Roundup: Our Favorite Sustainable Designs & Materials from The Past Year
by Casha Doemland on 03/08/2019 | 5 Minute Read
Sustainability is an increasingly popular trend that is taking multiple industries by storm as humans start to recognize the impact our way of living has on the planet.
While countless countries and cities around the world implement bans on single-use plastic, designers are producing biodegradable and compostable substrates or utilizing eco-friendly alternatives throughout their designs. Inspired by the measures they're taking, we compiled 10 of our favorite sustainable designs from last year for you all to enjoy.
Tired of the amount of waste produced around the world, 23-year old graduate Emma Sicher opted to develop two types of biodegradable products, single-use tableware like plates, trays and cups, as well as other packaging like bags, plastic and candy wrappers. To achieve this, she formulated a substrate made from a SCOBY, the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast used to make kombucha, and the peels of apples, potatoes and beetroots to hydrate it. Best suited for dried goods, the packaging was so innovative that she received a grant from the Free University of Bozen Bolzano that allowed her to continue her research.
Chile-based designer Margarita Talep is working to create an alternative to plastic out of agar, a jelly-like polysaccharide substance from red algae. So far, it works great for dry goods and can be sealed with heat to ensure nothing gets in the way of the biodegradation period that takes 3-4 months in the winter and 2-3 months in the summer, approximately. She's even working on making utensils from the same material.
Who says you can’t eat your sandwich wrapper? Released in Hong Kong last year and designed by Ogilvy & Mather Group HK, this limited-edition KFC Double Down features edible packaging. This epic beast with fried chicken serving as the bun comes wrapped in rice paper printed with edible ink in KFC's signature Zinger flavor to help you eat this sandwich mess-free. No more slipping and sliding through the grease, just straight munching as the rice paper holds it all in place for this zero-waste treat.
High-quality, handcrafted skincare brand Natural Science Beauty is delivering more than small-batch beauty products to treat your skin with the utmost of tender, love and care. It's also serving up sustainable packaging—glass jars with tin lids and paper for the boxes—that’s pleasing to the eyes and includes beautifully illustrated elements of nature, like a forest beneath the golden moon or a tropical island under the shining sun designed by Mexico City-based design studio, Futura.
Made to raise awareness to the devastation of the Portuguese forest following the extreme droughts and fires of 2017, Portugal's Omdesign produced 165, a caricature of a water dispenser that depicts the forest. The inspiration behind the name reflects the number of awards Omdesign has received over the last three years, as well as their company-wide goal to plant 165 stone pines to restore the forest. Each package includes a base made from burnt stone pine, a glass bottle of water, a water dispenser and a cute little pine tree.
London-based Volcano Coffee At Home and Commission Studio have produced a 100% compostable Nespresso-compatible pod filled with ethically traded coffee beans. The trays are made of a single sheet of recycled fiberboard, while the pods themselves are from a 100% bio-based cornstarch material. If that doesn't sell you, the bold and clever packaging will. Each flavor of coffee includes its own unique embossed design that contrasts the vibrant color of the box.
Brought to you by design agency Murmur Creative and Afuri Ramen + Dumpling is, what should be, the new standard for drinks on-the-go. Packaged in a glass can with an aluminum lid that pops off when you pull a tab, Afuri Sake Cup supplies the gift of eco-friendly living as you sip your beverage. On top of that, the designs are brilliant and pay homage to the Afuri Mountain in Japan with a white outlined-illustration.
Similar to Emma Sicher, Rosa Janusz produced packaging out of the slimy white discs known as SCOBYs for her graduation project at the School of Form in Poznan, Poland. Not only does it eliminate waste as it's compostable, but it's also 100% edible. While a little bit of the vinegary taste may transfer over to the food if you're eating it raw, the flavor will disappear once cooked. If you don't care to eat it, just toss it in your garden or compost and allow nature to work its magic.
After producing this packaging, Janusz co-founded MakeGrowLab, a bio-design studio and consulting group offering innovative, sustainable solutions for plastic alternatives.
Onfire Design Ltd. knocked it out of the park when they created the innovative designs for cocktail company Luxerose. By utilizing the pack within a pack concept, Luxrose delivers cocktails in glass vials with aluminum twist caps stored in bespoke case decked out in flowers. All of which makes it the perfect travel-friendly cocktail dispenser. Because what we need is more cocktails to-go.
If you care about your gut health but are bummed out about the plastic containers you toss out on a monthly basis, Seed has your back. Founded by Ara Katz and Raja Dhir, Seed is daily synbiotic, a combination of prebiotics and probiotics that not only helps your gut health but also for your skin, heart and immune system. Best of all, it comes packaged in a glass container with each component of the refill system designed to be kinder to the planet. The glass jar is shipped in a compostable mycelium tray, while the refills arrive in an eco-friendly pouch certified for home composting.