Replacing Plastic Packaging with Design

 In Food Waste

Design affects all aspects of society. Near almost all food in a modern day supermarket is comes in a package.

Living in a on the go society – our rush hours and instant messaging, express meals, and to go drinks all highlight what business do to keep us on the go. And nearly all of this food comes in some sort of package. But do the packaging we use in out food make our food more convenient and helpful, or harmful? Weve demanded our food to become more instant and attainable over the past few decades. It has made our mission quicker. But has our idea of convenience actually make the future harder?

On-the go, to go items, express, are all key items that we use on a daily basis. This can be your Starbucks drink and plastic lid, used once hummus packages, and lunch box packed meals. Though it seems simple, we are facing the consequences.

Food Packaging

Most to go packages use more plastic that typically isn’t recycled the way it should be. This plastic, like all other plastics, once thrown away lasts forever. They may end up in the landfill or in the ocean and break down into micro plastic bits consumed by fish which, you guessed it, end up back on our plates for our own digestion.

Gross.

So how do you keep the plastic off of your plate? Avoid the plastic that is being served along with your meal.The rule is simple: good quality products come at a price: the price is what goes into making a special crafted product.

These were products made for us, designed for us but not actually helping us.

But don’t get carried away: Not all quality products mean a more expensive product. Here are a few examples of products to look out for. You don’t need to worry about spending a lot of money to create a big change.

Plastic containers for fresh produce

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This was a picture taken at whole foods market by a customer who complained about the uselessness of the package. The photo quickly went viral, and within a day Whole foods apologized for the move. Promising  to continue selling oranges with its original peel and avoid the useless plastic.

Although this situation had a quick solution, this sort of quick fix (or laziness)has become something stores market and profit on, but with a cost. It is a huge problem with the useless plastic used in supermarkets today.

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Frozen “Ready Made Foods

 

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Aside from the fact processed food is typically harder on our system to digest, but spending extra bucks on the ready made frozen meals may not be as beneficial as a busy bee would predict.  If you buy four packaged meals every week, that is 208 empty packaging material per year going into the trash.

Instead: Pick a meal prep day. If you are one of the people that has a hectic schedule and are constantly on the go, try Sunday evening while you prepare for the work week ahead. You cook your own vegetables, proteins, and carbs and put them in a refrigerator with reusable Tupperware. It’s faster than you may think, and it is a healthy and cheaper solution.

 

Plastic Bags

One of the biggest problems with plastic which the food industry is still addressing in a different level.The billboard item of things to ban (along with straws).

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Those in the food industry are often addressing food waste but not plastic waste that comes with it, or providing easy solutions. We are obsessed with plastic wrapping already protected items, our food or don’t bring our own bags to carry.

A few months ago National Geographic addressed the issue, imitating the glacier in the water. A reader later tweeted his packaging when he received the magazine, which was plastic covered and repackaged in another plastic bag. Why? Its cheap. More secure and a behavior we as consumers have become used to.

 

4. The “Used once lasts forever”

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“Used once lasts forever” is a category of its own. In the food industry we can be referring to:

  • Bags
  • Lunch sizes
  • Food items we use once then throw out

Then there are the items we also face when we eat our such as in cafes and restaurants.

These products are often the plastic utensils, straws placed in drinks, and styrofoam “to go” products. Most restaurants have resorted to using plastic for these because of the cheaper pricing.

Now we know a lot of these plastics previously mentioned are probably not going to be recycled in any way. But these are businesses and habits we attribute everyday depending on WHERE we decide to eat.

Only recently counties and cities have began to address the issue placing plastic bans. Seattle WA. became the first city in the USA to decide to ban plastic utensils and straws.

We the people, the consumer, the buyers decide what will become demand and an ordinary item. Largely it is our responsibility. Watch what you eat, but also watch what goes next to your food.

The Eu has also made a commitment to change this key process. Read more about they will halve food waste by 2030.

How big is the packaging demand?

Consumption is one of the biggest problems but design is the solution – Leyla Acarglu

Why Recycling isn’t the solution

Consumption is one of the biggest problems but design is the solution – Leyla Acarglu

When people recycle plastic, in encourages them to use more plastic. Actually not nearly enough plastic that is recycle meets the amount that is being created every year. Additionally, the lifecycle of plastic goes on seemingly forever.

Recycling is not the solution either. It increases the justification of disposability, and now since China is refusing to take the world’s waste, many industrialized nations will have to start dealing with their own mess.

The solution to all of this is disrupting disposability, and the big challenge that we all collectively face now is redesigning things so they work for a future that is post disposable.

 

In recent years, China would buy billions of dollars worth of trash from the United states. (since 2007)  But recently they’ve announced a crackdown and limitation to cardboards.

So why are some countries like (Sweden) buying trash and other developing countries (such as China) rejecting trash?

Redesigning sustainable product will also help play part into the circular economy that Europe has made as a goal. The fact is simple that much of the products we’ve used previously have a linear lifestyle.

 

Bio-design

Future innovative packaging products are revolutionizing the way we see plastics and packaging.

 

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