Nowadays, “fancy” isn’t about luxury materials and extravagant designs. Instead, lavish design is more so sustainable than it is expensive. Alternative to landfills, trash is making its way back into homes as furniture. Alongside startup Pentatonic, Dutch company Plastic Whale is turning plastic waste into chic furniture pieces.
Plastic Whale recently announced a circular furniture collection, composed of a conference room table, chairs, lamps, and acoustic panels that are all made out of PET bottles from Amsterdam’s canals.
A thousand bottles make a single high-end felt and foam-paneled table, while 50 to 60 make a chair. Considering the amount of plastic polluting bodies of water, furniture selections have ridiculous amounts of potential to grow. Even better, Plastic Whale models its furniture after marine life.
Ten percent of the profits… will be invested in local projects in other parts of the world that aim to use a similar economic model to turn plastic waste into something valuable. The resources generated from the furniture will go into more plastic fishing expeditions.
In an industry constantly on the hunt for the best textiles and constituents, trash is certainly their treasure.
Who needs retail therapy when you have 3D printing? From furniture to electronics, the process has surpassed its own limits in just a few years. Now that brain tissue and functioning ears are part of 3D-printing catalogues, why not up the grandeur? Thanks to startup ICON, it’s totally possible to zap a 650 square foot home into existence in just under 24 hours.
“We have been building homes for communities in Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia,” [says] Alexandria Lafci, co-founder of New Story.
“It’s much cheaper than the typical American home,” [founder Jason] Ballard says.
ICON spends a modest $10,000 printing a single home, and aims to lower costs down to $4,000. The Austin-based group will initially bring houses into El Salvador and eventually the Americas. The modern huts will slash labor costs and produce minimal waste.
“(ICON) believes, as do I, that 3D printing is going to be a method for all kinds of housing,” [co-founder Alexandria Lafci] says.
If ICON can come up with affordable space habitats, I’d be the first off the planet.
Despite a growing abundance of zero-waste shopping options, other alternatives have yet to hit mainstream stores. In a supermarket first, Amsterdam’s Ekoplaza is making over 700 plastic-free products available to the public.
“We know that our customers are sick to death of products laden in layer after layer of thick plastic packaging,” Ekoplaza chief executive Erik Does said.
“Plastic-free aisles are a really innovative way of testing the compostable biomaterials that offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic packaging.”
With limited choices for items in non-plastic wrapping, bringing them to the masses makes a big statement. As an added bonus, manufacturing biodegradable containers won’t cost anything upwards from regular plastic materials. Ekoplaza will carry eco-friendly rice, sauces, snacks, and more packed in metal, glass, and cardboard.
“There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic,” [A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian] Sutherland said. “Plastic food and drink packaging remains useful for a matter of days yet remains a destructive presence on the Earth for centuries afterwards.”
As the greatest contributor to plastic waste in department stores, grocery aisles have long deserved eco-alternatives. Hopefully, they’re here to stay.
With dogs acting as cleaners for polluted rivers, it’s safe to say China isn’t taking in any more trash. As a large producer of waste, China has also become a dumping site for countries like Australia. In the hopes of getting clean, the world’s densest country is putting an end to foreign waste imports.
“The real opportunity in Australia is to create that circular economy that’s happening overseas and that’s what China is moving towards, where they’re saying we produce that material, we actually want to recycle that material and reuse it back in the economy,” said Gayle Sloan, the chief executive of the Waste Management Association of Australia.
The ban covers 24 categories of solid waste, among other things. In a single year, China will get to kiss 30 million tons of trash goodbye. However, the ban is forcing Australian recyclers to get creative. Recycling systems are getting a makeover, while startups are beginning to emerge.
“It’s unfair to create waste in the first instance without thinking where it’s going to go and how it’s going to be re-used.”
The ban may be tricky, but it’s also encouraging nations to take responsibility for the trash they produce. Anyway, it isn’t always another man’s treasure.
2017 has proven to be the year of anti-plastic ambassadors. Many groups are engineering alternatives for the material, whether to replace coffee capsules and even Legos. On the other hand, the Kenyan government wants to speed up the process by banning plastic bags entirely.
Beginning [August 28], if you’re carrying your groceries in a plastic bag or put out your trash in a disposable one, you could be fined up to $38,000 or be sent to jail for up to four years.
