Some of us remember the time when our Japanese grandmothers would give us bite-size pieces of hard candy that we could pop in our mouths wrappers and all. The translucent “tissue” would easily dissolve because it was made out of rice paper. Back then, it was a delightful novelty, but now it may be a solution for the mountains of packaging waste produced by fast-food chains. In Hong Kong, KFC is offering chicken sandwiches wrapped in edible rice paper and printed with edible ink. It makes sense. It cuts down on litter. It’s a tidy way to eat fried chicken without dropping greasy crumbs all over. And it is still “finger lickin’ good.”
Designed by Ogilvy & Mather Group Hong Kong, the edible wrapper was created to pair with KFC’s bunless Double Down sandwich, which features two pieces of fried chicken in place of bread. If you eat every last bite, you are responsibly contributing to the Zero Waste Movement.
Have you done something nice for your planet today? It’s Earth Day.
Since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, many positive environmental protection victories have occurred. We have phased out cancer-causing asbestos, took the lead out of gasoline, banned toxic DDT and PCBs, cleaned up waterways enough so that rivers don’t spontaneously burst into flames, made progress plugging the ozone hole, saved the bald eagle and the black-footed ferret from extinction, instituted measures to design “green” buildings, among other positive achievements.
Despite these noteworthy improvements, the earth is not in the clear. Human use of fossil fuels have largely caused carbon dioxide levels to rise by 46 percent in the last century. Higher atmospheric temperatures are causing the polar ice cap to melt and sea levels to rise. The earth’s glaciers are losing up to 390 billion tons of ice and snow a year. Nearly 100 billion plastic bags are used in America every year. The world’s scientists say that there is a 99.9999% chance that humans are the cause of climate change.
Many industry watchdog agencies are taking action and certifying products and companies that follow responsible environmental practices, acknowledged their efforts by giving them the right to display “seal of approval” labels on their products. Today there are literally hundreds of green product certification labels in the U.S. alone. This little quiz challenges your knowledge of a few of them.
Plastikophobia is a new immersive art installation in Singapore made from 18,000 single-use plastic cups collected from local food markets to raise public awareness of plastic pollution. Although beautiful to look at, this art piece is in no way an endorsement to use more plastic.
The art project started when Canadian photographer Benjamin Von Wong and Joshua Goh at the National University of Singapore teamed up with social impact strategist Laura Francois to create an exhibition for the Sustainable Singapore Gallery. Knowing that Singapore recycled less than 6% of its plastic waste, the team set out to draw attention to plastic pollution by making an art installation from discarded plastic cups. In a short time, they managed to collect thousands of single-use cups from local merchants and recruited hundreds of volunteers to bring the project to life. The end result is surreal and lovely, and hopefully disturbing.
In Singapore, plastic waste is reaching crisis proportions. According to the Singapore Straits Time, plastic waste has increased sevenfold since the 1970s. The average Singaporean uses and discards about 13 plastic bags a day. The statistics are equally daunting in other parts of the world. Studies show that 91% of plastic worldwide does not get recycled. The toxic chemicals that leach out of plastic have had an alarming impact on the environment and all of its inhabitants.
Like Singapore, other parts of the world are awakening to the harmful effect of plastic. Just last week the EU Parliament banned single-use plastics by 2021. It’s not just the proliferation of unsightly litter; it’s the toxins that are slowly killing us. A solution must start with product and packaging designers who have made plastic their favorite “go to” material.
The Plastikophobia exhibit is showing at the Sustainable Singapore Gallery until April 18th.
Plastic may be cheap and convenient, but there is mounting evidence that it is killing the planet and all the inhabitants on it. According to Ecowatch, today there are 500 times more pieces of microplastic in the sea than there are stars in our galaxy. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. Plastic constitutes about 90 percent of the trash floating on the ocean’s surface. One million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year from plastics in the ocean. Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by humans too – 93 percent of Americans age 6 and older test positive for BPA, a harmful hormone-altering plastic chemical. Some retailers are not giving up in despair, but are addressing the disposable plastics problem one aisle at a time.
Noted science writer Janine Benyus, who coined the term “biomimicry” in 1997, has provided convincing evidence that there is a lot that designers can learn from nature. Often times designers aren’t so much innovating new forms and technological concepts as they are shamelessly stealing what the animal and plant kingdoms have worked out over the span of millions of years.Through biomimetics, designers are adapting nature’s best practices into products, systems and processes that are revolutionizing our lives. This video, co-produced by Vox Media (Christophe Haubershin) and 99% Invisible (Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt), explains how biomimicry underlies discovery of exciting new ideas. A highly recommended must-read is Janine Benyus’s book ”Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.”