As an Environmental Design student, it is my job to wrap and complete the same construction functions as everyone else but in an eco-friendly manner. This means using locally sourced materials, reusing materials from demo or other job sites, and having an overall care for your product that is greater than those of others who do not implore environmentalist views. The profits large, monopolizing companies reap from their inefficient, wasteful, and harmful packaging and business models come in part from the politicians sitting above them urging them to find the cheapest, fastest ways to manufacture and market their product, regardless of the causes it may harm. So long as that harm does not affect their wallets, the gears keep turning.
One of the largest problems with a sustainable, eco-friendly, and green business model is that people simply do not care. They are either completely uninformed about the climate crisis and the trash in our oceans, the mass extinction of many species, and the perversion of our soil, and ultimately our food, or they chalk it up to fairytales and conspiracy theories. When the general public goes shopping, it buys one of two things: the product it grew up on and is used to, or the cheapest version. The sustainable option is almost never one of those two options, because it is frequently newer and unknow, and more expensive. If the masses see no need for or no legitimacy in your “overpriced” green product, why would they buy it? And if they don’t buy it, why would you stay in business, or how?
By packing the exact same product in an entirely new design, a leg up is possible. If someone is going to try a new product it’s because the label, the package catches their eye. The bottle is glass and fancy, it has a different shape, the lid is an eye catching color, or the box is labeled in a font that appeals to them. By rethinking packaging, the opportunity to make the products that are better for us and better for the Earth arises. Why not make the best solution the best looking? If it looks right, it works right, it is right. That lunch meat container could become every day tupperware for the family, or the shipping crate a new coffee table. If you can’t convince someone to take a chance on a new product they’ve never heard of before, start wrapping the ones they buy out of habit in materials that are healthier and better for the environment, ones they would be inclined to keep around their house for other uses, or donate to thrift stores and rehome them.
Sometimes you can’t inform or convince everyone of the right choice, so instead you have to help them make it for themselves. It’s just a matter of going to the biggest players, the Monsantos of every industry and imploring them to benefit themselves.
Essay by: Amara Bickerstaff
Arizona State University