Imag­i­na­tion in Sus­tain­abil­ity

VM&RD - - COLUMN - Lin­sey is the co-founder of INDO in Chicago, Illi­nois USA. She grew up in Michi­gan's fruit belt in a tiny vil­lage called Stevensville and re­ceived her BFA in Graphic De­sign from Columbia Col­lege Chicago in 2006. Lin­sey A Burritt En­hanc­ing your eco messa

Sus­tain­able re­tail prac­tices are just a mat­ter of us­ing com­mon sense and some imag­i­na­tion with used and dis­carded ma­te­ri­als. Lin­sey A. Burritt, co-founder of INDO, Chicago, tells you how.

SValue in dis­carded ma­te­ri­als

There is a mas­sive abun­dance of per­fectly good ma­te­ri­als be­ing thrown away ev­ery­day. There have been re­cy­cling com­pa­nies around for decades try­ing to en­sure that valu­able com­modi­ties such as plas­tic, ar­chi­tec­tural com­po­nents, pa­per and odd­i­ties are re­cy­cled, re­pur­posed or dis­posed of re­spon­si­bly. We are fi­nally start­ing to see th­ese ma­te­ri­als be­ing uti­lized in stores around the world from re­claimed floor­boards to ship­ping pal­ettes. In­te­grat­ing the idea of re­pur­pos­ing is easy. My com­pany, INDO, spe­cial­izes in cre­at­ing win­dow dis­plays out of ma­te­ri­als that have been di­verted from waste or re­cy­cling streams. But there isn't any­thing par­tic­u­larly unique about th­ese ma­te­ri­als. In fact, they are quite or­di­nary. Pa­per, wood, card­board — they are the raw ma­te­ri­als that you are prob­a­bly al­ready us­ing in your dis­plays, but they can be found used. It is even pos­si­ble to find ma­te­rial that hasn't even been used yet, but has been dis­carded or sent to a plant for re­cy­cling due to be­ing an over­run, slightly de­fected or just not needed any longer. In one of our lat­est win­dow dis­plays for Calumet Pho­to­graphic, we found in their ware­house a box of old gels (a ma­te­rial that was used be­fore pho­tog­ra­phy went dig­i­tal) and cre­ated a col­or­ful, tex­tu­ral back­drop. When we un­cov­ered the gels, they were not in the best con­di­tion, but with a lit­tle imag­i­na­tion and the right tools we were able to breathe new life into them. For an­other re­cent dis­play for Op­timo Hat Com­pany, we cre­ated a dis­play out of the hat­mak­ers felt cast-offs. Peo­ple are gen­er­ally sur­prised and in­trigued to find out where the ma­te­ri­als we use come from which cre­ates depth and a com­pelling story. Al­though, it won't al­ways be pos­si­ble to source the ma­te­ri­als you need right from your own re­cy­cling bins. In which case you can scour what re­cy­cling com­pa­nies have to of­fer as well as eBay, Etsy, trash cans, dump­sters, al­leys, Craiglist, your home, work, friends or even neigh­bors. It may seem daunt­ing when you first get started, but if you are pa­tient you will start to find ma­te­ri­als every­where. An­other type of dis­carded ma­te­rial to keep an eye out for is any­thing that is la­beled 'dead stock'. You see dead stock items in the fash­ion in­dus­try of­ten and it ranges any­where from: thread, string, fab­ric, ac­ces­sories or cloth­ing items. There are also ma­te­ri­als out there that are de­fected and there­fore can't be sold and get do­nated, sent to a re­cy­cling com­pany or even thrown away. In­te­grat­ing dis­carded ma­te­ri­als into your win­dow dis­plays and store de­signs is a great way to pos­i­tively con­trib­ute to the en­vi­ron­ment by spread­ing the power of re­use. It is also a great way to en­hance your mes­sag­ing through store dis­plays, es­pe­cially when put to­gether with care. Th­ese ma­te­ri­als tell a story of thought­ful­ness and in­ge­nu­ity. The story doesn't end there. If you plan for an af­ter­life for th­ese ma­te­ri­als whether it be re­cy­cling the dis­play af­ter, sav­ing it to re­use again or do­nat­ing it to a non-for-profit, you can strengthen the re­la­tion­ships in your com­mu­nity through the power of re-use.

TIPS on in­te­grat­ing dis­carded ma­te­ri­als:

Start small : Star­bucks started of­fer­ing dis­counts on cof­fee when cus­tomers brought re­us­able cups be­fore they started to use sal­vaged ma­te­ri­als in their store de­signs. A lit­tle ac­tion goes a long way.

Tell a story: Make a con­nec­tion be­tween the ma­te­rial you are sav­ing and how it's be­ing reimag­ined. Peo­ple will talk about it.

Be pa­tient: Sourc­ing dis­carded ma­te­ri­als can take time, but if you stick it out the out­come is re­ward­ing.

Sup­port a good cause: Win­dow dis­plays can be a source for dia­logue and sup­port for your com­mu­nity.

Find in­spi­ra­tion: Start a Pin­ter­est, or col­lect im­ages of good ideas so you never get stumped us­tain­able de­sign prac­tices are mak­ing their way into the re­tail de­sign in­dus­try with com­pa­nies like Star­bucks who re­cently de­signed a drive-through out of old ship­ping con­tain­ers and Patag­o­nia who has a re­cy­cling pro­gram where they take back old cloth­ing to re­cy­cle them anew. An­other leader in bring­ing those same sen­si­bil­i­ties into vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing and win­dow dis­play is An­thro­polo­gie where they craft some of their beau­ti­ful in­tri­cate dis­plays out of var­i­ous re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als such as old tires, wine corks, news­pa­per and hang­ers from the dry clean­ers. And all over the world artists and de­sign­ers are find­ing in­spi­ra­tion in the move­ment to­wards sus­tain­abil­ity — and it is def­i­nitely more than a trend, it is a move­ment.

Projects pics by Ju­lia Stotz

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