According to the EPA, Americans send 250 million tons of waste the to the landfill every year, and a full 30 percent (around 76 million tons) is trashed product packaging.
But with awareness of the problem is on the rise, designers are searching for innovative new ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle the stuff that holds consumer goods. Pratt University master’s candidate Aaron Mickelson takes the cause a step further with The Disappearing Package, which eliminates packaging altogether. Under his approach, the packaging is the product.
In the project, Mickelson selected five popular product brands -- OXO, Tide, Nivea, Twinings, and Glad -- and got busy figuring out how to make them with little or no packaging. Grist's Sarah Miller explains:
For Twinings tea, he managed to eliminate the box and the plastic wrap around it. For Tide Pods, he jettisoned the big plastic bag they come in and instead stitched the pods together, making them into a perforated sheet of water-soluble material, from which individual pods can be torn off and popped directly into the washer. He also created non-packagy packaging for Nivea soap (it’s wrapped in a wrapper that dissolves in water), Glad trash bags (now just a center-pull roll of bags with the branding information printed on the outermost one), and OXO POP containers (which I’d never heard of and still can’t really tell what they are, but now their printing dissolves in the wash).
As of now, The Disappearing Package project is in protoype phase. You can follow its development at Mickelson's website.
"My goal with The Disappearing Package was to expand the conversation on sustainable packaging," he told Wired. "I hope, at the end of the day, I have shown that sustainability can still be beautiful."