“The American Dream is to turn goods into trash as fast as possible,” writer Russell Baker said over 40 years ago. Increasingly, the same thing could be said for the rest of the world, and that’s especially true for product packaging, which tends to be tossed out seconds after it reaches a consumer.
Even beverage bottles, which are more likely to be recycled than other packaging, end up in the trash more than half of the time in most countries. A Turkish designer hopes to give people an extra reason to keep bottles out of the landfill. In his design, Bora Yildirim created milk bottles that turn into toys: Each bottle and cap can connect to another to make Lego-like building blocks.
The designer was inspired by his daughter. “Since she was a baby, she has been more interested in playing with product packages such as plastic bottles and carton boxes rather than the toys we bought for her,” Yildirim says. “Her choice of these items as toys to play with inspired me to rethink packaging.”
By replacing traditional plain milk bottles with brightly-colored designs that turn into toys, Yildirim hopes to motivate kids to drink more milk instead of something like soda. But he also wanted to help kids start to think about how materials are used and trashed.
“I wanted to redesign a package that will both make kids be aware of reuse and recycling starting at very early ages and also involve them in productive activities while not sacrificing fun,” he says.
Adults, he hopes, may be equally interested in buying the packages. “Many of my friends and myself happen will probably play with these reusable packages before the children,” he says. “Some of the toys I am planning to make are an air mattress as a beach toy for myself and a playhouse for my daughter.”
After recently patenting the design, Yildirim is meeting with companies to work on bringing it to the market. He envisions beverage companies using the packages as part of a larger program that also incorporates reuse.
“The company may initiate take-back programs to collect the packages and give away other toys,” he says. “Or they may reward returning used packages for an additional reuse opportunity, which in turn, will reduce the company’s over-production of the packages.”