Wednesday, May 14, 2008
embrace convenience or change our habits?
I sat in on a final design class at Parson's yesterday and the class project was to design something for the public good. There were lots of great ideas presented. A recurring theme was creating packaging that was convenient and biodegradable. It got me thinking - should we embrace convenience and work on making items compostable and more easily recyclable... or should we work more on changing people's habits?
One student compared convenience to cell phones. 10 years ago cell phones barely existed, but now we can't live without them. How else would we let our parents know when we're running 10 minutes late or ask our friends to pick up some wine on their way over? We've entered an age of convenience where snacks and drinks come packaged in individual serving sizes. Should we embrace this convenience and work on creating better ways to discard all of our garbage?
It took me about a year to change my own habits and give up plastic water bottles and plastic bags. I try to always carry a cloth tote around with me. The one I usually carry is the baggu bag because it folds up so small. I also love my Repsect your Mother tote from Sustainable NYC. My water bottle is this stainless steel one from Gaiam. Once I changed my habits I stopped creating more waste and now simply reuse the same items over and over. Plus I've become very attached to my tote bags and water bottle. I'm happy to be an eco-fanatic and enjoy carrying around totes that have clever sayings and come in pretty colors.
I do appreciate when food and products are convenient. But I'm not convinced that creating more packaging is the answer - even if it is biodegradable or recyclable. A huge part of landfill waste is packaging. Sure we could do better at recycling that packaging, but what about creating less to begin with?
We're all clever people. Let's design more solutions that are both convenient AND less wasteful. Like making pretty tote bags and making it cool to carry them around. Maybe we'd get more respect.