Friday, May 29, 2009

Packaging as part of the whole

I've been really enjoying Jackie Hernandez' posts on handmade and creative packaging over at Crafting a Green World. I'm definitely a strong believer in packaging and think it can make or break a product, and the items she's posted are absolutely beautiful. They have my head spinning with new ideas.

I am surprised at something she said though. In her post on Thursday, she said, "You do not need extravagant overdone packaging that will probably be thrown away by the recipient. Instead keep it simple, keep it easy to open, and keep it handmade." When reading that, I kept coming back to the question: why make something that will be thrown away by the recipient? If at all possible, shouldn't the packaging be something that can be reused in some way? I know it's not always possible, but when it is, it sure seems like the more ecologically-friendly option.

Two examples of this in practice come to mind. I visited Japan for the first time a few years ago. That's a country that knows how to create beautiful packaging. I still have some of the "ordinary" papers a few books I purchased were wrapped in, and have used other papers in projects since then. They were too beautiful to just recycle. Even simple wrapping was a work of art. Although I was leaning in that direction anyway, that trip really did firm up my belief that the packaging can be as important as the inside.

Secondly, I was thinking of shopping bags. Although the majority of my purchases go in cloth bags these days, I do still occasionally get store bags. Cheap plastic bags go directly into the recycling, but sturdy, well-made paper (and sometimes plastic) bags with cloth or string handles go in the drawer to be used later. And we do use them until they fall apart. What better branding for a company than to have their logo seen again and again because they've made a bag that can be reused?

Ultimately, for me, it comes down to lifecycle being as important as origin.

I began creating keepsake boxes as part of my card sets as a long-term packaging solution. The box can be reused long after the cards are gone.

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