The People’s Design Lab: A chance to make your voice be heard


Do you want to be part of something big? Revolutionary? Something that will literally change the way we – and the generations to come - live for the better?

“Who, me?!”, you might ask. “Who am I to make a difference?” In fact, for something big to come about, you have to start small. Start with one idea, one voice – in this case, one click. 


With just a click, you can participate in this year’s People’s Design Lab contest and help us to come up with innovative solutions to badly designed products. For the past three years, People’s Design Lab has been a catalyst for change, influencing consumers, manufacturers and policy makers to take a good look at everyday products and ask themselves if they are optimally designed to benefit ourselves and our environment. 


How does it work?

Well, it’s simple Business 101: Supply and Demand.


Whether we like it or not, all of us are consumers of something. Our “demands” determine the quality of the “supply”. If we are not happy with the products available on the market, there will be no market for them. With this great power comes great responsibility. By putting pressure on policy makers and manufacturers, we can set the standards that will ensure our own safety and that of our planet. 


All we need from you is your vote.


From microplastics to menstrual products, smartphones to Styrofoam, food contact materials to flame retardants in furniture – you can have your say and let us know which products you think desperately need to be redesigned or replaced by something less harmful. Vote for one product in each out of four main categories by 23rd November 2018, Buy Nothing Friday, and help us make a difference.


Take “Plastic food packaging” in the category “Overpackaging”, for example.


All my enthusiasm for healthy eating dissipates as soon as I enter the produce section of my local supermarket. Tomatoes, lettuce, apples, plums – all are packaged in plastic. These foods are supposed to contain the building blocks of a healthy nutrition. They hold within themselves the potential to create, to heal, to flourish. To package them in plastic defeats their purpose. Not only does the plastic contain harmful chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, linked to diseases such as cancer and infertility, but it cannot decompose, contaminating the very earth from which the produce came. 


Yes, packaging protects an otherwise delicate product, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables which need to be transported long distances and stored before they are ultimately consumed. It also keeps food fresher for longer – but there is always an alternative to plastic packaging.


What are the other alternatives?


We all know that homegrown or locally grown fruits and veggies are always your best bet. I don’t have much of a green thumb but fortunately our bi-weekly farmer’s market is abundant in delicious (non-packaged) produce grown in season. Sadly, not everyone has the time to frequent these markets. Supermarkets on the other hand have made shopping at late hours possible. And since many people do their grocery shopping at grocery stores and supermarkets, they need to seriously consider providing alternatives. 


Fortunately, packaging-free shops are popping up all over Europe and buying in bulk is coming back in trend. Things shouldn’t stop there though! Non-plastic food packaging has huge potential for growth and together with your help, the People`s Design Lab can make a change.


Your vote can make a change!

Ruth Wachsmuth is a global citizen, inspired to write about matters close to her heart. She lives in Germany with her husband and son.