We love it when designers find new, eco friendly alternatives to conventional materials — sugar based plastics, paint made from recycled plastic bottles, rubber made from dandelions — but just substituting a “green” material for a conventional one isn’t always the best idea. Take, for example, this cardboard vacuum cleaner by Vax, made from recycled plastic with an outer form that is constructed from the cardboard that it comes packaged in. Vacuum cleaners are made out of hard plastics for a reason — because they need to be durable. The best way to be truly sustainable is to make things that will last forever, not things that you can throw away without feeling bad about yourself. So in this case, we’re going to have to say that this particular use of cardboard is not the best idea.
We commend the designer of the Vax ev vacuum for using recycled and recyclable plastic for many of the components but he could have gone a step further with the outer design. The press release announcing the Vax ev says “the corrugated cardboard panels that form the body of the Vax ev are easily replaced if damaged and cost just a tenth of the price of an equivalent plastic panel.” This is the kind of thinking that got us into the deadly consumer cycle in the first place.
Cheap disposable things are not the answer, a better option would be to make the outside of this vacuum from the same durable recycled plastic that the inside is made from. Then you don’t have to worry about ever replacing it — which will save you a ton of cash on replacement parts and the landfill a whole bunch of cardboard. Though, all waste issues aside, it is pretty cool that you can take a felt tip pen to this guy and customize it — the drawings on the item above were done by an artist — but couldn’t they just as well sell us a white recycled plastic vacuum with a black sharpie and call it a day?