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HoldOn: A Plant-Based Trash Bag for a Sustainable Future

by Nooneh Gyurjyan on 09/14/2022 | 4 Minute Read

100 billion. 

That’s how many plastic bags Americans use every year, plastic bags bound for landfills that take hundreds of years to decompose, all while emitting harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Now meet HoldOn, the sustainable household goods brand trying to turn the tide on plastic waste through an array of plant-based, home-compostable, and non-toxic trash and storage bags. In this age of greenwashing, HoldOn conceives of a conscious effort to implement real change and reduce plastic pollution by actively working to make incorporating sustainability into our daily lives just a bit easier. 

HoldOn’s compostable tie and toss bags are made from biodegradable polymer PBAT, polylactic acid derived from organic, renewable sources and cornstarch. Once the bags hit a landfill, they dissolve in a matter of weeks—not years—when exposed to heat and air. Additionally, they emit no methane gas or toxic residue as they degrade. As a product that transforms mundane chores into a gratifying experience, HoldOn positions itself as a no-brainer alternative suggesting that sustainability doesn’t have to be this hard.

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To visually realize its mission, the company worked with the UK design agency Derek&Eric

“HoldOn is a brand on a mission to bring people together to make changes through small, everyday actions that have a big impact on our planet. It’s a brand with a strong voice that needs to be heard,” said Derek&Eric’s creative partner Alex Stewart about the project.

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The ordinary action of taking out the trash is translated into a big mission relayed by a bold voice, reflected in the design choice to give the packaging a type-heavy look that speaks for itself and broadcasts the company’s message. “This is a brand with real substance, and that means copywriting is a key brand element to tell the story, hence a typography-centric approach,” Stewart said. “We borrowed from the visual codes of protest movements in line with our commitment to positive change, but also sought to portray the down-to-earth nature of a product that needs to be ‘up to the job,’ which is imperative in the category.”

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The challenge with marketing any sustainable product is promising that it will perform better than the usual products people are already familiar with and purchase on auto-pilot. Trash and refuse bags are no different, a category that has seen no genuine innovations. 

The goal was to achieve sustainability without sacrifice and reassuring consumers of HoldOn’s green impact while guaranteeing that the bags were strong enough for the job. “The challenge comes balancing this impact with the need to reassure people that the product is strong enough for the job. So many of the ‘green’ alternatives fall apart as soon as they face the reality of a kitchen trash can,” said Stewart. 

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The bold simplicity of the design also finds the visual balance between looking planet-kind and heavy-duty. "The design had to feel different enough to get people to consider changing their buying behavior, but reassuringly ‘mass’ enough for them to actually purchase," Stewart added.

What's more, the brand sets itself apart by displaying its logo and messaging confidently on every touchpoint of the design, including the actual bags. “Unlike other comparable brands, we decided to proudly put our logo and mission on the bags themselves. It helps bring a new dimension to ‘curb appeal” when putting the bags out on trash day,” said Stewart of the design. 

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HoldOn's messaging and protest-inspired visual code make clear their unflinching stance on sustainability; it's an essential component of the design that distinguishes them and solidifies their mission. "Client and Copywriter Peter Albores helped us by creating an amazing tone of voice to bring the brand purpose to life," said Stewart. The brand’s identity built around emphasized typography acts as a beacon to sell the product, with the brand world helping to support and bring the mission to life. Ideally, that leads to consumers making more sustainable choices.

Ultimately, Derek&Eric succeed in dreaming up a spirited platform for HoldOn's uncompromising message, fostering hope for a better and more eco-friendly future. “We think the solution is a nice balance of delivering the purpose and mission we want people to join with the power and strength of the product they need,” Stewart said.

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