Many of us Angelenos understand and embrace the adage “reduce, reuse, recycle” and realize the importance of reading (and acting) from left to right, starting with reduction. However, with an industry plagued with fatal design flaws, there is a fourth step that must precede the big three—“rethink.”
Items with short usable lives must be redesigned to either last longer or be transformed into a cradle-to-cradle life cycle (waste = food). For those items that ride the ever-changing waves of fashion and technology, switching to biodegradable materials can greatly curb the colossal impact of commercial and artistic innovation.
We have scavenged through the design world in search of the most stylish plant-based products that have turned planned-obsolescence into compostable chic.
The following are five of the best items we found, in random order:
1. One Moment Shoes
Look out TOMS and Crocs! Figtree Factory Studios of Spain has developed a modern unisex slipper that is 100% biodegradable, modern, and cheaper than cheap. At five euros a pop (roughly $8 USD), One Moment (1M) shoes put eco-conscious fashion within everyone’s reach. Rolled up and packaged in a small containers, 1M shoes are shipped with a low-impact and can be sold in a variety of unconventional settings. Imagine all of the place you might see a 1M vending machine.
1M shoes are currently offered to the US market solely through the 1M e-store.
2. VerTerra Dinnerware
The epitome of minimalism, VerTerra dinnerware is made from fallen palm leaves and water -- nothing else. VerTerra bowls and plates are a perfect substitute for single-use paper and styrofoam products. Pressed together with high pressure machinery, VerTerra products are quite durable and can be used a few times before entering the compost bin.
VerTerra products are great for parties, BBQs, eco-weddings and corporate events. These innovative products are available online or at many earthy-conscious stores such as Whole Foods Market.
3. Econut iPad Case
With the perfect blend of old- and new-school technology, the Econut is a durable, sexy case for the iPad made from coconuts. Although simple in appearance, the Econut case utilizes state-of-the art technology to link a slim keyboard to the Apple tablet via bluetooth.
This item is still in conceptual stage; however, when it releases, you can be sure that the Apple-faithful will go “nuts” for it.
4. PLA “Renew Can”
We consume 106,000 Iron/Aluminum cans every 30 seconds in the United States. Rivaling plastic bags for the most wasteful and senseless device, single-use containers place an extremely large burden on the environment.
The item is currently sold through haoshi Design studio and has not yet moved into scaled production.
5. Natural Year Phone
Fine, so a phone made from grass may not be the most durable of cellphones. But does that really matter? How many of us can say that we’ve had the same cellphone for five years? The important factor is whether or not a phone can be repurposed easily. The idea of “throw-away” technology only makes sense if we can justify the burial as being nutritious for the soil or another industrial process.
Of the precious metals and synthetic compounds in today’s phones, only a fraction of the contents are recyclable. Extracting these metals is a dangerous and resource intensive process that is often seen as a domestic burden and is passed off to developing countries.
So maybe the idea of a grassy phone is a little before it’s time or only fit for the GaGa’s of the current age. Nonetheless, the concept is thought-provoking and should provide at least a new perspective on how we need to design our disposable indulgences.