- 3:40 pm - Sat, Aug 23, 2014
- 196 notes
Here’s a fascinating — if not exactly uplifting — look at the economics, business, and design strategies that led to our throwaway culture came about: Modern Waste is an Economic Strategy « Discard Studies:
About one third of MSW [municipal solid waste] —food scraps, and to a debatable extent, yard trimmings—are present in pre-modern waste.
The rest of modern MSW are disposables: paper, plastics, aluminum, textiles, and packaging.[i] In 1956, Lloyd Stouffer, editor of Modern Packaging Inc., famously (and controversially at the time) declared: “The future of plastics is in the trash can” (Stouffer 1963: 1).
Stouffer’s idea addressed an emerging problem for industry. Products tended to be durable, easy to fix, and limited in variation (such as color or style). With this mode of design, markets were quickly saturating (Packard 1960; Cohen 2003). Opportunities for growth, and thus profit, were rapidly diminishing, particularly after America’s Great Depression and the two World Wars, where an ethos of preservation, reuse, and frugality was cultivated.
In response, industry intervened on a material level and developed disposability through planned obsolescence, single-use items, cheap materials, throw-away packaging, fashion, and conspicuous consumption. These changes were supported by a regimen of advertising that telegraphed industrial principals of value into the social realm, suggesting the difference between durable and disposable, esteemed and taboo.
American industry designed a shift in values that circulated goods through, rather than into, the consumer realm. The truism that humans are inherently wasteful came into being at a particular time and place, by design.
There’s a ton of great info in this piece, it really is a good read. The over-arching point is that the shifts are so massive that we can’t solve them via individual behavior-change (recycling, etc.) alone; we need policy-level solutions.
I half-agree: Yes, we need policy-level solutions, but we’re more likely to get there by way of individual-level action, behavior change, and engagement. Which is what this site encourages.
- 3:40 pm - Wed, Aug 20, 2014
- 208 notes
Bionic Yarns [is] a New York City-based startup that makes fabric from recycled ocean plastic, and next month, the company is launching its biggest collaboration to date with designer clothing company G-Star RAW.
The “RAW for the Oceans line” includes a range of denim products that, all told, are woven with some nine tons of ocean plastic inside. It’s a tiny fraction of the pollution problem, but you have to start somewhere.
More: How a Pair of Jeans Could Save Our Plastic-Choked Oceans | Business | WIRED
- 3:40 pm - Thu, Jul 17, 2014
- 101 notes
If you visited Governor’s Island in New York last summer you most certainly saw the billowing, cloud-like structure that sits in the middle of the lawn. …
It’s not until you get up close that you realize it’s made from many, many plastic bottles stringed together. “53,780 used plastic bottles,” says designer Jason Klimoski, “the number thrown away in NYC in just 1 hour.” Klimoski and his team at STUDIO KCA collected the bottles – a combination of milk jugs and water bottles – and lashed them together to create “Head in the Clouds,” a pavilion people can walk into, sit inside, and contemplate just how much plastic is thrown away every day.
The structure … is now looking for its next home. If you’re interested in having this in your back yard get in touch with the designers.
More: A Sculptural Cloud of Plastic Bottles Illustrates One Hour of Trash in NYC | Colossal
- 12:20 pm - Sun, Jun 15, 2014
- 263 notes
Corrugated tin roofs are waterproof but have serious downsides. They trap heat, and though a super hot home may be less miserable than getting rained on, it is nevertheless is unpleasant. When it rains, the noise can be so deafening it drowns out everything.
David Saiia, a professor of strategic management and sustainability at Duquesne University, has come up with a brilliant alternative: plastic thatch, sourced from the vast soda-bottle waste stream.
Much more here: A Second Life for Wasted Soda Bottles: High-Tech Roofing - Betsy Teutsch - The Atlantic
- 3:08 pm - Wed, Jun 11, 2014
- 153 notes
Heinz and Ford exploring new uses for tomato waste
Heinz ends up with a large number of byproducts while using more than two million tons of tomatoes annually to make ketchup and the hope is that the skins, peels, stems and seeds can be recycled to make a plant-based plastic.
Ford has also enlisted the help of Coca-Cola, Nike and Procter & Gamble to help create “a 100 percent plant-based plastic to be used to make everything from fabric to packaging.”
See also: Earlier Unconsumption posts on bioplastics here.
- 3:40 pm - Wed, May 28, 2014
- 82 notes
Video: Dell debuts carbon-negative plastic packaging:
An announcement from Dell … that it will become the first tech company to use carbon-negative plastic in product shipments may become the company’s first step toward using the sustainable material in devices.
How soon Dell may seriously consider using the AirCarbon material produced by Newlight Technologies in laptops and tablets depends on how well the packaging performs and how quickly the California startup will be able to scale to meet the demands of a company many times its size, said Oliver Campbell, Dell’s director of procurement.
While almost all plastics are made from oil or other fossil fuels, AirCarbon is made from gases that would otherwise only be released into the atmosphere, including methane and carbon dioxide that is generated at farms, water treatment plants, landfills and energy facilities.
Newlight combines the captured carbon with a “biocatalyst” in a reactor. Mixing the two causes carbon molecules to separate and then reform into AirCarbon, which behaves very much like conventional plastic.