Aadrit - Thinking Out of the Box

Hello everyone, and welcome back to my blog. In my second blog post, I would like to share with you a little part of the steps on how my project came to life. The problem that I wanted to solve was right under my nose. It was bothering me every time I had to open another Amazon package and throw it into the recycling. As I said in my last blog post, with the raging COVID-19 pandemic, my household had a huge influx of online orders. With every order, another box was added to the recycling. Every now and then, I saw reports on how landfills everywhere were getting filled up and causing environmental damage. With each box we threw out, we made the problem worse.

Now that I found the problem, I had to find a solution. To find a good solution, it would take a lot of time. I first had to understand the problem fully, meaning I had to do tons of research on cardboard boxes filling up landfills. For example, did you know that corrugated boxes, which are used in e-commerce packaging, were the largest single product category of municipal solid waste in 2018? Another problem I saw was that sometimes large boxes were used to ship small items. This would cause more material to be wasted and the filler material used, such as bubble wrap, to add to the landfills. 

I started thinking, “How can I stop cardboard boxes from filling up the landfills, and also reduce the amount of filler material?” While brainstorming ideas, I suddenly remembered how I used to build with LEGOs and how the smaller pieces could join to create bigger structures. This, combined with the concept of a reusable box that could fit the item to ship, gave me the idea to create a scalable box.

I have started meeting with my 3M mentor, Ms. Mary Brown, and talked with her about how to improve on my original idea. She has already been an amazing guide. Listening to her inspiring words got me thinking “Why do people become scientists?” I always wanted to become a scientist because of my curiosity to learn and how I want to solve problems in my home and in the world. I wonder if the scientists at 3M and in the world feel the same way. Perhaps as I keep working, I will be able to meet other scientists and ask them about their own reasons in-person. This project and challenge is inspiring me to use my knowledge to give back to our Planet Earth. 

Stay tuned for my next post, 

~Aadrit Talukdar