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Creativity + Commerce Honorable Mention: Pangea Organics

This is the first year that Print is honoring submissions created with a focus on sustainability, and we’re happy to report that we had many excellent candidates from which to choose. It’s heartening that our call for information on ecologically sound materials and processes elicited so many submissions.

Pangea Organics’ Holiday Gift Boxes stood out in this conscientious crowd—not just because its materials are ecologically sound, but also because they defy the excessive norm of the gift-box genre. As Jeremy Lehrer, a Print contributing editor and our “Best Practices” columnist, who was our judge for this honorable mention, explained: “We wanted to recognize something that uses a more sustainable design principle on a mass-produced scale.”

The Pangea gift set goes beyond reducing waste; it reincarnates the packaging as something useful—a Colorado Blue Spruce tree. “We wanted to create a gift item that not only embodies sustainability within the package design but can begin another life,” says designer Josh Ivy. The casing material is compostable and biodegradable, with spruce seeds embedded in its walls. The entire piece can be planted immediately.

Pangea had already implemented the idea for plantable packaging in clamshell-style cases for soap. But trying to replicate those clamshells in a larger size came with major structural challenges. The manufacturer created a staggered pattern within the walls to hold the weight of the products within, creating ridges on the exterior. An enlarged outer label conceals the ridges.

According to Ivy, the cost and limited availability of new ecofriendly material to smaller companies were among the project’s greater obstacles. Finding a manufacturer who “has a solid understanding of the new materials to effectively put it into production” remains difficult. But Joshua Onysko, the founder and CEO of Pangea Organics, notes that the important thing is “to remind people that we must start to think about the way we create and design. Once something is used for its purpose, it should have another purpose to fulfill.” Lehrer commended this approach: “The fact that you can skip recycling—just plant the packaging, and you’ll get a tree in your backyard—is fantastic.”