• Real Recycling

    Poverty, Industrial Design

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    Personally I find those design projects interesting that use used materials to produce usable products. Or - in other words: projects that give trash an added value.

    This pictures shows a board or shelf that uses stacking boxes that are used in industry and that have standardized measures. I found the picture on the website of Christiane Hoegner, a designer living in Brussels. I am sure there are many many more such projects - a lot for sure also on design schools worldwide.

    Using products for as long as possible is often the most sustainable way of usage. So extending their life by inventing a second use makes a lot of sense. I am sure that - sad enough - the best designers in those things are the people living in poor countries that depend on using things that they found in rubbish.

    So what we do can already be considered as decadent. But projects like Fernando and Humberto Campana's »Favela Chair« that was inspired »by the ad-hoc shelters which are built out mud, sand, scraps of wood, bricks and stones in the hills and on the fringes of urban expansion around Rio de Janeiro« (or in other words: inspired by the life of the very poor people on our planet) really are unacceptable.

    This chair, made »from the same wood used to build the favelas«, that is on sale for $ 2,985, really represents the image of the designer that probably many have and that unfortunately gains more and more truth: the stupid stylist that is creating one and another sofa or chair and who does not care what's going on around his hedonistic bubble.

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    Marco's post about the rational response to scarcity - reuse - reminded me of an old post that I'd like to link to here. The xsprojectgroup.com uses plastic waste gathered in Jakarta to make bags. the US store is being renovated, but check back. Or go to the EU store in the meantime.

    This is a real way to utilize waste instead of creating more and to do some social good: create employment, and use some profits to give back to the community. This is the concept of a Restorative Enterprise.

    Thanks for posting, Marco!

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    In this context I would really like to know if the bags from Freitag are still made of old truck tarpaulins. They must have such a huge production that it might get hard to find used ones. [They are still unique and made from original, used truck tarpaulins, bicycle innertubes, car seat belts and used airbags.

    Well.. I'm not sure. But »used« can of course be a very open definition.


  • In response to real recycling: part two, posted by Daniel Stillman,
    in the thread Real Recycling
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    Many Moroccan children and teenagers are masters in recycling what adults throw away as garbage. Talking only about the making of real musical instruments by boys it is possible to mention:

    • making whistles cut out in pages from an old notebook or made by curving a strip of a tin can;
    • making flutes with different kinds of tubes;
    • creating guitars and violins with a tin can or a pan with handle as body;
    • using as drums all kinds of old plastic or metal bottles, cans and jars;
    • and eventually creating a drum kit with three milk powder boxes whose tin lids serve as cymbals.

    I have no examples of Moroccan girls making such musical instruments but they recycle a lot of discarded objects as toys for their doll play, dinner play and household play.

    In the Design 21 blog "Participaction" (Jennifer Leonard, June 11, 2007) one reads: Mockus has wisely said, “The distribution of knowledge is the key contemporary task. Knowledge empowers people. If people know the rules, and are sensitized by art, humor and creativity, they are much more likely to accept change.”

    Linking this statement about the influence of art, humor and creativity to Moroccan children's inventive and playful use of adults' waste, one might think that grown-ups can learn something from the youngsters.

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