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In this fascinating look at the world of packaging, writer Daniel Imhoff and photographer/designer Roberto Carra give consumers, product designers, and policymakers the information we need to take steps toward a more sustainable future. They delve into the histories and life cycles of packaging materials and look at the countless ways that packaged goods shape our culture. Using case studies, they explore the positive trends that are changing packaging, including producer responsibility and "take-back" laws being enacted in Europe; the eco-design movement; plant-based plastics; labeling to disclose the ecological and social impacts of products; and producing and consuming locally and in bulk versus the wasteful global exchange of single-serving containers. Carra's remarkable color photographs illustrate both the important functions of packaging and its many unintended consequences around the globe.
Despite recent advances, the packaging problem keeps growing, Imhoff warns. Real solutions must incorporate new (or rediscovered) ways of producing, distributing, packaging, consuming, reusing, and reprocessing products and materials. As consumers, there's much we can do, and Paper or Plastic? offers a checklist for consumer action, along with resources for information on products, programs, and policy options. It's one book that is truly worth the recycled paper it's printed on.