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Monday, February 8, 2016

Packaging Apocalypse

As I walk down a street in my neighborhood, a gust of wind blows a rogue Snickers candy bar wrapper along side the curb to my left. It moves gracefully doing tumbles, flips and spins. To my right, I see an empty Doritos bag hanging onto a tree branch. It moves as if it was a flag used to claim ownership over a certain territory. I stop to look at all the trash around me. 

What an interesting sight it is to see the "evidence" of human civilization comingling with living and dead parts of nature. Dead leaves dance and cohabitate with throw away packaging that plays so much importance in the westernized product economy.

The packaging that surrounds us in our homes and in the store have become common place in the way we consume and live. We enjoy the convenience of buying easily consumable things that can eaten right away or to take up space in our pantrys. We enjoy the comfort of going into a store and buying a nicely packaged product ( edible or not ) and disposing of the thoughtfully manipulative packaging into a recycling or trash receptacle. 

Sure some of us may feel better about ourselves when we choose to recycle the used packaging, but we repeat the same behaviors contributing to the same waste stream we have been taught to participate in from modern society. In a sense, recycling is only a bandaid. Some of it doesn't even make it to an appropriate center and the amount of energy used to recycle certain products ends up being more troublesome on the environment in the first place. 

It is quite interesting that a whole design industry is focused on luring the consumer eye into buying a product that is attractive, appealing and sometimes obliquely environmentally conscious. It is all designed to be thrown away in the end. It is designed to trigger some consuming instinct in our minds and subconsciously plant seeds that let us remember what we bought and perpetuate the same wasteful and unmindful habits. Is it convenience that drives us to buy things that are easily transportable, easy to open and easy to store? Would it be too much trouble to try to limit packaging in our lives 

When going to a farmers market, the need for packaging concept becomes less important. The product is there right before your eyes. Sure some farms may place a sticker on a container or bag, but it is for the best interest of getting the consumer to remember the name. Basic and to the source business marketing. In any case, you can see the vibrancy of the carrots, the lushness of the greens and the plumpness of root vegetables and fruits. It is right in front of you and most of time you have the ability to have a direct relation and transaction with the person or people responsible for growing the food. The need for a carefully designed and marketed packaging concept becomes unnecessary.

Do we need all these packages products to enhance our lives?
Do we stop to think of how much we contribute to the waste stream? 

If we aim to keep track of what is necessary in our diets and lives, we can start to pick our packaging choices wisely. We start to see the bulk aisle and the produce aisles as absolute staples for establishing a more conscious and healthy human existence. The Awareness of how much packaging we consume, will allow us to grow in figuring out how we can spend our time helping others to make good choices and allow for more important things such as relationships and creativity to flourish. 

Here are some questions to ask: 

Is this thing I am buying a necessity in my life? 
How will the purchase and the packing affect the environment, both on a micro and macro level? 
Is there a way for me to take some bags or jars I already have and use to them buy in bulk and save myself from dealing with waste further on down the line? 
Is this canned beverage a necessity in my life or am I choosing to compulsively spend on something I am desiring within the moment whether it be sugar or sustenance? 

Is there an alternative to a packaged product that I was going to buy? 

Can I borrow? 
Can I trade? 
Can I discover new methods of consuming? 

Am I just buying snack foods to please my unchecked appetite or am I just repeating unmindful habits that I have learned to act on by past states of mind and action? 

In any case, the affect on the environment starts with the action of ourselves. We can only make some type of difference when we analyze and create new healthy habits that actually add value to our lives. Forget about the greater good for a second and focus on how minimizing consumption can save time and money for your future self and the people that help deal with your waste.

As a people, we are so transfixed on the "out of sight, out of mind" paradigm. We simply consume a product and do not think past the " I must throw this away in the designated receptacle" mentality. We think that our responsibility for the waste vanishes when it is gone from our hearts and minds. We fulfill our needs and desires and let the meticulously designed packaging fall to the way side and go onto to repeat the same process. This vicious packaging cycle keeps going and perpetuates more unmindful consumerist behavior. 

Creativity come into our lives when we limit and question our old consuming habits. We open up space for internal and external growth. When we restrain and become aware of the "why" in our behaviors, we can truly set forth on seeing truth and intellect in the smallest actions and how they can become so BIG. 

DG

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