Good design can really sucker you into buying things you don’t need. Pretty packaging, cool fonts, and a warm color palette have all tempted me before. Of course, in the world of marketing, that’s kind of the idea, isn’t it? Still, I’m resolute in swearing off items sold with excessive packaging and emailing companies that for some reason choose to do things like sell items such as paper towels in bulk yet wrap them individually, as if to preserve freshness like they’re snack cakes. I buy in bulk to save on packaging, not because as a single person I like to pretend I’m buying for a family of seven; enough with the added packaging layers.
Like every responsible environmentalist, I’m more apt to buy products when companies forgo packaging altogether (when safety allows), or when there’s an inventive use of packaging. Take, for example, this biodegradable Twist sponge I bought to reduce paper towel waste. The product was a good idea with cool design elements like the texture and colors, but it was the fact that the packaging could be cut and folded to make a bird feeder that really appealed to me. OK, so maybe the bird feeder was flimsy in practice and maybe a sponge doesn’t actually need packaging come to think of it (the company seems to have minimized packaging since), but the intent was appreciated.
Of course, sometimes clever packaging still tempts me. Case in point, I was standing in Whole Foods the other day, arrested by the simplicity of a new-to-me yogurt called siggi’s that comes in little tubs wrapped with a cardboard label featuring sweet, simple illustrations of berries and pears. They were so cute that I actually had to remind myself that despite the enticing blurb that described it as “an Icelandic style skyr” (no idea) and the cute, recyclable packaging, I don’t even like yogurt. Damn you, good design.