As one of the world’s most in-demand resources, paper has a massive carbon footprint. Because of the waste it creates, many are recycling or seeking paper alternatives. Startup MOO produces business cards made with fabric waste, while Paper Saver is a no-new-paper journal. Now, a Dutch province is recycling tons of toilet paper into a 1km bike path for cyclists.
The bicycle path uses what’s called tertiary cellulose, extracted from waste streams, says Erik Pijlman, director at KNN Cellulose, one of the partners on the project. “We take the cellulose out of these streams and once again make it into a [raw material],”
But not to worry — you won’t be seeing any remnants of used tissues on the bike path. The process includes sifting paper fibers, which are then cleaned, sterilized, bleached, and dried. To say the technique is doing fine is an understatement — it’s taking over Dutch roads.
“What we did is not only create technology and prove that it works, but we also have a market that is willing to take in the material,” Pijlman says. “And that’s really the next step in this kind of development.”
The fiber can also be used in creating filters, biofuel, and textiles, among other things. Of course, while in theory it’s useful in creating other products, we’ll keep it away from direct human contact. No one wants a stinky pillow case.
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.
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.
People don’t always recycle. But when they do, the results are often fascinating. After all, who knew you could build a lamp using a plastic bottle and bleach? The fact of the matter is, while big industries may pioneer sustainability, not everyone will follow suit. This is why Costa Rica aims to be the first country to eliminate single-use plastics by 2021.
The Central American nation intends to replace these wasteful, ocean-clogging items—such as plastic store bags, straws, coffee stirrers, containers and plastic cutlery—for biodegradable or water-soluble alternatives, or products made of renewable materials.
Costa Rica’s government is seeking help from both public and private sectors in performing strategic actions. The country has proven itself an environmental leader, using renewable energy and gradually becoming carbon neutral. However, its landscape is often a dumpsite for waste.
“Although the country has been an example to the world by reversing deforestation and doubling its forest cover from 26 percent in 1984 to more than 52 percent this year, today one fifth of the 4,000 tonnes of solid waste produced daily is not collected and ends up as part of the Costa Rican landscape, also polluting rivers and beaches,”
Single-use plastics are a problem worldwide, but Costa Rica hopes to lead by example. Though eliminating such a common material may be a struggle, the results may well be worth it.
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.
Since growing your own furniture became a reality, other eco-friendly furniture options have been coming to light. Startup Pentatonic is turning the contents of your daily trash bin into fancy sustainable furniture.
“Subject to what product, finish or performance we are looking for, we select trash based upon its properties and application possibilities, and then apply this technology using a number of precision manufacturing processes,”
Assembly of the pieces do not require tools — a valiant effort to eliminate toxic glues. The company is also introducing a unique “circular economy” system for customers.
“Our circular model, whereby we buy back our products from our consumers to recycle them into new products – that’s new in a design space.”
Pentatonic has put forward an incredibly smart initiative, winning over the hearts of environmentalists. The company has since raised £4.3 million in funding for its launch. Are you purchasing a trash couch? I’m certainly thinking about it.
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.
Trends may come and go, but eco-conscious clothing looks like it’s here to stay. If you’re planning to revamp your wardrobe into something more environmentally friendly, you may want to invest in Rumi X. The sustainable sportswear brand reuses plastic and even coffee grounds.
‘Rumi X was born out of my three passions: spirituality, yoga, and nature,’ [said creator Melissa Chu]
‘I wanted to develop something that spoke to the devotion of my practice and honour my source of energy from spirituality, while simultaneously ensuring that our products were environmentally impactful and contributing to the solution, not being part of the problem.’
Chu further explains that Rumi X is about being mindful of oneself and of others. As with most environmental activists, Rumi X begins with awareness.
‘Rumi X is about living a mindful lifestyle, taking care of yourself within, and being good to the world around you,’
‘We take care of our body, mind, and soul, and we take care of others around us to feel good.’
Rumi has not only done a great job recycling and upcycling materials, it is also affordable and accessible to customers.
‘Whether you are reducing your plastic waste or inspired to develop sustainable products as a business, we do hope that we can inspire each individual to become more mindful in their everyday life,’
If you are picking up coffee wear any time soon, I hear it also does wonders for body odor. Work that body out!
Being low on resources, we have finally turned to using recycled materials–and it’s about time! We’re making art out of trash and purchasing notebooks that reuse paper. But the notion of upcyling takes everything to a whole new level, especially with the Airpaq backpack made of used car parts.
The bags… are rather simple in design, with a single large compartment made from an airbag… with a car seat belt buckle securing the top. The inside of the main compartment includes separate areas for a tablet and laptop, plus smaller compartments for those little items that need to be secured, and the whole thing is lined with water repellent fabric. Seat belts form the straps of the backpack, which have some added padding on the shoulders, and a woven panel of seat belts is used for the back panel of the bag.
Each backpack sports a unique look, its parts from various car models that aren’t always similar in style. Creators Adrian and Michael are obvious fans of sustainability. They hope to inspire buyers to become more creative and ecological.
“We are passionate about the idea of creating alternative uses for things that otherwise would end up in the trash.”
If you’ve got a beat-up truck with parts to spare, perhaps you may be looking at a brand new Airpaq!
Looks like Home Depot is going to see a dip in sales because homegrown furniture is now a reality. Evocative Design is offering consumers a “Grow It Yourself” initiative using mushroom-based materials. (Unfortunately, you can’t choose to eat them.)
[The kit] designed to use the same mycelium (that’s the vegetative part of a fungus) technology to give customers at home the chance to create their own projects and products.
“College design students [have] created everything from a piggybank to jewelry to a guitar. Makers have created chairs, clocks and even a wedding dress.”
For busybodies, pre-grown kits are available for no-hassle assembly. Otherwise, customers can order a bag of mushroom material to grow… well… pretty much anything.
“In nature, fungi and mushrooms are nature’s recyclers. With Ecovative’s patented Mushroom Material, we can take any regional waste stream and upcycle it into a higher value product. At the end of that product’s life cycle, it will passively return to the earth.”
Can I build a hair dryer with this stuff?