Branding in Zero-Waste Zones

I'm baaack! 

Before I tell you what I’ve been up to over the past year+ at b-school, I'd like to discuss some topics I haven’t been able to get off my mind—but also haven’t had the time to write about!

As you know, I spend a lot of time thinking about soap.  Once I learned the amount of waste that's generated just from our liquid soap bottles alone (2 million pounds of plastic trash annually!), I began thinking about the other areas in which we're super wasteful.  From this, I found many consumers, business owners, and writers that have begun taking matters into their own hands. I was inspired! 

Case in point: check out what the cool folks at Austin’s in.gredients and London’s unpackaged are doing.  I’m dying to visit these stores.  They're zero-packaging concepts, where customers bring their own containers to fill up with groceries. Think of the bulk section at your local market—but the entire store over. These concepts are supported, in a way, by entrepreneurs like Hyp-Bag, Kootsac, and others that make cool re-usable bulk grocery containers!

To tide me over before visiting Austin and London, I began following the ladies of No Trash Project and Zero Waste Home.  While their approaches are different, they share the goal of eradicating packaging from their lives. Basically, they don’t own trashcans because they don’t need them. 

I’m in awe.

Bringing it back to soap for a moment--I keep hearing that sustainable packaging will be the next big innovation in the beauty industry.  We saw IDEO and UFP help PangeaOrganics get into it back in 2007 with 100% plantable packaging, and then P&G and other mass manufacturers began hopping on the bandwagon with more eco friendly options too.

But sustainable packaging is still packaging!  

So here is my conundrum, and my question to you, lovely readers: how will brands handle a shift to no-packaging consumerism?  Do you have any ideas about how brands can keep their identities in kitchens, closets, showers and bathroom shelves when their product is in an antique glass milk bottle, tupperware container, or mason jar, rather than a bold, branded bottle?

I'm so interested to hear your thoughts, and I look forward to hearing from you!

In the meantime, take a look at what I deem to be a CPG revolution!

 Photo Credit: Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home.

Photo Credit: Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home.

via Turnstylevogue

Refill station at EO's first store in Mill Valley, California.  via Zero Waste Home.

Grocery store of the past.

Grocery store of the future. In.gredients Austin. All photos below via The Delicious Philosophy.

Comments on this post ( 1 )

  • Oct 31, 2015

    I know this is an older post, but I’m just getting started on the Zero Waste band wagon. I think a shift away from packaging, in an idealistic world, could mean that people become more aware of quality seperate from package branding. Brands could still brand themselves, but it would shift from the shell of the goods. That means that brands that serve nearly the same product might become less distguishable from one another and would need a new way of distinguishing differences.

    Also, while buying in bulk removes the packaging that we take home, brands can still be somewhat creative in what the products are sold in (bulk bin appearance) which would need to be cordinated with shop owners.

    — Leilani Dong

Leave a comment