Consumers' changing behaviors and demands for “green” products have created an interesting challenge for today's designers. The challenge: how to make all the products we could possibly want, green. Well, here are just a few solutions:
Packaging- Lee never wasted
Lee wanted more than a shopping bag made from recycled paper. Instead of looking backwards into the materials they would use for the bags, they looked into the future. What will the consumer do with this bag once he or she returns home? Designed by Happy Creative Services, Lee's new shopping bag literally takes on all different forms. It becomes a calander, a board game, bookmarks, a door hanger, shoe laces, a ruler, a black book, a book shelf, dice, a pencil holder, paper glasses, and a first aid chart-to name a few.
This bag was such a hit that in order to keep up with demand, the company had to produce 100 times more bags than they had initially planned for. This is great for Lee and Happy Creative Services, but seems counter productive when thinking about the actual environmental impact.
OAT, a Dutch brand of footware, recently released their new line of shoes called the “Virgin Collection”. This line of shoes is meant to appeal to the individual who is both environmentally responsible as well as fashion conscious. Why have to pick between style and ethics? These shoes are made from materials that are easily broken down, and that contain seeds in hopes of one day growing plants where the shoes are disposed of.
Electric-LED Christmas lights
Highly efficient, these bulbs last longer and act much more efficiently than normal Christmas lights.
This is just one product featured on Treehugger.com, a green blog with an entire buying green guide.
Now, some designers have taken a slightly different route in terms of "green" products. This can include DIY projects, and other times, cleverly recycled novelty objects.
Take this Do-it-yourself Tiffin box made from tuna cans.
(Don't underestimate these lunch boxes, they were the inspiration for my entire senior thesis, and represent an incredible lunch delivery system in India!)
Another Inhabitat favorite: Oven transformed into lounge chair
Refreshingly clever "green"designs do exist, don't get me wrong, and I am constantly amazed and intrigued by my internet discoveries and those shared with me by friends. It's just that the challenge to please the eco-conscious consumer by providing him or her with sustainable options might be the wrong challenge to address. We are still producing more stuff whether or not its "sustainable", whether or not it's made from organic materials, its more stuff, and a lot of this stuff, still ends up in the landfills.
By turning all the products consumers could want or need into "sustainable" products, we allow ourselves to continue living the same lifestyles that have brought us the environmental issues we face today. Instead of rethinking the system and questioning why we need these products in the first place, we just buy the greener version, and are content.
I am completely guilty of this! I buy organic, and I pick biodegradable or recycled materials over others. I admit, I feel better doing it, but I know it's not enough. People know it's not enough, and are changing their lifestyles and landscapes to minimize their impact.
For consistant inspiration check out: Treehugger.com, Inhabitat.com, Design for Good, and World Changing.