Environmentally-friendly shouldn’t mean people-unfriendly


I got a new computer last week, which meant dealing with a pile of cardboard boxes, clamshell packages, and other shipping materials. For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised at how few of the components came in those impossible-to-open plastic packages. However, one aspect of the packaging struck me as a bit ironic.

In particular, the computer itself was touted as being environmentally-friendly, and the product box was comprised of paper and plastic that seemed to be recyclable. Some parts of the box came apart easily. Breaking down the outer box was another story. I had to tear off a bunch of foam that had been glued on to the upper lid, and then use scissors to cut the corners enough so that the box could be folded flat. The process probably took me 15 minutes for what should have taken about a minute or so.

I’m sure it’s not easy to design packaging that looks good, protects the product inside, is affordable to produce, and is easy for customers to break down for recycling. However, my recent experience suggests that few manufacturers are even thinking about that last step and its impact on the customer experience. So the next time you’re designing something that will be touted as environmentally-friendly, try to make sure that it will be people-friendly, too.