Are Melting Clothes Tags a Solution for Saving Trees?

Image via Yanko Design

This concept for clothes tags that melt in the wash popped up on Yanko the other day and I've been thinking about it and what it says about sustainability within design. The idea is a tag that can be tossed in the wash with the clothing item and it dissolves in the water, effectively disappearing -- and, according to the designer, saving trees in the process. But does that make it a greener design?The English translation in the graphics is terrible, but the general idea is that the tag would be made from some sort of soap product that melts in water like a paper-soap. The thinking is that people wash new clothes before wearing them, so why not make the tag your soap for the wash load, and spare some trees.

However, there's some gaping holes in the design -- what soap-like material could be printed on and withstand the wear from manufacturer to store to buyers' homes? Would it be an environmentally friendly soap made from all-natural resources? Would using soap really have a smaller footprint than using FSC trees for labels? Plus, it requires water to be disposed of...not the most sustainable idea.

Just because it won't end up in a trash bin and doesn't use trees, doesn't make something a greener design. Looking at the entire footprint of a product, including the carbon and water footprints of every stage of production, is an absolute must for designers trying to push sustainable products. Unfortunately, it seems like solutions are too often only halfway thought out, and quite often far less practical. Instead, a better idea could be making what tags end up on clothes much more efficient -- smaller in size or smarter in efficiency, and having just one tag per item (instead of the two, three and sometimes even four tags on certain clothing items) would help as well.

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Tags: Concepts & Prototypes | Designers