Dieline's Top 10 Sustainable Design Articles of 2020

by Andrew Gibbs on 12/22/2020 | 2 Minute Read

Some may have feared that, as 2020 unrolled the way it did, that sustainability and the drive for plastic-free packaging would take a back seat to more pressing matters like a worsening pandemic, the fight against racial injustice, and the most contentious presidential election in modern US history.

Some initiatives, such as single-use shopping bag bans, found themselves postponed as a result of coronavirus, and firms that had encouraged bringing reusable cups like Starbucks suspended the practice over fears of viral transmission. With mask mandates in place in most places, folks turned to disposable masks and gloves to safely run mundane errands such as grocery shopping. This increase in plastic use as personal protection equipment can certainly be disheartening to those concerned about the future of the planet.

But, surprisingly, COVID-19 served as a call to action when it comes to plastic and wasteful packaging. Increased reliance on takeout and delivery, as well as online shopping, gave quarantined consumers a stark view of how much trash they generate daily, much of it plastic or unrecyclable. Staying-at-home has also inspired innovative food packaging solutions that don’t rely on materials detrimental to the environment. Designs not inspired by the pandemic but shared in 2020 gained increased significance in a world both on the precipice of death-by-garbage and also suffering a global epidemiological crisis.

The top 10 sustainable projects from 2020 are all focused on increased sustainability but different in their approach. Some are ambitious redesigns of packaging we’ve long taken for granted, such as plastic shopping bags and instant ramen. Others are simple changes that seem small but amount to a significant reduction in the use of plastic if scaled up. 

Regardless, they point to an industry that's very much at a crossroads but continues to innovate despite plenty of overwhelming odds. 


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