Don’t Trash This Blog Post – Recycle it!

I stumbled on a really good book on a topic I am passionate about – reuse and recycling.   It’s titled Garbology, Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash  by Edward Humes.   I didn’t know this book was going to be as utterly absorbing and informative as it has turned out to be, so that’s a fantastic surprise and a welcome stumble.    Let me put it in this context:  I’m mad as hell about all the f*ing, mindless, stupid waste our consumer society creates.  I’m embarrassed  by my own 102-ton legacy (a data point Humes serves up; every American will accumulate 102-tons of  waste in landfills in their lifetime), and I’m reeling from knowing that a huge marketing machine chock full of very smart people continue to add to the problem!   This book helped me sort out my frustrations and has given me hard facts about the waste stream, good historical background, helpful resources and pointers for getting on a better path.

The whole book reads like a long New Yorker article which I quite enjoy!

Getting back to the DESIGN part of this Design Stumble: It’s good to have well resources for good design!    One of the persons profiled in the book is a guy named Andy Keller who started Chico Bag in 2004.   His company is pretty awesome!   He came up with a simple bag design to use in place of the plastic ones handed out at every market everywhere.   Now Chico Bag makes lots of great designs in zillions of patterns and sizes and they’re very affordable.    Andy Keller is not just a smart business guy, he really cares about this issue and has on taken the plastic bag manufacturers lobbyists in every way possible.     You can read his personal blog here.

I think there’s a possibility to design ourselves out of this mess.  Yes, it involves a massive change in behavior and consumers have to start saying NO to stupid, wasteful packaging design.  But marketers and product designers can  give consumers better choices.   There’s a whole lot of people doing this already, (one of the most influential and inspiring being William McDonough and Associates  who have written the book on this topic called Cradle to Cradle) so I’m excited for that but anxious to see it trickle down to the really small stuff at a faster pace.    I personally don’t think that laws and mandates are going to change this trend fast enough.  I think we need true disruption, something utterly different that shakes things up.  Consumers have the ability to make some pretty big shifts in behavior very quickly.   Enter design!


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