30 April 2010

Innovative? Yes Practical? No


I want to discuss how a good idea can end up being a bad one.  Enough has been said about 1 million t shirts and I frankly do not consider it to be a good idea in the first place.  On the other hand, Project Dream Ball is more interesting to discuss.  It’s idea is to use packaging to create soccer balls for kids in the third world.


  • Kids love soccer.  This gives them the chance to play their favorite sport because they can’t without a ball.
  • All materials are used.  The package is the ball and the ball is the package.  Everything sent is used and there is no trash.
  • It is cheaper than a soccer ball.  Being that it is made of heavyweight paper, it is lighter and easier to ship.
  • It can carry things.  If you are going to be sending packages why not make the box useful.  Again less trash.


  • Little need. I base this on my experience and the fact that the kids would take used plastic grocery bags and string to form their own balls.
  • Creates MORE trash.  The balls will eventually break and become trash.  Often people discuss the wonder of spending a week in a country where they got to see the joy of kids getting a soccer ball.  What they do not see is that the ball lasts about a week before someone puts a stick in it (that really happened) or it breaks from extreme use.  Yes, this is a cheaper option but one that is much less durable and more likely to break quickly.
  • Is predicated on sending aid supplies.  There are many times when it is useful to have this sent to areas (ie. Haiti), but sending aid supplies to every third world person is simply unsustainable and inefficient.
  • Over supply.  If you send a bulk of these to one place then every kid will have a ball.  This will end up as more trash and many likely burned or used for other things.
  • Makes use to specific.  Some people will save boxes for other uses.  This makes it hard to reuse when it is already pre-cut to turn into a ball.


Overall it is not a terrible idea.  If an aid package is going to be sent, a creative way for using the box is a step in the right direction.  This is a project where it identifies that there is a desire for a certain good and seeks to provide it while being mindful of the environment, cost, and use.  At the very least, this project shows that there was some thought into its development and implementation.  I would not suggest completely disregarding it and abandoning the idea, but encourage the people who were clever enough to come up with this to continue to tweek it.  The problem remains that there will still be waste created by the packaging inside of the box and the balls will not last for very long.  Innovative idea? Yes.  Entirely practical? I argue no.

Have I missed anything?  Please correct me or add anything I might not have considered.