Sustainability is the future of design and new sustainable products and materials are literally coming up every single day.
Following this positive wave, one of the most popular crowdfunding platforms is encouraging sustainable design as well!
In fact, Kickstarter has recently launched the Shapeshift (opened in a new window/tab) program, a call for designers to embrace the principles of circular design and create new products out of trash.
The program has been open for submissions for the entire month of October and now it counts more than 20 sustainable projects ranging from interior design, fashion and even food!
I’ve collected my favourites in this post, so let’s jump right into them!
From plastic waste to circular design
Plastic bottles are literally invading our environment, but there are ways to reuse them. In particular, one of the most dazzling transformations of PET is into felt or a similarly soft fabric.
Which is exactly what the following two projects have used…
Upcycled plastic…as décor
Made of PET-based felt, the Bobby planter is air & water permeable. This creates a healthy environment for plants to thrive, it prevents rotten roots and makes bottom watering particularly easy.
In fact, Bobby can actually serve many more purposes at home, from planter to catchall wherever needed!
It takes approximately 2 bottles to make one Bobby and – since it is shipped flat – it also comes with shipment cost & space savings!
Upcycled plastic…on the floor
PET bottles can also become an incredibly soft-touch textile, which sounds like a great starting point for a rug!
Freedom Squares™ are rug tiles that are available in 4 natural colours and are both practical for everyday life and mindful of the environment.
Starting with the practical side, they’re modular, which allows scaling up or down to adapt to different living spaces. A brilliant solution to nail just the right rug size without having to buy a new rug at every move!
Also, one of the advantages of PET-based rugs is that they’re often machine washable. And modularity comes in handy in this sense too, as any stain can be sorted out just throwing the one dirty tile in the laundry!
On the environmental side, these rugs adhere fully to a circular economy model. Used rugs can be returned to the company, who will reuse the material over and over again to make new rugs!
Last but certainly not least, The Canary Life's rugs are also tested for toxicity to make sure they don’t contribute to indoor air pollution.
Circular design beyond plastic
So fare we've looked at plastic upcycling projects. But plastic is only one of the many waste materials that can be given a new life through creative upcycling. So let's see a few more examples!
Bringing waste-based design into the kitchen
Big things can happen when chemistry meets hand-crafting skills. For example, Granby Workshop has been able to transform a bunch of waste (glass, tiles etc.) into 100% recycled tableware that reproduces the properties of porcelain and is both dishwasher and microwave safe!
The aesthetics of these dishes is also absolutely beautiful. The juxtaposition of a brown mat bottom and shiny colourful tops makes for a modern and informal look. And all the tiny fragments that make the top add depth and interest, while reminding that all that material used to be waste!
Biomaterials come home
We’ve already discussed the potential of biomaterials in the design industry, seeing that they are really innovative and environment-friendly material alternatives.
For this project, Blast Studio is using mycelium (the technical name for mushrooms' roots) to upcycle coffee cups into vases and other design objects.
The material of single-use coffee cups is cardboard that is made water-resistant with a thin plastic layer inside. And – just like it happens to any other composite material – this makes coffee cups hard to recycle.
Blast Studio's process starts with collecting trashed coffee cups from local shops. The cups are then shredded and sterilized and finally mixed with mycelium, which will grow in moulds creating fascinating organic shapes.
Growing plants sustainably
Growing plants is always a great idea as it benefits both our wellbeing and the environment around us.
With this is mind, Steady State has created a line of innovative fertilizer blends that have a special feature, they are upcycled! In essence, they’re based on a technology that recovers nutrients (phosphorus in particular) from wastewater streams and gives them a new use. The resulting fertilizer promises to slowly release nutrients into plants' soil, making the gardener's work way easier. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?
As a complement, Steady State has also put together ready-to-use gardening kits that contain all the necessary equipment to start growing plants sustainably and in the smallest possible space. They include biodegradable pots, bamboo plant markers and scoops, and even a mini greenhouse with built-in light!
In this post, I've focused only on interior-design-related projects. But – if you're interested – go take a look at the other Shapeshift (opened in a new window/tab) projects on Kickstarter! There are some truly genius ideas that apply circular design to other industries, like snack bars made of upcycled grains from the beer industry! (opened in a new window/tab)
And for more sustainable interior design ideas, come take a look around on SforSustainable (opened in a new window/tab), where I personally curate a selection of sustainable home design products including furniture, lighting, accessories, finishes, tableware and textiles!
And stay tuned because there’s a surprise coming for Christmas!