Plastic storage containers come in all shapes and sizes, but usually consist of a frosted, clear plastic base with a bright, pastel-coloured lid or an integrated hinged flap. The purpose of most of these containers is to keep the food inside perfectly fresh, while still allowing simple access by removal of the lid. On the other hand, these containers can also be used for storing just about anything, from sewing kits to greased nuts1.
The manufacturers of plastic storage containers also produce 'unbreakable' crockery, sturdy cutlery, and similar items, which are considered disposable and are easily replaced; hallmarks of our seemingly hydrophobic 'throwaway society', where we throw everything away in order to avoid the washing-up.
A common attribute plastic storage containers share is the fact that they normally compel users to expel air from them whenever they replace the lid. This is achieved by:
Taking the container and pressing the lid firmly into place.
Carefully taking one edge of the lid and pulling it slightly free of the lip of the container.
Applying pressure with a free hand against the centre of the lid, forcing it downwards, and displacing a small volume of air within the container.
Forcing the lid back down as quickly as possible in order to prevent more than a minimum of the displaced air from returning.
People who know what they're doing 'burp' plastic containers in order to reduce the detrimental effects of fermentation caused by naturally occurring airborne yeast feeding on oxygen within the container. This limits the exposure of the contents of the container to bacteria and fungi which could be detrimental to the health.
Many types of plastic containers are designed to be stacked within a storage space, thus providing a means to economize on the consumption of space for the storage of foodstuffs. However, employing the stacking method requires a good deal of forward planning to ensure that digestive biscuits, honey-nut cereals and other commonly required items, are near the top of the pile, while the Orange Marinated Cheese-and-Gherkin Pufflets and Korean Savoury Whatsits2 are left right at the bottom. Not engaging in proper planning inevitably leads to a disastrous attempt to lift the stack three quarters of the way down with both hands and chin, while attempting to extract the required container with a free kneecap.
One of the most impressive examples of advanced stacking can be seen outside the World Headquarters and Conference Centre of Tupperware, north of Kissimmee, Orlando, Florida, USA. A statue composed of plastic storage containers 100 feet tall was erected in November 1999 to celebrate the company's sales success.