplies. And yet glimpsing the cost that my insurance company actually shells out for all these supplies, never fails to give me anxiety about how much longer it might continue to do so. It doesn’t strike me as sustainable.
Jean Shin’s “Chemical Balance”
Beach Packaging Design