Lizzie Wright
industrial design

Studies in Natural Packaging

Studies in natural packaging

Assessing production cycles and giving everyday materials more meaningful life.


This video shows the process involved in creating various bioplastics.

How might we transition to bioplastics in modern life?

The following drawings and experiments are a result of a study in Natural Materials and Natural Systems, an opportunity to explore material possibilities in response the current widespread use of non-renewable resources to create somewhat trivial products (i.e. plastic bags and cups). Over the course of several months, I kept a sketchbook to record and learn from my observations of the natural world. I learned to evaluate every product as a complex series of inputs and outputs that interact directly with the surrounding ecosystem. Through extensive research and experimentation, I ultimately produced a high-quality bioplastic that is both flexible and translucent, and can cure over the course of a few hours.       


Observed under an electron scanning microscope, the calyx of this "chinese lantern" (a member of the genus Physalis) has a transparency and rigidity similar to artifical polymers used for food packaging.



Magnoliopsida (Asteridae)


The genus physalis (a member of the nightshade family) is composed of several edible plants whose fruit is protected by a "calyx," which comes from the Ancient Greek word κάλυξ (kálux) meaning "husk.”  Tomatillos and ground cherries are commonly found in markets and grocery stores all over the world; and unlike many modern products, there is no need for artificial packaging to ensure preservation.  In fact, the fruits are sold still in-husk because their natural growth is a form of packaging in and of itself.

 Tomatillo Studies.

Tomatillo Studies.

 Sketchbook Pages: Research, Observations, Experiments

Sketchbook Pages: Research, Observations, Experiments

Experimenting with various ingredients, recipes, and fabrication methods yielded some interesting results.


While the material I created is entirely biodegradable, it still has a considerable ecological footprint in the beginning of its life.  The diverse ingredients necessary for my recipe are grown and manufactured all over the world, so it takes large amounts of energy to even get them in the same room.