New “Tree in a Bottle” Changes The Way We View Eco-Packaging

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O’right Tree in a Bottle

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With scientists the world stressing the need for society to become more sustainable, the environmentally-safe marketing has exploded. “Green” and “biodegradable” have become commonplace labels on many consumer items, making it difficult for these items to stand out in supermarket aisles. Consequently, companies have become hard-pressed to find better, more sustainable ways to create their products – a great example of how competition drives innovation.

O’right, a brand distributed in North America by Organic Salon Systems, has designed just such an innovation for their salon-quality shampoo. O’right has created a “Tree in a Bottle” type of eco-packaging by combining biodegradable plastics with traditional composting methods; by placing small, pre-packaged seeds within a nutrient-rich bottle, consumers are able to ‘plant’ their empty bottle and watch as a tree grows in its place. Acting as the seed’s personal compost system, it takes the bottle 8 months to degrade enough to ‘release’ the seeds from their container at the bottom of the bottle. It takes another 4 months before the seed truly begins to take root. Since the seed container can be fitted with any type of plant seed, the consumer can choose a tree that is appropriate to plant.

Individually, the technology isn’t really something new – biodegradable plastics have been in the market for years. However, the addition of pre-given seeds changes the whole outlook of the eco-packaging industry. It isn’t simply an environmentally safe bottle, one which you could either throw into your recycling or your garden depending on your mood. It is a bottle that is meant to be planted, to be brought back into the earth rather than be recycled; it imparts an active responsibility to the consumer that isn’t present in other biodegradable consumer items.

And that’s what’s so unique and so important about O’right’s Tree in a Bottle. It isn’t the sustainability of the bottle, and it isn’t about the seed inside it. It’s about the feeling of responsibility to do something good for the environment. It’s this kind of responsibility that’s the seed for a proper, sustainable lifestyle; it’s about being responsible for the planet, rather than simply being responsible for the products you buy. While subtle, it’s the difference between being a passive consumer and being an active eco-activist – and with the earth’s current state of affairs, we need much more of the latter.

With so many consumer products being labelled eco-friendly these days, eco-activism is being boiled down to buying the greenest products and buying the most sustainable alternative. While that’s certainly more responsible than buying regular consumer items, it isn’t enough to steer us on the right track – it’s only enough to prolong the crash. If we really want to get better from here, it will only be through active participation.

  • Jerico Espinas

    Jerico is an English and Creative Writing student at the University of Toronto. He believes strongly in technology’s potential to reverse the damage that’s been done to the environment – if we can only cooperate as a global community! He hopes that, by writing progressive and informed articles, he too can make a difference in his community.

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