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The Disappearing Package – Can We Eliminate Package Waste?

Aaron Mickelson is completing his Masters Thesis in Packaging Design at Pratt Institute, a specialized university near downtown Brooklyn offering programs in the design, fine arts, architecture, fashion, and information and library science.

Aware of and sharing many consumer’s concern about the amount of packaging that is being thrown away, he recently created a series of eco-friendly packages designed to be consumed along with the products they contain, leaving no waste. Here is how Mickelson introduced his Masters Thesis project, The Disappearing Package:

Every year, we throw away a ton of packaging waste (actually, over 70 million tons). It makes up the single largest percentage of trash in our landfills (beating out industrial waste, electronics, food… everything). Figures released by the EPA indicate this problem is getting worse every year.

As a package designer (and grad student – meaning I know everything and can solve every problem, naturally), I was concerned about where this trend is going. Of course, many talented designers working in the field have made great efforts over the past few years to reduce the amount of packaging that goes onto a product. However, for my Masters Thesis, I asked the question: Can we eliminate that waste entirely?

Mickelson designed five pieces of startling creative and impressively viable environmentally friendly packaging. One is water-soluble; one is stitched sheets of individual single-use pods; one is a reusable container printed with soap-soluble ink; one is perforated packets folded accordion style; and in one the packaging doubles as the label and the product. None of them leave a trace of packaging waste behind when the consumer is finished with them.

Here are Aaron Mickelson’s ingenious disappearing packaging designs: 

Green Packaging Solution One:

Mickelson designed laundry detergent packaging with stitched together pods (printed with soap soluble ink) that are torn off and used one-by-one, until all of the “packaging” is gone:


Green Packaging Solution Two:

Food storage containers printed with soap-soluble (not water-soluble) ink. When the consumer washes it after using the contents, the eco-friendly packaging “label” breaks down completely and disappears, leaving an unlabelled reusable container.


Green Packaging Solution Three:


Individual tea packets are wax-lined to retain freshness, perforated together and folded up accordion style, eliminating unnecessary waste. 


Green Packaging Solution Four:

A bar of soap packaged in a septic-safe, water-soluble paper. Consumers take the whole package into the shower with them.The package dissolves when it gets wet, leaving nothing behind.


Green Packaging Solution Five:

A roll of trash bags printed with traditional oil-based inks on the outer trash bag in the roll. There is no box – bags are pulled out from the center, and the last bag is the package itself, leaving no extra trash when it gets used.

To contact the talented package designer Aaron Mickelson (who no doubt has a bright future ahead of him), or to view more pictures and details of his eco-friendly disappearing packaging, visit his website at

All images courtesy of Aaron Mickelson.



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