Often, we see poor examples of packaging design that lead to more junk for us to deal with and more waste in the landfill. In the spirit of taking your own bags to the grocery store, here are some picks for packaging that does a more than just wrap up your stuff.
1) The television packaging designed by Tom Ballhatchet actually becomes the television stand. Putting wheels on it for easy transport home, Ballhatchet designed the areas that the screen occupied inside the package to be used as shelves for the TV stand (the wheels come off and go underneath), and the result is the first large appliance packaging we've seen that won't end up in the recycle bin or landfill when you get it unpacked.
2) The San Francisco-based designers at knoend have devised a functional lighting system that uses the packaging as the product, practically eliminating any waste that would ordinarily come with unwrapping or opening the packaging. The outer shell of the package becomes the shade for the lamp, leaving just a cardboard band and some hemp twine, both of which are either easily recycled or composted.
3) Dutch designer David Graas came up with a variety of cardboard furniture that uses its packaging as structure; he says, "You not only assemble this stool yourself, but, because product and packaging are both made from cardboard, also finish it yourself. Two parts of the stool are simply cut loose from the box where the remaining six parts are packaged in." Two more picks, beneath the fold...
4) Designer Olivia Cheung's Light Bulb Packaging is an intricate, laser-cut paper box that transforms from protective shell to beautiful lamp in a few quick bends and folds, leaving nothing to throw away, and nothing for you to do but bask in its warm glowing warming glow. Just be sure to pop a compact fluorescent bulb in there before lighting up.
5) A couple of Israeli designers, though a step away from making a product we really love, certainly have their design eyes pointed in the right direction. Their packaging concept "Zero Thick" turns the package into the product. Prototypes include packaging for candles, which turns into the candlestick holders, or packaging for pencils which is also made into a sharpener.