Posts Tagged ‘Research’

In Taiwan, coffee beans have been turned into coffee yarns that could be used to create textiles, and Singtex is the only textile manufacturer to win the 2010 Taiwan Excellence Award. The product is made from 98.5% recycled PET bottles and 1.5% ground coffee beans.

It is interesting to see how the humble coffee grain can lead to such innovative product designs. Obviously the above is a more commercial approach to designing with coffee grounds and I doubt our group will have the technology to create prototypes of this calibre. What we were thinking of focusing on is the many ways the coffee grounds can be used, so perhaps a range of products to showcase different benefits could be an option.

A little bit closer to home, Whatawaste is a student-run blog in Melbourne that focuses on minimising restaurant waste in the area. The group had identified problems such as customers ordering too much as a cause for the high number of food waste in landfill. It is interesting to see another student be concerned about waste as they set out to interview restaurants and thus produced designs to help combat the problem.

Possible solutions included a guidebook kit for minimising restaurant waste, segregation of waste in restaurants and raising awareness through this video. Maybe if we don’t decide on doing an actual product with coffee grains, maybe we can do something that raises awareness and has the potential to change habits.



Wang, A. 2010, Recycled Plastic is Fantastic for Taiwan Textile Firms, viewed 12/10/10 <;

projectwhatawaste, 2010, What a Waste: Reducing Food Waste in Restaurants, viewed 12/10/10 <;


Here’s a nifty little product.

Introducing the shredding coffee table. Turn your paper bills or your junk mail into a personalised decorative element for your living room! I’m not sure this is quite childproof but at least it is one product that tackles the paper waste problem in an interesting and interactive way.

While the personalised, artistic opportunities are a big selling point and niche for this product, I think there is also a potential for an informative use for this- a way to higlight the point of how much paper is being used in a specified amount of time. Certainly you would see first hand how long or how much paper it will take to completely fill the table- it makes you think how much paper really is used for seemingly wasteful purposes such as junk mail. I wonder, will this force users to try and limit the paper wastage as possible because of this (which sort of defeats the decorative purpose), or will people be too keen on the interactive, artistic element and shred more paper than needed? Perhaps that is too much of a hyperbole and I would think people will have some common sense, but you have to admit, the tactile process of turning the crank and watching your paper transform a coffee table does sound like fun.


Design*Sponge 2010, Thanks for Shredding my Paper Coffee Table, Design*Sponge, viewed 26/09/2010 <;

I came across this interesting piece of design in a Typo store in the week- a recyclable wallet dubbed the Mighty Wallet from Dynomighty Design. Made from  Tyvek® material, the wallet is tear-proof, waterproof, lightweight and is 25% recycled.  It is made of interlocking plastic fibers in random patterns and what is most interesting is the fact that its shape adapts to the thickness of the contents in the wallet- it can stay slim if you only keep a few notes and cards or expand but still remain durable when there are more contents. Tests of durablity are shown through viral campaigns in Youtube such as the one below.

It’s good to see how well Dynomighty Design has considered the environment with this product- everything from the packaging is recyclable. It is also quite affordable and even if you don’t have access or afford it, there is no excuse as they also give a tutorial on how to make your own!

Truly they care about the environment and are willing to disregard lost revenue in sales and pass on people the knowledge of how to make your own. What is interesting is the possibility of creating a whole community thanks to this wallet as people can make their own personalised designs aside from the quirky designs already available on the store.

In December 2008, Clear magazine first released a 100% tree free issue of their art, design and fashion magazine (and later released another tree free issue on Fall 2009). Synthetic and recyclable, the YUPO® material is also half the normal weight and is more durable than normal paper. It is also water, dust and stain resistant and lessens the strain on forests as well as the ozone layer as manufacturing does not create dangerous emissions.

Even though the issues were released as limited edition pieces, it is still a start to a sustainable future in terms of magazines and publications. The article on the Clear Magazine website states that the material can be recycled into plastic resin and has the same performance and properties of virgin plastics. While this lessens the dependence on paper, it is also another of many products around us that relies on plastics- even if it is recyclable it certainly highlights our over-dependence on plastics as highlighted by the Plastiki campaign. Nevertheless it is a step towards a greener future in the visual communication area as the magazine becomes less ephemeral and becomes a more durable product that one is encouraged to keep.

Still, it begs me to question with the appearance of the iPad and digital magazines- will there really be room for this kind of magazines? Certainly there is a charm of actually having and feeling the magazine as you read compared to an electronic screen but what is to stop people from just leaving these magazines around like normal paper magazines? Paper is also recyclable and yet it can still be a waste problem when people don’t recycle paper. Is the solution really the material, or encouraging more recycling? An electronic version of a magazine won’t have this problem as such but then again, not everyone has the same equity in terms of access to technology.

