As we discussed in my last blog post [Disposable culture – Part I], we live in a society that revolves around throwing away waste and replacing it with new products, regardless of the value of said products (a plastic spoon can’t be compared to a laptop, but we still throw both of them away in the same fashion).
Some of that waste could be reduced by individuals if they change their shopping habits, nevertheless, most of the waste is caused by manufacturer attempting to keep sales coming. I understand the nature of our economy and I am not asking manufacturers to reduce sales, so don’t fear! Here, I present some ideas in which manufacturers can contribute to saving the planet without a significant increase in costs.
Change the nature of the product altogether
(I know, it is a little bit dramatic but very efficient)
In recent years, the production and dispose of plastic has led to serious environmental problems. In many cases, the material is non-biodegradable and its production liberates big amount of CO2. Additionally, plastic is made with petroleum, which, as we all know, is a scarce resource that will run out sooner rather than later.
As a mean to reduce the use of plastic, India developed edible disposable cutlery. The product itself has no waste whatsoever and the production process has nearly no emissions. After finishing the meal, the edible cutlery can either be eaten (as the name indicates), in a variety of 3 flavors, or be thrown away into a pile of dirt in which is going to be absorber and used as natural fertilizer. The production of these revolutionary utensils in cheap and, just like plastic cutlery, very convenient. Following the example, other companies have started to innovate regarding eatable utensils, such as drinking cups that can be purchased in an assortment of flavors, although still slightly expensive to produce. If you want to take a look at the company that produces the edible cutlery go to you might even end up buying some of those.
(less dramatic, I promise)
In my last post, we talk about the concept of planned obsolescence, and how it ruined my laptop, making me work near electrical outlets at all times (thanks…). Nevertheless, lately, some companies have revolted against the concept. HP and Dell are now producing and publishing service manuals intended to be used to fix some issues with the equipment, as well as producing devices that can be upgraded and in some cases fixed. That doesn’t mean that people are not buying stuff from HP or Dell anymore, it just means that some minor issues can be repaired, proving to be an opportunity to strengthen client services and improve the relationships with the users that can only inspire further purchases.
Reusing materials = less cost + more resources
(not dramatic at all!)
The process of manufacture is basically mining materials, fabricating, selling, and finally throwing the products away. Besides the high cost of the materials, this practice is also unhealthy for the planet. The answer to the problem is simple: circular economy. The circular economy is based on making products that can be disassembled easily, so that the resources can be recovered and reused for new products. The great part of this is that it doesn’t require to decrease production or sales, just recycling “older” devices.
(this one should be a must to everyone)
In some cases, a manufacturer just cannot make repairable products or recycle materials. I understand that. In those specific cases, I suggest having biodegradable packaging. Most packages are designed with aesthetics in mind and not what will happen once the buyer opens the product and disposes the wrap. Nevertheless, I don’t think aesthetics and environmentally-consciousness are mutually exclusive; packaging can be designed to represent as little waste as possible, but still fulfilling the purpose of protecting the product and making it attractive for the consumer. Let’s be honest; I don’t buy a pack of Oreos just because I like the package… I wouldn’t even care if it came in a transparent bag…the reason why I buy Oreos is because I love Oreos. As a plus, using a green package can be used as an advertising tool by promoting the interest that the company has in the environment, so what else could you ask for?!
Although our society has trained us to never see acquisitions as something we will keep forever (or more than a few years…), we, as individuals, influencers, and manufacturers, can decide to take a stand against it and vouch for the planet. We talked about some individual options for reducing the amount of waste we make in the previous post, and now, manufacturers can (and please do) participate in the efforts too. I believe that even the smallest change becomes a huge step towards the right direction. Who knows…we might even be the trigger of change…
If you want to share your thoughts about the post, please comment! I would love to know what you think.