Jeans that purify air. Fish scales used as a plastic substitute. Golf tees made out of sugar. These are some of the ideas for using sustainable materials and reducing waste that are on display at the Danish Design Center in Copenhagen, across from the famous Tivoli Garden amusement park.
The exhibit, called “Hello Materials,” reflects a strong interest by businesses and researchers to investigate concepts and engineer products that scale back a reliance on non-renewable sources. These are concepts that could resonate with average consumers, not just the über socially and environmentally conscious types. As Nille Juul-Sorensen, CEO of the Danish Design Center, said in a video shown at the exhibit:
“Consumers are demanding sustainable products because we have reached a point in our evolution where the throwaway culture is over.”
The companies creating these concept and commercial products include some big names – Coca-Cola and Puma, for example — and their motives for investing in environmentally friendly designs may be part pragmatic and part clever marketing. Regardless, their involvement reminds us that large companies have the means and the responsibility to push for a much broader acceptance of sustainable products.
Seeing all these efforts to re-cycle materials and find renewable substitutes makes me think that we need to figure out how to simply use less stuff in our lives. While it’s good to see Coca-Cola find ways to re-use plastic bottles, it’d be even better if we all just drink less soda.
Check out the following photos and captions about the exhibit:
Images from the slideshow
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Danish Design Center
Denmark has a reputation for producing clean, pleasing and user-friendly product designs. Danish Design Center is a good place to check out new ideas.
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The main exhibit is called "Hello Materials," and it shows off prototypes and products designed to use less or sustainable materials.
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LINC cell phone
The LINC life cycle phone concept by The Green Grass and Kaleidoscope: lease mobile phones rather than selling them to consumers so that the phones can be more easily reclaimed and recycled. The Danes throw away about 1 million mobile phones a year, but only one in 10 of them is recycled.
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Field of Jeans
"Field of Jeans" by researchers at the University of Sheffield, University of the Arts London and London College of Fashion: the project explores ways to use nanotech in the fabrics so that the clothes can break down and neutralize air pollutants.
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Fish Scale Eye Glasses
Eye glasses by Erik de Laurens: the U.K.-based designer created this prototype glasses using fish scales as a plastic substitute. The fish scales are cleaned, dried and colored before being treated with heat and pressure. The fish scales release a bonding agent that hardens them during the drying process.
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Compostable Polo Shirts
Compostable polo shirts by Trigema Change: the German textile company developed biodegradable dyes for making cotton T-shirts. Black dye is hard to produce because of the color and its depth requirement, and heavy metals such as cadmium and nickel are often used.
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Clever Little Bag
"Clever Little Bag" by Puma and Yves Behar: they teamed up to design a shoe box and carrying bag that use less cardboard material and forego the need for plastic bags. Puma claims that the design will save the company 8,500 tons of paper, 20 million megajoules of electricity, one million liters of fuel and one million liters of water every year.
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Clever Little Bag
Another look at the Puma shoe box and carrying bag that weigh less than conventional packaging and require lower shipping costs.
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Sugar golf tees
Sugar golf tees by Emiliano Godoy: the Mexican designer created this prototype golf tee using sugar instead of plastic or wood. The idea is to use a material that doesn't require too much energy to dispose of or reclaim it. The sugar tee dissolves in the rain.
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"Green" coffin by Brahe Design and Dancof: the Danish design firm created this prototype coffin using recycled papers. It requires less woody material and water to make than conventional wood coffins, which are typically made with plywood and a bunch of chemicals and metals.
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Coke Bottle Chairs
Chairs by Coca-Cola, BASF and EMECO: EMECO got an assignment in 2006 to figure out how to re-use used Coca-Cola plastic bottles, and it decided to make chairs out of them. The chairs, which EMECO is selling today, are 65% plastic, with fiberglass added for strength.
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HydroPack by Eastman Chemical Co., Hydration Technology Innovations and Modern Edge Collaboration: each pack has built-in membrane to filter dirty water and make it drinkable directly from the pouch. The pack is designed for emergency use in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
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Danish Design Center
Inside the Danish Design Center