While the motion holds good intentions, it is economically stressing. Thousands of Kenyans work within the plastic industry. There are no cheap and readily available plastic alternatives.
“It’s not the plastic’s fault. It’s a lack of a system to collect the plastic and reuse it and make a value chain out of it beyond that first usage.”
The material may be affecting water, livestock, and public health, but the fact of the matter remains the same. Communities need to recycle. Let’s not forget that a single household’s segregated trash could make a world of a difference.
Only halfway through the year, we’ve consumed more resources than the planet can regenerate. It’s an unspoken tragedy most refuse to acknowledge. However, big industry names are stepping up to the plate by creating products using sustainable resources. We’re now seeing the rise of shoes made with algae and cosmetics made with fish waste. For the first time, this sustainable shoe box has also made an appearance.
Viupax [uses] 20-57% less cardboard and 20-50% less volume. The packaging system is designed to be cost efficient in matters of production and transportation, and above all, it’s designed to improve productivity and user experience.
The boxes are not only funky in design — they are easy to stack and carry. Because Viupax sports a handle, there is no need for paper shopping bags. The packaging can even be recycled into toys.
Like the saying goes, if the shoe fits… well, hopefully it’s eco-friendly.
Like most kids, I grew up hoarding various sets of Lego. While they may seem indestructible, surviving generations worth of hand-me-down rituals, they don’t actually last forever. I don’t mean this in the Lego-is-no-longer-cool sense (because kids can now use toys to program). A lot of Lego gets tossed and it’s pretty environmentally damaging. But not to worry — Lego is taking action by revamping their materials into bio-plastics.
Lego announced it would invest the equivalent of $155 million into finding a non-oil, smaller-footprint source for the various plastic they need to make all those tires, trees, and movie stars.
This is a big move for Lego, considering making and disposing of them is quite negatively impactful. For scale, Lego produces 19 billion pieces a year, but it is also looking for ways to offset waste.
The Lego company has also been reducing its carbon footprint through other means as well, including investing in an offshore wind farm. In fact, it recently met a 100% renewable energy milestone.
Lego’s ultimate goal is to work with at least 20 plastic alternatives by 2030. Until then, we’ll be off building castles and spaceships.
This year, sustainable fashion has become an inescapable trend — and we’re not complaining. All sorts of materials are being reused to create wearables that are identical to pieces that are entirely new. We’ve seen the birth of sportswear made from coffee and running shoes made with algae. Now, popular athletics brand La Sportiva has produced rock-climbing shoes made of almost entirely recycled materials.
La Sportiva put a spin on its latest model with the addition of the Eco Rubber, completely rebranding the otherwise harmful process used in the production of climbing shoes. The company utilizes biodegradable leather for the sole of the shoe and a tanning process that is completely metal free — no traces of mercury or chrome to be found.
The brand combines and repurposes leftover material to create the Eco Rubber. They also use fishing net to create laces and webbing.
The Mythos is an iconic climbing shoe that has been in La Sportiva’s arsenal for over a quarter of a century. Tried and true to boot, climbers covet the comfortable moccasin-style shoe that adapts to the shape of your foot.
Brands as renowned as La Sportiva becoming more eco-conscious is just what the industry needs. All they require is a gentle push.
Over the past year, we’ve seen recycling at its best, using old materials to create unexpected products. From backpacks made of car parts to trash packaging, many resources are proving that they can be useful even after expiring. This biodegradable grill is no exception. The CasusGrill is a one-use product — and you can toss it anywhere.
The grill is made from all natural materials that readily biodegrade… Its outer body is recycled cardboard. A layer of natural rocks form an inner shell, which insulate the cardboard from the flames… And then on the very inside, a flat layer of match-lit bamboo charcoal provides a perfectly even layer of heat. The grate above is made from bamboo, too.
The CasusGrill retails for only $8, a steal considering the product burns for around an hour. Comparatively, it decomposes much quicker than a disposable aluminum grill, which takes nearly 400 years to break down.
Those evenly spaced charcoal briquette disks? They’re far more geometrically efficient for distributing heat than dumping charcoal into a container would be. So you can get by with less charcoal.
While it may be costly to regular grillers, the product is definitely worth the buck for something more seasonal.