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Nowhere Near Frustration Free

Senior Thesis, Spring 2020 UIC School of Design


We are not above nature. We are not separate from it. We strive to live with it, while knowingly abusing it to our demise. Our tools, our methods of survival, rely on a cohesive system of trust that we have ignored for our own greed. Amazon’s frustration-free packages, introduced in 2018, replaced 305 million pounds of cardboard packaging but only 4% of these new plastic envelopes are recycled. The reason is the label, considered ‘contamination’ by most recycling operations because of the adhesive that causes machines to jam. In Chicago, the overall recycling rate is 9%, the lowest in the nation. The best in the nation is San Jose, at 79%. Chicago being Chicago, Amazon’s so-called frustration-free packaging is recorded as recyclable, which means the ‘green’ waste collection companies charge the city for recycling services, when in fact it ends up on the trash heap. As a designer, I’m interested in creating work that flips the focus from sustainable production to sustainable consumption. By giving Amazon’s frustration-free packaging a second life as DIY totes, pouches, and portfolios (for instance), consumers do their part to keep it out of trash systems where it can’t be recycled.