Do you feel attached to garbage in any way? Because we are!! Look at the picture above the surfer is swimming in it. Thats how we relate to it, it becomes part of our environment sooner or later. Yes you and Garbage It’s a personal thing more then you would like to think. It’s like you are what you eat, well you are what you waste too. If you come to think of it animals are very cautious of where they leave there feces behind. And I think we should have the same kind of feeling when we dispose of some Starbucks paper cup or a plastic plate we just ate out of.
And no garbage is not something negative it’s just something we have to deal with! I have been reading an inspiring book not really meant for me to read since I am not a business woman type but still I like to read things that are not meant for me. So thanks James Altucher for writing “Choose yourself”. Because he gave me the idea to write this post that will inspire me as a designer and many others who knows who doing totally something different. What lead me in his book to write this post is something he mentioned: we should clean up the mess we sweep under the rug because no matter how beautiful the rug is it won’t make the mess go away. This is not his exact words because I could not find it back in the book. Maybe because I read it like almost in one day so it’s still more of a notion in my head now. But this is exactly how I see our relation to garbage now a days so thanks James for the tip.
After a long time reflecting and reading on the subject today it has all came together in my story about garbage.
Ok this will be a long story and a heavy and emotional one you might not want to read or waste your time reading so I will try to make my point clear, life changing and harmless. If you take the time and care to read along.
Today I just had to write these thoughts down that are coming all together at once about my story with garbage. It’s Sunday and I went to see the documentary about the dopper project for clean water in Nepal after running 5km yesterday in the dutch dunes to collect money for that same project. And in the film I realized there was one thing Merijn Everaarts the initiator each time would stumbled across on his quest for drinking water, garbage! Heaps of stranded waste always to be seen in contrast to the most amazing natural and sometimes rural landscapes. But it is also what set him to start Dopper in the first place. And this is exactly the same frustration I have or maybe you have as well, since you are still reading along. What I have come to realize is that we all create this waste, each one of us and this is the one reason why it has gotten out of hand. But the good news is the reverse is also possible each one of us can in no time get rid of it in just the same way it has been created. I am a true believer of this and if you and everyone also believes this it will soon become history, that is the beauty of change. But we have to find our own way to change and this is why I write this post I am finding mine. And hopefully help you to find yours.
Now I just want to tell you the whole story at least my story because I’m sure you have your own if you care to share I would love to hear it any time.
I have been fortune to live in three different places of the world on this planet in my life time till now. All of three which I call my home town; United States, Colombia and the Netherlands. All three are different and none better then the other I would say. And all have different approaches to this same story of garbage.
The vastness of this story of garbage became evident to me at my second year studying industrial design, on our trip to India where we went to work together with artisans. Our first impression of the country India was overwhelming to put it mildly. We arrived very early in the morning at the airport in Bombay 5am when the sun was just rising. I think if any one of my fellow colleges I traveled with reads this I am sure he/she can recall this one morning. Our teachers took us through what for me at least was an unforgettable wake-up call back then, that till today lives even more vividly with in me. And I hope my writing can bring this same image as lively to you as it was to me. Of corse living in Colombia I had seen pour areas in the big city of Bogota before but never in this way I did that morning in 2000. Our eyes were just getting used to the light and it was slowly creeping in through the bus windows where we safely had our first view to one of the biggest populated cities of the world at the start of this day. It was 6am when the bus drove us past slum houses or rather boxes millions of them existing along side the cities draining system. At this time out of these boxes some made of cardboard some more fortunate of tin came out people, slowly one by one out of there sleeping places. In my memory the places where they slept were not much bigger then 1 x 2 meters by 1 meter tall maybe less. And not only one person would come out of such a box but sometimes 5 and each one smaller in size and age then the other. Now this image of that morning sun in backlight creating all these silhouette of human beings awaking and emerging form these boxes to clean them selves by the drainage waters of the city of Bombay has stuck till this day in my head more vividly now then any photograph will ever come to depict.
And today as of my life on this planet it is this image that more and more I think of. How to stop this how to stop creating more garbage, the plastic bags my food is packed in, the beautifully printed cereal cardboard boxes, the toilet paper I use to keep my self clean everyday, the kotex towels we woman need to use and the thousand of baby diapers that are used for the children, the future inhabitants of this planet. The list is sadly endless which makes mine and your frustration even worse. So this is the heavy emotional ride I was talking about. Being confronted with this fact and not being able to do anything to solve it this is what has to end. For me this has been a struggle both professional as well as personal. I have found my self fighting between how to win an income as a industrial designer and how to succeed in making a positive difference in the world and the well being of life on this planet. And in many cases these two goals have contradict each other making it hard to succeed in any of the two. And I believe I am not the only one facing these problem ever so clearly today. And only few have found ways to approach them like Merijn Everaarts has in his water project of Dopper in Nepal. And I believe there are millions more of these projects out there that will make the difference we all search for. And I have come to believe the ultimate goal is not money it’s about changing lives and through that changing ones own life. Our economy will not change it, nor will politics and religion neither it is a human change that is required and that comes from each and one of us cooperating and looking for solutions.
I have been reading once again the book Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart and William McDonough which I had read after my study but only now it makes much more sense to me. And in this book he mentions something very true about all of us. We all want to feel special and that is exactly what we should do, I’ve come to realize. Feel special and how? By doing something special as in action towards an other human being or a community you are part of. When he mentioned this he was referring to products not to people and in particular new products.
“We recognize and understand the value of feeling, even unique. But with materials, it makes sense to celebrate the sameness and commonality that permit us to enjoy them- in special, even unique, products-more then once. What would have happened, we sometimes wonder, if The Industrial revolution had taken place in societies that emphasize the community over the individual, and where people believed not in cradle-to-grave life cycle but in reincarnation?”
Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart and William McDonough pg 103.
And I have always believed we all are freaking special we just yet have to find out how to make use of it. And well me as a designer I see garbage as something special I don’t see it as garbage. I’ve come to think it must be my third world background I have that makes me think like that where you are taught to be resourceful in all ways.
So I have been picking up an old project I didn’t finish during my study and that was a project I wanted to set up to create products from factory waste. And lately I have been designing new models using modular systems to make different sizes of lamps all made from factory misprints taken out of the production line. Now that I have contacted again the company where I get the elements from they have told me they have a whole truck load waiting for me. So now I got all worried how to make something good out of that truck load I will be getting and where to put it, all these practical and logistical things. So suddenly their garbage becomes my resource my material, something I need to put care into to form beautiful lamps. And find people to make happy with these lamps so that means looking at there needs and tastes. So it almost feels like this waste product is like an orphan I get and have to convert into a special, beautiful and outstanding new product. And that gets me excited as a designer. If you want to see my lamp ‘Switchica’ mad from factory waste you can see some pictures of my new models here on my website and soon to be sold online interiorica.nl .