Reflect: packaging

Quite often, the discussion surrounding sustainability is choke-full of either dire warnings about the future or optimistic yearning for the past. Outside of academic and technical writing, there is surprisingly little on the concrete steps a typical citizen can do to achieve personal targets for the present. I believe Ecovative Design‘s products presents themselves as some concrete steps to do exactly that last point.

We accept packaging as a fact of life, rather of merchandising life, and while we are busy removing the packaging to our favourite knickknack we frequently forget that the packaging does a great deal of environmental damage. I believe this because of the packaging contributes very little to the utility of the product purchase and its life cycle ends with the removal of the packaging from the product.

Ecovative Design uses cultivated fungus roots and agricultural by-product to create a basis for product packaging and the company has tested their product against standards established for more traditional packaging such as EPS foam.  Companies such as Ecovative are actively employing the concept of industrial ecology, where one industry’s waste becomes another’s feedstock. This operation intentionally mimics nature’s idea of “waste = food”.  (Ed note: From when I first heard about this company back in 2008 to now, the company has grown and lead to several promising case studies that could lead to future business endeavours.  All my best wishes to them.)

At the end of the day, there are some achievable targets for everyone. Request biodegradable packaging at all retailers drives businesses to become environmentally sustainable and choose products that have minimal packaging – reduce before recycling.  Remember this from an article that was written some weeks ago – be ready to reject product that do not conform to your standard of sustainability and environmental responsibility. Lastly, be cognisant of a product’s life cycle and that it includes construction, use and disposal. Packaging is a part of construction that is only now being considered as a large part of the product’s environmental sustainability.


About eatonkwan

Engineer by profession, interests lie in environmental development, LEED and sustainable development.
This entry was posted in Life-cycle assessment/analysis (LCA), Reduce Reuse then Recycle and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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