Last night I was slowly working my way through the Vancouver BC transit infrastructure design guidelines. As riveting as the turning radii of articulated busses was, I needed some fresh air and a sugar fix. I walked down the street to my neighborhood grocery store for some ice cream. I went straight for my favorite coffee chocolate chip pint both because it’s heavy on the chips (something that you don’t often find in most coffee chocolate chip varieties) and also because it comes in a perfect little reusable screw top container. Once I discovered the versatility of this container, I’ve rarely strayed from the brand.
The one pint wide mouth plastic container with a screw on lid works perfectly for storing leftovers, freezing meals for one (something I do a lot of as a grad student who lives alone), carrying lunch in my bag without threat of spilling, or containing any number of other food and non-food items.
The Carbon Efficient City raised the point of excessive packaging of milk in the United States. I agree completely that . It’s clear that we could reduce massive amounts of waste by cutting back on the material that we use to package consumer products. What would happen though, if packaging for some of our products got a little more robust so that they could be reused? In Europe, certain brands of yogurt are sold in tiny terracotta jars. After the yogurt is gone, the jars work nicely as votive holders, succulent planters, or pencil jars.
The benefit of reusable packaging to the environment is clear. However, a well designed, well branded reusable package could also hold incredible marketing value for a company. Each time a consumer reuses a packaging item, they think about and advertise for the company and the product. The more durable the packaging, the more marketing benefit the company receives. The environment, consumers and corporations alike could benefit if we thought not just about making less stuff, but also better stuff.