Find­ing new and sur­pris­ing lives for house­hold items

Ottawa Citizen - - HOME LIFE - KATHER­INE ROTH

From pack­ag­ing to cloth­ing to cig­a­rette butts, more and more ev­ery­day items that once were des­tined for land­fills are be­ing re­cy­cled, com­posted or up­cy­cled in creative ways. Many of the new prod­ucts made from waste are find­ing their way onto run­ways and into de­sign mu­se­ums and house­holds.

The com­pany Ter­raCy­cle, for ex­am­ple, has de­vised ways of col­lect­ing waste like ocean plas­tics, cig­a­rette butts, chew­ing gum and even dirty di­a­pers, and then pro­cess­ing it so it can have a new life.

“Waste is way more than fig­ur­ing out how we can deal with a neg­a­tive. It’s re­ally rather ex­cit­ing,” says Ter­raCy­cle’s CEO, Tom Szaky, who loves to put sur­pris­ing trash items to use. Some of the com­pany’s up­cy­cled prod­ucts, like tote bags made from juice pouches and lap­top cases made out of re­tired US Mail bags, are sold on­line, by the re­tailer dwells­

Pitts­burgh, New Or­leans San Fran­cisco, Van­cou­ver, Toronto (where the Hun­gar­ian-born Szaky grew up) and dozens of other ci­ties, part­ner­ing with Ter­raCy­cle, are find­ing it worth­while to col­lect and process old cig­a­rette butts and pack­ag­ing, which is shred­ded, sep­a­rat­ing the ash, to­bacco and pa­per from the plas­tic fil­ters, Szaky says.

The ash, to­bacco and pa­per are then com­posted, and the plas­tic fil­ters (made from cel­lu­lose ac­etate) are shred­ded, com­pounded and turned into plas­tic pel­lets to make a va­ri­ety of prod­ucts like park benches. The cig­a­rette re­cy­cling pro­gram in the U.S. is fi­nan­cially sup­ported by The Santa Fe Nat­u­ral To­bacco Com­pany, he says.

Kiehl’s, Ne­spresso, Col­gate, Tide, Brita and a host of other brands, mean­while, are find­ing it ad­van­ta­geous to of­fer clients ways to re­cy­cle their pack­ag­ing so that it doesn’t have to end up in land­fills, an eco-friendly ef­fort which gives them ca­chet among eco-minded con­sumers.

And a new pro­gram about to be launched in Eu­rope, partly paid for by a di­a­per com­pany there, will dis­trib­ute pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble odour-proof bins to col­lect dirty di­a­pers, which will then be re­cy­cled into their var­i­ous com­po­nents and re­pro­cessed, Szaky says.

Many firms are find­ing uses for re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als at the be­gin­ning of the de­sign process. The com­pany ReWall, for ex­am­ple, makes high-per­for­mance wall board, ex­te­rior and other ar­chi­tec­tural prod­ucts out of un­wanted pack­ag­ing ma­te­ri­als. ReWall re­cently worked with the ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign firm Bureau V and de­signer Mary Ping to come up with a fu­tur­is­tic table­top as part of a com­mis­sioned art­work.

“This was one of our first projects us­ing up­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, but it cer­tainly won’t be our last,” says Peter Zus­pan, found­ing prin­ci­pal at Bureau V. “It’s def­i­nitely the type of thing we’ll see more of in the fu­ture.”

The table­top was fea­tured in one of two re­cent ex­hibits at the Cooper He­witt Smith­so­nian De­sign Mu­seum that looked at ways in which items many peo­ple as­sume can­not be re­cy­cled are trans­formed. It in­cludes Star­bucks pack­ag­ing, with the fa­mous green lo­gos barely vis­i­ble in the swirls of pat­tern, and is part of the mu­seum’s new ex­hibit, Ta­blescapes: De­signs for Din­ing. An­other show that orig­i­nated at the Cooper He­witt, Scraps: Fash­ion, Tex­tiles and Creative Re­use, is on view at the Palm Springs Art Mu­seum Ar­chi­tec­ture and De­sign Cen­ter in Cal­i­for­nia through Jan. 14. It in­cludes an ar­ray of tex­tile works from three de­sign­ers who give new life to waste ma­te­ri­als that might oth­er­wise have been thrown away.

One of the de­sign­ers, Christina Kim, cut up hand­wo­ven sari fab­ric to cre­ate a new cloth­ing line. She then uti­lized ev­ery bit of the scraps in other prod­ucts. The tini­est bits at the end of the process were turned into amulets to be used for neck­laces.

And in­ter­est in eco-friendly tex­tiles is hardly lim­ited to lesser-known de­sign­ers. Big cloth­ing la­bels like Ever­lane are mak­ing fash­ion­able cloth­ing out of re­cy­clables (in their case a new line of jack­ets made from re­cy­cled PET bot­tles).

“De­sign­ers are look­ing for al­ter­na­tive ways to pro­duce things, and are pay­ing more at­ten­tion to what they pro­duce them from,” says Matilda McQuaid, who or­ga­nized the Scraps ex­hibit and heads the tex­tiles depart­ment at Cooper He­witt. “Peo­ple in gen­eral are look­ing at ma­te­ri­als in a very new way, with a much greater fo­cus on sus­tain­abil­ity.”

“De­sign­ers are look­ing for al­ter­na­tive ways to pro­duce things, and are pay­ing more at­ten­tion to what they pro­duce them from,” says Matilda McQuaid, who or­ga­nized the Scraps: Fash­ion, Tex­tiles, and Creative Re­use ex­hibit, on dis­play at the Palm Springs Art Mu­seum Ar­chi­tec­ture and De­sign Cen­ter in Cal­i­for­nia. Pho­tos: Matt Flynn/Cooper He­witt, Smith­so­nian De­sign Mu­seum

This dis­play of ta­bles and stools — from the Ta­blescapes: De­signs for Din­ing ex­hibit at New York’s Cooper He­witt Smith­so­nian De­sign Mu­seum — ex­em­pli­fies ways in which items thought to be non-re­cy­clable can be trans­formed.

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