If the future of printed magazines do rely on this material, I think it would still be better for the environment as there will be less of a reliance on trees for paper. Assuming the recycled material does have the same properties of virgin plastics then at least it will be better environmentally as we will also be relying less on pumping more oil to produce plastics. I don’t think society’s reliance on plastics will decrease, but at least with the YUPO® material, we will be using less natural resources to supply the demand.


Clear Magazine 2009, Clear Magazine Debuts Fall Fashion Issue at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week,
, Clear Magazine, viewed 01 Sep 2010, <;

Youtube 2008, CLEAR IS THE NEW GREEN “CLEAR MAGAZINE”, Youtube, viewed 01 Sep 2010<;

It is common knowledge that in today’s society, there are more pressures for individuals and businesses to recycle. Sustainability has now become a big issue and we are constantly reminded (sometimes by guilt) to think about the impact of our actions on the environment. That said, what if in doing this, we are doing more harm than help?

An article in the December 2008 issue of Private Hospital magazine raises the issue of how what we instinctively think is the more environmental product is actual worse for the environment. The article stresses how we have to look at the bigger picture in our actions- for example, the use of porcelain cups could be more harmful to the environment compared to using plastic cups when factoring in detergents, the use of hot water and the amount.

The article highlights the idea of life cycle assessments- how they are needed to fully understand the facts of how environmentally friendly a product or process is. This forces us to see past the “environmentally friendly” label and truly assess the impact of a product in terms of it’s life cycle- from the cradle to the grave. This is an especially important issue in health care: does the use of a re-usable product justify the amount of chemicals and energy used to treat the product? Is it better for the environment if you simply opt for the disposable product? Certainly these issues are important to consider when running hospitals with a high capacity. St. Vincent’s Hospital in my group’s area of Darlinghurst for example, comes to mind as it is an important landmark in my assigned street.

Is it really better for the environment?

These considerations are not so obvious as consumers tend to take the environmentally friendly label for granted. It is important to assess the product in context, from production to its end life. Next time you reach for the reusable bag, perhaps stop and ponder about the energy and resources needed to create the product.


Private Hospital  2008, ‘Re-Use or Single-Use: Making the Decision, Private Hospital, December 2008, p. 65

The Scanlon 2007, soapbox.SUPERSTAR, viewed 31/08/2010<;

There is no doubt that packaging is one of the main forms of waste that fill our waste bins. Even from surveying businesses in my street, the main conclusion all forms of packaging- whether it be primary, secondary, plastic, cardboard or glass- is the main culprit in the daily waste quota. While the concept of recycling is now in place for materials such as cardboard, students in the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland have turned to bionics to lessen packaging waste.

What you see is a 3-D render from Finnish student Anssi Ahonen, of a concept for biodegradable packaging for potatoes. Students came up with the idea of tackling the packaging waste problem by  changing the design of the actual packaging. The proposal involves using microbes to disintegrate the packaging into humus or soil, which would not only save space in your local waste bin but also help nourish the land for the plants. This process takes place after the expiration date and the render demonstrates the decomposition of the package.

Does this mean you can just throw away the package in the ground instantly in the future? Probably not, as I would imagine the decomposition process to not be the best thing to see in your local park- it does take time after all. I doubt councils would like people throwing this kind of packaging at every corner of the street but it is a start in creating a more sustainable solution in turning waste back as a resource for the earth. Certainly it would help ease the reliance on landfills and hopefully, these would revolutionise package design in the future.

Could we see more of these stores in the future? Nau is a clothing company in Portland, Oregon that takes the concept of sustainability to heart. Going back to Philip Delamore’s talk in week 1 of how wasteful today’s fashion and retail industry is, Nau’s solution is quite a refreshing change and may help solve the waste problem in said industries.


Nau Webfronts blurs the line between digital shopping and the retail store experience. Creative director Hal Arneson believes in the company’s mission statement of sustainability and his team created the Webfronts experience. Customers can try on clothing before using an in-site kiosk to digitally order the item to their home. This approach addresses Delamore’s notions of how retail stores today focus on ordering a bunch of items and hoping all will be sold (which they won’t).

The process involves customers scanning product cards that corresponds to an item which brings up the item’s details. This experience allows the customer to be more pro-active and be initiative, they are doing the orders themselves and thus, the item will be delivered by demand. Admittedly I would want to try this system out just for the experience- something different as well as being sustainable. If this system would be adopted by more retail chains, perhaps it will reduce retail waste in the long run as we return to the past process of ‘production by demand’.


Sherin, A.  2008, “SustainAble: a handbook of materials and applications for graphic designers and their clients’, Rockport Publishers, Inc., Beverly, Massachussetts