Friday, 4 March 2011

Critical Debates In Design: Task 6: Product Packaging

For centuries, we have been investing an excessive amount of money on empty boxes. And the role of packaging design was undeniable since environmental issues started to effect the world that much. So far, packaging was not only for protecting products for distribution or storage, but also a very colorful part of the commercialism and marketing. Even I - as an educated person who knows about the damage on earth - can't deny that, I like the feeling of opening a fancy box. Therefore, the problem is; most people put packaging and branding in the same basket, but they are absolutely different things from each other and we can easily eliminate the need just with simple design solutions. Nowadays most designers and companies try not to use packaging as much as they used to. Moreover, we are carrying our own shopping bags with us to grocery, and using mugs instead of paper cups. However, we still can't overcome the unfortunate domination of plastic bags or paper cups, but I believe that in a very close future we will get over those unnecessary wasters too. Consequently, design will solve the problem that it caused in the first place.

The Green Things - P&W

Green Things family designed by P&W.

Pemberton & Whitefoord have designed a range of eco paper and cleaning products for Tesco's US chain Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market. The range consists of everyday paper products, such as paper towels, bath tissue and facial tissue, and household cleaners as dish liquid, laundry detergent and cleaning sprays. Therefore, the paper goods are made from 100% recycled paper with 80% post consumer waste and whitened without chlorine. They also uniquely packaged in a plastic outer wrap, which expires in 12-18 months, eliminating any contribution to landfill. The cleaners are made from a plant based formula, free from phosphates, dyes and perfumes, they are pH neutral, biodegradable and scented with essential oils. Green credentials are delivered through the name "Green Things" and the leaf background, suggesting nature and earth. The strap line "powerful and kind" appears on the cleaners to reassure costumers that the products are effective whilst still gentle to the environment. Icons were designed for each pack to communicate the key products attribute, i.e. cuts grease and plant based formula and color-coded to differentiate each product and it's scent. In my opinion, design the agency develop an iconic, strong and clear look. The branding and packages have a friendly and approachable feeling taking cues from nature and plants. Normally, I am not a huge fan of hand drawn logos but ths looks organic and has a unique personality. Consequently, this is how a green packaging should be; 100% recyclable and only reflecting the benefits of the product.

P&W, Official Website, Available from:
P&W, Official Blog, Available from: 

Steve Haslip - Hangerpak

The Hangerpak designed by Steve Haslip, 2007.

Steve Haslip is a graphic designer originally from a small village in the South of England, UK. He has just graduated from the MFA Design course at the School of Visual Arts New York. The concept of Hangerpak is fairly simple; the new t-shirts always come wrinkled and out of coat-hangers. So Hangerpak is a sustainable, reusable solution to send and keep your t-shirts tidy. As you open the package you create a coat hanger. The packaging could be made from recycled material whether is is card or plastic and the only waste is the green tear-away tab. This lovely project won a first prize in the D&AD Student Awards 2007 category "What Else You Do?". In my estimation Haslip is a very good packaging designer, because he can answer modern designs' needs and here is a sustainable design which eliminates the packaging waste completely.

Carbon Footprint

Elements of a persons' carbon footprint left on the earth, the blue parts are primary and green parts are secondary carbon footprint.

Inevitably, each of us contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the climate change which effects the entire world. The choices we make in our homes, our travel, the food we eat, and what we consume and most importantly throw away all influence our carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person. Therefore, it is a measure of the impact our activities have on the earth, and in particular climate change. It rates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation etc. Carbon footprint is made up of the sum of two parts, the primary and secondary footprint. So the primary footprint is a measure of our direct emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels including domestic energy consumptions and transportation. We have direct control of these. And the secondary footprint is a measure of the indirect CO2 emissions from the whole lifecycle of products we use - those associated with their manufacture and eventual breakdown. To put it very simple - the more we buy the more emissions will be caused on our behalf. So we can say that Carbon Footprint is a product of the most famous modern disease; over consuming.

Green Packaging

Starbucks recycled mugs, designed by Alice Friedel.

I actually don't believe in green packaging much. If one takes a look at the annual charts on Global Warming, it is easy to see that, green or not we can't afford any more waste. Moreover, I observe that Green Packaging is only a trend so far. Most of the new established companies try to present themselves environment friendly, but I believe that this is only a marketing strategy. Therefore, people are more informed about global warming and environmental issues than ever, so we try to consume more carefully, but I think - moslty corporations - abusing those good intentions by launching eco-friendly products. I strongly support the idea which Victor Papanek present in his book, Design For The Real World, fourty years ago; "Design has become the most powerful tool with which men shapes his tools and environments (and, by extension, society and himself)", so most of the thing we buy are only adult toys. But it is because our kind is hunter and gatherer, we can't help ourselves to collect items in our modern caves. In this manner, not only packaging but also most of the goods we buy are beautiful and unnecessary just like those lovely mugs above.

Traffic Light Labelling

Traffic Light Labelling is a way of helping people to make the healthier choice about the food they consume. Nowadays, a growing number of supermarkets and food manufacturers are using traffic light colors on the labels. Food products with light labels on the front of the pack supposed to show the consumers at-a-glance if the food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt, helping people to get a better balance between those. This application brought to life by Food Standards Agency, and if you are a careful person you can notice most of the foods in the supermarkets has those labels on. Personally, I think this is a very useful approach for everyone, and people can benefit from learning what they really eat.

Food Standard Agency - FSA

The FSA is a non-ministeral government department of the United Kingdom. It is responsible for protecting public health in relation to mainly food thought the UK and is led by an appointed board that is intended to act in the public interest. About the manufacturers impact on product label, my research shows that they need a lot of permissions and tests to pass a product from the board, especially for foods and cleaning products including chemicals, they have very strict laws here in UK. Food Standards Agency's' website, has a long list about the tests that each product should pass, the items are mainly; chemical safety, microbiological safety, hygiene standards, radiological safety, allergy, intolerance and list goes on. Moreover, the FSA established sticker rules on TV advertising to children of foods high in salt, sugar and fat and devised a nutritional profilling system to measure the balance of benefit and detriment in individual food product. In 2007 the UK TV Regulator Ofcom - Federal Department Of Environment, Transport, Energy And Communication Tools - introduced restrictions on advertising of products which scored poorly under the scheme. Consequently, manufacturers only present their product and if a product passes all those test, the Standards Agency approves their label.

Online Resources 
Food Standards Agency, Official Website, Available from:, General Food Law, Available from: 
Food Standards, Eat Well, Official Website, Available from: 
Food Standards, Salt, Official Website, Available from: http://tna.europarchive.or/ 
Food Standards, Eat Safe, Official Website, Available from:
Food Base, Official Website, Available from:
Food Standards Agency Annual Report, Available from: 
Guardian, Official Website, Available from:, Subpage, Article On Food Standards Agency, Available from:

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post! about packaging was not only for protecting products for distribution or storage, but also a very colorful part of the commercialism and marketing.If packaging is more attractive then more the costumer will attract towards the product.packaging design firms.