In 2018, the United States generated 37.4 million more U.S. tons of paper and cardboard material compared to in 1960 (EPA, 2020). As the United States produces a disproportionate amount of packaging waste every year when accounting for population size, it has become increasingly difficult to mitigate waste production, lessen the environmental impact of generating more paperboard materials, and move towards a more ethical circular economy. In efforts to adopt the principles of a green economy, deviate from the linear supply chain model, minimize packaging waste, and encourage more sustainable lifestyles, we developed a business centered around a circular, service based model called Room & Cardboard. Our initiative collects cardboard waste generated in and around the ASU community and repurposes it for dorm-style furniture available for students to rent throughout the school year. Using cardboard, we have built prototypes for two products (desk lamps and shoe racks) that are sturdy, visually pleasing, and recyclable. Our initiative helps to reduce cardboard packaging waste by upcycling cardboard waste into products that will increase the lifespan of the cardboard material. At the end of the product’s life span, in cases of severe damage, we will turn the product into a seed board made with blended cardboard paste that can then be used to plant a succulent we will make available to students to buy as dorm decor. The feedback on our initiative through online surveys and in-person tabling has generated enough traction for Dean Rendell of Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University to consider a test-drive of our products in the upcoming Fall semester.
- Room & Cardboard