Why Plastic Is One Of The Biggest Design Failures That Sorely Needs A Solution

By Yoon Sann Wong, 22 Feb 2018

BBC’s Blue Planet II has done much more than simply give viewers an insightful look at the wonders of the natural world. Ever since host David Attenborough spotlighted the worldly crisis involving oceanic plastic pollution in the show, governments and individuals have taken up the challenge to make a change for the better.

Together with BBC’s declaration to be free of all single-use plastics by 2020, people residing within the UK are attempting ‘#PlasticFreeLent’, a movement where participants give up all plastic packaging for forty days.

Doing so, however, isn’t the easiest of tasks.

“For me the most challenging aspect are things that in my town I can’t buy out of plastic, such as pasta, rice, ham and cheese,” explains open water swimmer Izzy Crouch, who founded the online No Plastic Shop, to Mashable.

“I’m a big David Attenborough fan, so I think this year’s challenge came about partly because of the Blue Planet series,” reveals journalist Rosie Paterson. Like many other city dwellers, Paterson finds it extra challenging when she’s swarmed or exhausted, and lacks time to head to a plastic-free specialist shop.

“On my way back to London from Norfolk last night, I stopped at an M&S garage for an apple but they didn’t have any loose fruit or veg available to buy.” To add, certain fresh produce that Paterson wants to purchase just doesn’t come in plastic-free packaging at many grocery stores. Purchasing cosmetics and toiletries are also an issue, laments Paterson.

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Entrepreneur and investor Leon Emirali has opted to join the challenge as he believes that people just can’t “go on treating the world’s oceans like a rubbish dump.”

Little changes go a long way, but while Emirali has replaced buying bottled water with drinking from the tap, other behavioral shifts aren’t as easily taken up. “I have to admit, it’s quite hard to eradicate the use of plastic entirely but hopefully if enough people reduce the amount of plastic they consume, it’ll make retailers recognize they need to change how they package and sell goods.”



On It’s Nice That, Creativebrief’s Bite editor Kara Melchers maintains:

Plastic isn’t a consumer problem; it’s a design problem.

The resource that once opened myriad opportunities is currently suffocating and killing the planet.

Until brands alter the way they design their products, getting the world to alter their buying habits is almost impossible.

Thankfully, some brands, big and small, are already stepping up to make changes. Together with No Plastic Shop, other plastic-free entities have begun sprouting up, including the Package Free brand.

Image via 8th.creator /

Renowned names such as McDonald’s is working towards having 100 percent of its packaging come from recyclable, renewable, or certified sources by 2025. Early this year, Nike announced its second major wind partnership with Avangrid Renewables to source 100 percent renewable energy across its owned or operated facilities within North America.

At the consumer level, the “world’s first” plastic-free straw that is not only biodegradable, but also edible could, down the road, potentially replace the “500 million plastic straws [that are] used every day in the US” alone.

Melchers cites many other examples by brands including Tesco, Sainsbury and other startups, which you can read here.

Hopefully, through 2018, more green design solutions will surface that can help make plastic pollution a dwindling global problem.

[via Mashable and It’s Nice That, main image via Shutterstock]
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