Plastic packaging from cosmetic and toiletry products are some of the many items that are choking our oceans and piling up on landfills. Around 552 million shampoo bottles are thrown away every year, and only 1 in 5 people consistently recycle items from their bathroom. Luckily, many eco-conscious designers are working on developing new alternatives to synthetic containers to help reduce our plastic footprint. One person fighting the good fight against plastic waste is Mi Zhou, a student at Central Saint Martins Material Futures master’s degree program. She has cleverly created bottles and jars made of soap called Soapack.
Zhou’s Soapack collection is cast from vegetable oil-based soap that melts away once they are no longer needed—even the “paper” instructions dissolve in water! A thin layer of beeswax is used to line the bottles to make them waterproof, preventing the liquid contents from leaking. Zhou explains, “It is designed to invite the user to use it or even deconstruct it and make it eventually disappear.”
The sustainable product is not only a genius, zero-waste solution to plastic packaging, but the collection also looks stylish and sophisticated. Featuring delicate stoppers and glass-like patterns, each translucent bottle is based on the shapes of classic perfume bottles. “I found that compared to shampoo bottles, we are more likely to keep perfume bottles which mostly are made of glass and look gorgeous,” says Zhou. “Even if the perfume is used up, we keep the bottles since they are too beautiful to be discarded.” Other than their dainty shapes, each Soapack container has been dyed using pigments from minerals, plants, and flowers, resulting in soft shades of pretty pastel gradients.
Zhou hopes her solution will help consumers rethink how they buy their beauty products. “We are living in a period of transition where we are encouraged to act ‘sustainably,’ in situations where there are few successful options provided,” she says. “We do need to encourage people to use alternatives to respect our environment better but not compromising in user experience.”
You can read more about Zhou’s project on the Central Saint Martins Material Futures catalog.