Natural Model: the Cow

Nature operates under the condition of limited and finite resources. It therefore reuses, recycles, rebuilds everything it needs to sustain life.

One organism’s waste is another’s food or building material. ~ The Way Life Works [1]

cowPhoto credit The cow grazes on a field of grass. The grass gives it nutrition, energy and sugar to grow. Everything the cow eats eventually lands back in the grass, where bacteria turns that material back into soil. With the help of earthworms, air and water can penetrate the soil and allow new grass to grow [1].


Graphic Design

Within graphic design, packaging is an area that requires a lot of material. Some companies have successfully reduced the amount of materials required to do the same thing. Aveda is one of them. Their mission is to…

“…care for the world we live in, from the products we make to the ways in which we give back to society. At aveda, we strive to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility, not just in the world of beauty, but around the world [2] .”

aveda lipstickOne strategy that became quite successful is their packaging. Aveda claims to be the first company to produce packaging made from 100% post-consumer recycled PET plastic. Their lipsticks come with a separate shell that allows for a lipstick cartridge to be dropped in whenever it needs to be replaced [3].


In a more strategic application, the cardboard-to-caviar project is an excellent example of how businesses can leverage the idea of a closed-loop system. The green business network in the UK started a sturgeon egg farm. They decided to collect cardboard from stores and restaurants and sell those to horse stables after shredding it. There the cardboard is used as bedding for the horses. Once the cardboard was soiled, that mixture of horse waste and cardboard was used as food on a compost pile to raise worms which then were fed to the sturgeons who will produce the eggs, aka caviar, and then is sold back to the restaurants.

1. Hoagland, M., & Dodson, B. (1998). The Way Life Works: The Science Lover’s Illustrated Guide to How Life Grows, Develops, Reproduces, and Gets Along. New York, NY: Times Books.

2. Aveda
3. molded-pulp