When it comes to sustainability, it’s not always what’s on the inside that counts. Green retailers’ focus has moved beyond their products to the layers of paper, plastic, and Styrofoam surrounding them. In a bid to protect our planet and its people, retailers are now innovating around the cause, blending art, engineering and activism to develop packaging designed with the earth in mind.
For food, makeup and beauty brands, designers have created packaging that is compact, recyclable, compostable, biodegradable, and/or can convert into other products. Here are four brands with inventive packaging concepts:
Lush—Perhaps the most sustainable way to package is to not package at all. This is the philosophy behind the beauty brand Lush, which sells traditionally bottled products sans bottle. Lush solidifies their liquid products by trading water for ingredients like cocoa butter, so they can sell the products “naked” or package-free. Products like bath bombs, bubble bars, massage bars, body butters and even solid shampoo are being sold “in the nude.” All you have to do is add water. An added bonus: Zero packaging means stronger scents, so don’t be shocked if Lush’s petal-laden bath bombs perfume up stores—or your bathroom.
Drinkfinity—PepsiCo’s new flavored water, Drinkfinity, is changing how we hydrate on the go. An alternative to flavored bottled water, Drinkfinity offers flavors in portable pods that can be poured into water. The pods, available in foodie-approved flavors like Acai, Pomegranate Ginger, Elderflower, and Coconut Water Watermelon, use 65% less plastic than traditional plastic water bottles. They have 40% less greenhouse gas impact and use seven times fewer trucks for transportation. Worried about your pod’s afterlife? Drinkfinity allows you to mail up to 30 pods to a partner firm that will upcycle them at no cost.
GreenBox—Sometimes thinking outside the box means reusing the box. GreenBox has redesigned a pizza box that makes eating and storing pizza even easier. The top of the GreenBox can be torn into four sturdy plates, while the bottom can be folded into a convenient storage container for uneaten slices.
Now, instead of lazily tossing a slice into some sad, extra-large pizza box, you can keep it in a container fit for leftovers. What’s more, in keeping with GreenBox’s eco-friendly ethics, all boxes are made from 100% recycled, corrugated cardboard. Interested in how the company got big? GreenBox exploded in 2010, a year after the company’s launch, when the brand hit the Twitterlebrity jackpot: Ashton Kutcher tweeted “smart” followed by a link to the company website.
Evoware—If you’re worried your edamame-avocado-tempeh-sprouted-grain sandwich isn’t packing in enough power foods, add some edible packaging to the mix. The Indonesian startup Evoware has developed a seaweed-based packaging wrap that is — for most products — edible, biodegradable and dissolvable by water. It is sourced from local seaweed farmers, and is loaded with high fiber, vitamins and minerals.
The wrap is available for foods — sandwiches, burgers, breads — as well as for coffee and dry seasoning sachets. You can also opt for the biodegradable soap wraps, though this version isn’t edible, lest you want a bad case of “soap mouth.” As Indonesia is our world’s second largest plastic waste contributor to the ocean, Evoware is hoping to change that through its zero-waste products.
Got a favorite eco-minded package design we missed? Tell us about it in the comments.