It's the little things in life that really seem to make a difference. Take, for example, sliced cheese. The environmentalist mantra is "reduce, reuse, and recycle". So, I thought, one thing I could do was to buy sliced cheese that was not individually wrapped, and then I wouldn't be throwing away all those little plastic wrappers for each slice.
The problem with that is that it costs more for sliced cheese that's not individually wrapped. What's the deal? I'm no expert in processed cheese or anything (who is?), but I can make a guess: it's simply cheaper to extrude and wrap a slice of cheese and pack slices together than it is to extrude a block of cheese and slice it.
I looked at the ingredients list of sliced cheese that was individually wrapped and compared it to the ingredients list of cheese that's not individually wrapped. It's the same ingredients, but listed in a slightly different order. The FDA requires ingredients to be listed in order of most or greatest to least (percentage-wise or something). Some companies "fiddle" with that to hide the amount of sugar a product has, by listing different types of sugars separately (i.e. fructose, dextrose, etc.) instead of simply listing "sugar" as the first and foremost ingredient of the product. But I digress.
So anyway, I'm guessing that sliced cheese that's not individually wrapped requires a different consistency than individually wrapped slices so that the slices remain distinct slices and don't stick together and become a single blob of cheese, whereas the wrapping of the individually wrapped slices does away with that problem and the need (and probably extra expense) of maintaining a certain consistency.
That's my guess. Maybe a processed cheese expert is out there who actually knows and can tell us (although at this point I doubt have very many readers).
Of course, one could object that the individually wrapped cheese merely seems cheaper because the cost of disposing of the extra wrapping hasn't been figured in. That could be a valid objection, but as long as governments control the disposal of trash, that extra cost is simply hiding in our taxes, unseen, and is difficult to calculate.