We Need To Change The Way We Use Trash, One Imagination At A Time. It Is About Behavior As Much As Economics.

Screen shot 2011-01-04 at 4.55.21 PM
We all love shopping and some do more than other. We love to buy shoes, clothes, electronic gadgets, toys and cameras. We all know we can’t continue on like this, the stuff we buy today is way worse than what we were buying a decade ago, everything has tons of electronic components inside which is really hard to recycle.

Screen shot 2011-01-04 at 6.20.51 PM
I guess if I try to name the top three most frequent purchases outside of food and other necessities, it would be 1/ shoes 2/consumer electronics (cell phones and laptops) and 3/clothing and accessories.

We don’t buy and throw away a TV every 12 months, but we do these days for cell phones. Thanks to Nokia, Apple, Sony Erickson, Samsung, LG and Blackberry. Shoes are probably something that we can rethink. Not by changing the habits of buying less shoes, but the way we manufacture them and discard them. Every time you walk pass a Camper shop (they are nice), you feel like you need to pick something for the season.

Screen shot 2011-01-04 at 7.05.22 PM
Sustainable shoes is not something new, the above is the Nike Dunks made out of old skate decks. Very cool. I remember visiting a Spanish company 15 years ago and they used recycle tires to make shoes. Not sure if they are still around. So how do we reduce the footprint of shoes? Whether it is your Pradas, UGHs or Nikes or Campers.

Screen shot 2011-01-04 at 4.55.51 PM
Company such as Simple shoe has an environmentally holistic approach to their business design. Simple uses recycled and sustainable products such as hemp, bamboo, car tires, wool, silk, plastics and crepe rubber, in their shoe manufacturing process. They also have an Ethical Supply Chain Guidelines that spell out the fair practice that Simple’s manufacturing and distributing partners must adhere to. Companies like Nike and Patagonia have been doing that that for a long time.

Screen shot 2011-01-04 at 6.18.43 PM
Or take a look at Novacas boots. From their mission statement, “Novacas is a vegan owned and operated business that produces, manufactures and distributes leather alternative cruelty-free shoes and footwear.” I like the cruelty-free one, not exactly sure what it means. I think they can use some help in the design.

Screen shot 2011-01-04 at 7.22.52 PM
Nike has something cool to offer, and they have rediscovered a new life for the print media after death. Nike just released the Women's Premium Print Pack, a limited edition set of three shoe styles, all made using shredded magazines. I hope they used the right magazines such as Vogue, Good Company, NY Times and may be Wallpaper. The pack contains the Flash Macro Premium, the Blazer Mid Premium, and the Air Rift Premium. Unfortunately they are only available in Europe and China. Let’s hope you won’t get caught with your shoes made from recycle banned magazines in China.

Screen shot 2011-01-04 at 5.14.37 PM
Idea Couture brings design thinking to sustainability big time. And not in a simplistic way of using recycled material. It is not that simple. The real economics of sustainability is still a work-in-process. Some desiners are naive about sustainability. But we need to start somewhere, Idea Couture just launched a site called Use2, the idea is to inspire young designers and design students (and high school students) to rethink the after life of objects. Thank you IC Use2 team (Sady, Jessica, Simon, Paul, Lily, Emma, Cheesan) for making this real. Please share that with your friends.

Screen shot 2011-01-04 at 7.12.28 PM
Use2 has lots of DIY ideas for people to use in class or to inspire designer to think about the second life of their designs. It is a designer’s responsibly to make sure that even old products can create value and until they become absolutely useless then they should go into being recycled. Recycle is also a costly thing that people are not aware of. It costs us more environmentally to recycle many products than to throw them away. The problem requires real d-school and b-school thinking. It is as much as about behavior as about economics.

Have a Happy and Green New Year!