What is luxury to you? And what does this have to do with sustainable packaging? This is the question I am asking now an audience in almost all of my trend talks. I hardly never receive as an answer that luxury is a certain object that can be purchased, but our values and perception have shifted that much that luxury now is very much about a feeling. That feeling can be related to anything from me-time, time with the family, more social life, health, good sleep, silence…and the list goes on. From time to time, someone says, luxury means to me being able to choose whether I want to integrate sustainable solutions in my life or not. It’s all about having enough alternatives with an easy access.
The Soapack collection by Saint Martin graduate Mi Zhou is titled Luxurious Sustainable Toiletries, not only looking precious, but being precious for our environment as we talk sustainable packaging. I discovered her work at the Off-Salone this year in Milan and believe it is very beautiful in any sense.
“1/3 of all waste in landfills is created by personal care products, and our landfills are filling up because 10 million tons of single- use plastic is finding its way into our oceans every year.”
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
According to Mi Zhou, product packaging has always been thrown away, no matter how well-designed or what material it is made of. In a commercially driven society, in order to save costs, manufacturers wrap everything in plastic which, as we are all aware, now pollutes every single corner of the world. Her toiletry Soapack collection can once empty, desintegrate and melt away. A thin layer of beeswax is used to line the bottles to make them waterproof meanwhile.
Toiletry products such as shampoo are predominantly mass produced and their packaging incredibly inexpensive to produce. This packaging is not only disposable but also has a very short lifespan, usually just 1-2 months. It is estimated that a single person over a lifetime uses around 800 shampoo bottles, most of which are just thrown away and pollute the environment taking thousands of years to degrade. The balance is just not working.
To make each Soapack, vegetable oil-based soap is dyed using pigments from minerals, plants and flowers and formed in a mould which would be process similar to slip casting.
I have often said that sustainable design should be more attractive and desirable, this is one of the statements we cover in our latest Trend Book REGENERATION, and this project is a perfect example of how powerful it can be. Hopefully the mass packaging industry will follow suit Mi’s example, they might be surprised how many end consumers would be willing to banish single-use plastics and spend some more money wanting to do good and be a role model to their kids.
If you’d like to see more project on sustainable design, please have a look here.