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The Disappearing Package: From Dissolving Wrappers to Products That Package Themselves

What if packaging wasn't just reduced, but disappeared completely?

Even though sustainable design often aims to make things last longer (cell phones, we're looking at you), the ultimate goal is just to make something last as long as it's needed. In the case of packaging, that's not very long. After a package gets whatever you're buying safely to your home, it's usually not useful anymore, and so 70 million tons of packaging waste ends up in U.S. landfills every year.


What if packaging disappeared after you no longer needed it, or didn't exist at all? That's the inspiration behind package designer Aaron Mickelson's grad thesis project. A lot of designers look at reducing packaging waste, but Mickelson wondered if he could start to eliminate it completely.

In his design, a bar of soap comes in a nontoxic package that can go in the shower; when it gets wet, the package dissolves, and you're left holding only the soap. The paper wrapping can be printed and embossed just like a regular box, but the design is a little different—Mickelson wanted to make sure that people wouldn't absentmindedly tear the package open and throw it out, so he intentionally made it hard to tear.

A design for trash bag packaging brilliantly prints the brand and marketing information on the last bag in a roll, so there's no box at all. The roll of bags doubles as a dispenser.

For a set of food storage containers, Mickelson printed marketing info directly on each one, again eliminating a box or labels. The ink is designed to completely wash off in soapy water.

A group of individual tea packets was designed to hold together in the shape of an accordion, eliminating an outside box and giving the tea company a new place to tell their story in the form of a little book.

Last, for a group of laundry pods (which are already designed with a water-soluble coating), Mickelson designed a package that stitches the individual pods together. Again, no box. When you do your laundry, you just tear off a pod.

All of these ideas are conceptual, and would present some challenges for manufacturers to figure out, but Mickelson points out that they're all well within reach; the technology exists to start creatively eliminating packaging right now.

Go here to ask companies to consider using one of these sustainable design techniques to eliminate waste.

Images courtesy of Aaron Mickelson

Articles
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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