Distaste for Waste

The Dieline is a packaging design website that promotes packaging innovations and serves as a forum where packaging designers can discuss trends in the field. Last week an article was posted to the site, titled “The Future Of Packaging: From Brand Design To Biomimicry.” The article discussed a vision of what packaging might be 100 years from now; a vision that, among other things, forecasted widespread use of biomimetic, biodegradable membranes for packaging.


Fruit peel-inspired WikiPearl packaging, an edible packaging design for liquids, mousses, and emulsions made from natural food particles held together by electrostatic charges and a small amount of natural polymer.

The article was less about biomimicry than the title had me hoping, but one salient point made it worth the read:

“If we go right back to the earliest form of packaging, some 14,000 years ago, we find cups made from human skulls – fashioned through real skill, pure resourcefulness and inherent sustainability. The skull cups referenced earlier may have sounded grotesque but so now are the overly excessive design cues and material wastefulness used to support brand identity, perceived innovation and differentiation.

If as a society we can accept that what is ultimately grotesque is not waste but wastefulness, what feats of sustainability could we accomplish? Could we put aside our distaste for waste and our aversion to scavenging and make use of some of our abundant ‘nastiness’? Scavengers like the maggot – a central character in a previous germiNature post authored by Adam – have found success with this strategy. If we put the right glasses on, our vile waste streams start to look like rivers of gold. Nature is a master of closed loop systems. Let’s take her lead and design ourselves a better world.

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