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The Irony Of The Soy Sauce Fish

We need to re-imagine product experiences rather than re-designing single items or asking for behavioral change.

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We started by trying to find out what our main drivers for the use of small plastic packages are, how these main drivers are satisfied and what impact this has on us and our environment by using a product which you can find in many places in the world - a take-away sushi box.

Looking closer at our sushi box, we noticed that everything is wrapped in plastic. The wasabi package contains only 2.6g, the soy sauce just 4 ml. Sometimes, the ginger is wrapped in plastic, too and they have a little green plastic fence to separate the items. To top it all off, the soy sauce package with its tiny red plastic lit is shaped like a fish. How ironic? It's the perfect example of our modern lifestyle needs. 

Our need to consume food & beverages on-the-go, our desire to eat fish & seafood anywhere anytime and our increasing demand for convenience leads to the production of several hundred million tons of plastic every year. Product design is primarily focused on simplicity, durability and convenience rather than its environmental impact. 

Who said, we always have to eat sushi with wasabi, soy sauce and ginger? As far as I remember, no-one told me. Yet, we are so used to it, that we accept the fact without asking what if

Kikkoman, the world's largest soy sauce brewer, still uses its original design for its iconic soy sauce glass bottle. A design that hasn't changed since 1961 and has been sold 400 million times. It took three years and approximately 100 prototypes. On the contrary, the soy sauce fish packaging was invented in 2008 by American Gary Murphy. It received an award for Outstanding Innovation in Packaging Design or Function and even NASA was so impressed, that they used it in spaceIt is made of recyclable material, too.

We all know, it is very hard and time-consuming to change someone's needs. We believe, that most people are not aware of the impacts when consuming products like our sushi box. I wasn't, until I actively looked into the subject.

How does this research relate to our Use Cases?

Use case #1: small single-use plastic packaging; wasabi = 2.6g, soy sauce = 4 ml

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

There are already many alternative solutions available, as you can see in all the contributions. It might be just a matter of tailoring them to satisfy our needs, rather than asking people to change their behaviour. A re-imagined sushi box might be a start. Not just re-designing a piece, but re-imagining the entire experience. Perhaps, it brings a change of behaviour in the long run.

Tell us about yourself

We are the founders of a social enterprise ( with the goal to end plastic pollution of our oceans.


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Photo of Shruti

I like the idea of re-tailoring the sushi box and using that as a packaging yardstick for other commodities to adopt. It's a simple idea that you illustrated very well.

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