Packaging Design
Adapted from AVR - Teachers' Resource Guide, Association for Vermont Recyclers
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social science
home economics
industrial arts
CONCEPT: Packaging is useful and necessary for many reasons, but also contributes significantly to our society's solid waste problems.
OBJECTIVE: Students will explore different aspects of packaging design and will use these guidelines in their own design project.
MATERIALS: magazines and drawing materials
KEYWORDS: design, prototype
Functions and benefits of packaging:
* preservation and protection of contents
* sanitation and safety, protection of public health
* identification of product
* prevention of theft
* providing instruction as to product use
* compliance with regulatory standards
* manufacturing of packaging provides employment
* increased sales and profits by making the product attractive
* may decrease cost of product to consumer
Drawbacks of packaging:
* contributes significantly to solid waste (1/3 of our trash is packaging). Without reuse or recycling, the energy and natural resources that go into packaging are lost forever in landfills
* may create false impression about the amount or quality of product
* may increase the cost of a product to the consumer
How could packaging be designed to waste less?
1. Have students bring in products from home or look in lunch bags for packaged items. Consider the following questions:
- Which packages minimize waste? How?
- Which packages produce a lot of waste? How?
- What are possible ways to reuse or recycle each of the packages discussed?
- Are there any that can't be reused or recycled? Why?
- What qualities do the natural forms of packaging have that many of our modern packaging lack?
- How might some of the over-packaged or wastefully packaged items be better packaged?
2. Have students choose one of the products for which they would like to design an alternative package.
3. Ask the students to look at their products and decide what the designers were trying to accomplish. Discuss the functions and drawbacks of packaging. Are any of the products or packages designed to protect the environment?
4. Have the students design a new environmentally-sound alternative to their packaging. The design should take into consideration waste reduction, reuse, and recycling as well as public safety, product protection, shipping weight, cost of packaging material, advertising, and public demand. New design parameters should include some or all of the following: minimum resource extraction, minimum use of hazardous materials, minimum mixing of different materials, etc. How do these new parameters conflict with or limit the old ones?
5. Have the students make drawings of prototypes, present them to the class and explain how their design decisions were made.
FOLLOW-UP: Explore what makes students decide what items to purchase.
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