The latest in upcycling and trashion seems to be cuff links. Check out these cool samples, first one by Liza Hermeline from old typewriter keys, second one by David Wright from old circuit boards. Follow the links to purchase.
Archive for April, 2009
makeITfare, SwedWatch, the Church of Sweden and the Fair Trade Centre have produced a fairly substantive report on electronic tra$h flows from the European Union to developing countires. Speaking the language of the European Commission, the report uses the amusing term “Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment” (WEEE), but that’s where the fun stuff ends.
Quick facts: About 50 million tonnes of WEEE is produced annualy, and in the EU as a whole, only about a third is collected for recycling. Much of this is toxic and hazardous to handle, and even though some of the worst chemicals are no longer used in the EU, we can expect that most of the EU-WEEE predates July 2006, which is when regulations where tightened. As an example, an avarege cellphone contains about 200 chemical compounds.
According to the report, the flow of elctric trash from the EU to countries such as Pakistan, Ghana, China and the Philippines comes in many shapes. Three main routes can however be identified. First, there the tra$h that we are used to, garbage as an international commodity, on a market where the price of a laptop can be about US$ 10. Secondly, there’s the black market tra$h, which essentially is the same thing, only more illegal. Thirdly, there’s the export of used but fully functional computer, fridges, cell phones etc. from the global North to the global South.
When it comes to legal and illegal tra$h, the report points at the problem not really being whether what’s sold generates proper VAT, the problem is that regardless of who sells and buys, there are not adequate systems available when the tra$h reaches its final destination – it is taken care of by children and people living in poverty. The result is spelled in raised levels of led in their blood, and a long list of other things. For some tra$h tycoons, the ends justify the means. “Recycling” a computer costs about 15% in India, compared to West Europe.
For the donated computers and white goods, the problem will in the end be the same: Nowhere to recycle once the family fridge goes WEEE. I.e., it might feel all great giving your used laptop to an orphanage in Sub-Saharan Africa instead of sending it back to recycling, but trashly speaking, you might actually make things worse. Also worth to mention is that much of the used things that are supposed to be donated, actually end up as tra$h (and in some circumstances, its the other way round).
One of the more interesting, and at the same time deeply disturbing phenomena brought forward by the report are the so-called “trash tourists” that roam scrap yards and shady business offices in the EU. Trash tourists are essentially people who migrate in search of tra$h, more or less voluntarily. Makes me think of a Swedish investigative journalist TV-programme, exposing a businessman who in effect employed men from West Africa, without paying them, to sort out recycled car tires. He claimed they were guests, visiting to scout the market. They lived in barracks on the (incidentally toxic) grounds.
To conclude, the report notes with sadness that the Basel Convention, in place to prevent all this since 1989, is still terribly dysfunctional.
If you haven’t heard of FOUND Magazine, check out the publication’s charming origin myth. Incidentally, FOUND founder Davy Rothbart has a book coming out called Requiem for a Paper Bag. Like all books about trash, I want to read it. Stay tuned.
Posting may be light or Victor-centric this week as I (Leila) am in Uganda for the day job. While waiting for my ride outside of the Statistics House in Kampala today, I noticed some Marabou storks lunching in a parkinglot accross the street and promptly dashed over, in heels and through a lot of mud, to take some photos. Let me tell you, I’ve always found the Marabou storks nesting in treetops around the city a bit creepy when overhead. They are even more so up close and on the ground. And so BIG. Imagine if pidgeons were larger than our children!
…I root around online for trash tidbits. At home, I search Google News at least once a week for terms like “trash,” “garbage,” “solid waste,” “recycle,” and “compost,” but I rarely take the time to dig into specific sites for newly posted trashy treasures. Clearly I should more often. Just look what I found today searching Flickr for photos tagged “upcycled”.
In case you were wondering, there are over 16,000 photos tagged “upcycled” on Flickr (and an overlapping nearly 8,000 tagged upcycle) like the stellar photo above from scribblenation’s photostream of an upcycled album cover via which I discovered the Trashion Nation photo pool and entries in the Upcyclist Party Contest pool.
This week in trash news:
- British rats thrive in the recession;
- Dever cuts trash in half with city composting;
- A couple in Singapore turn trash into detergent, air freshener and fertilizer (recipe included);
- California’s groundbreaking legislation to reduce its carbon footprint pits trash to fuel lobby against food to fuel lobby;
- Mother Jones’ special issue on trash includes an online forum on waste and recycling with trashperts Elizabeth Royte, Eric Lombardi, Annie Leonard and Susan Strasser; and
- Grist pooh poohs then defends Earth Day.
As you may remember after my enthusiastic discovery of and posting on contxts earlier this year, I use a free texting service as a business card. By use, I mean I have set it up. But I haven’t actually had much use for it. Yet. And while I’m sure I will, this past weekend at a green festival in New Jersey is the perfect example of why the business card still serves a purpose. For the time being. The folks who came out to the event were not an iPhone bumping crowd. These peeps were too cool for excess gagetry. Which is why I wanted to stay in touch with many of them, which brings me back to the original dilemma: how to give out contact info without creating trash at an event where a lot of people aren’t carrying cell phones and even if they are, reply “oh, I don’t text” if you mention that option.
I ended up writing down my info on scrap paper, which is a perfectly acceptable solution. And even though the vast majority of social settings I encounter involve people twitching to check their mobile device every two seconds (myself included), I still want a “slow card” option. And it must look good.
Enter instructables. The other day someone posted a how-to guide for creating your own plantable paper notecards.
This is an idea I’ve thought of for business cards—as in having them printed on paper with embedded flower seeds. But now I’m thinking, a) why not make them myself with my own designs and b) why not use the plantable paper cards as small batch event take-aways with the name of the site and continue to participate in the paper-free mobile revolution for personal contact info? So that’s the plan. Stay tuned for tales of paper making mishaps as everydaytrash dares to ask: can homemade seed cards be sleek and chic? And the important follow up question: will New Yorkers plant them?
For more on paper-free digit exchange, I recommend this short episode of MobileBehavior called “Will Mobile Kill the Business Card?“. Industry experts weigh in, including my sister who has the best idea of all (no bias!): let there be music.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Yesterday we reported on rad trash activist Yuyun Ismawati being awarded one of this years Goldman Environmental Prizes. One of Ismawati’s fellow recipients, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, is also truly worthy of praise.
Hasan, a lawyer, works on behalf of the 20,000+ ship breaking workers dismantling ships in yards on the shores of Bangladesh, work that is being carried out under enormous hazards. Think lead paint counted by the tonnes, and any other toxic you might find on a ship, you see, they arrive as is. According to Hasan’s bio on the Goldman Prize web, one worker dies each week. As with electronic tra$h, which we’ve talked about in several posts, ship tra$h is a very lucrative business. Somewhere out there sits a gang of ship dismantling fat cats, with blood on their diamond credit cards.
Hasan’s work has led to, among other things, increased government legislation and increased public awareness. Last month, 36 ship yards were closed following tightened regulations instituted by the Bangladesh Supreme Court. For these achievements, we lift our hats off for Hasan, and hope that increased publicity might make ship owners think twice, before sending their used-up naval transportation units to the coast of Bangladesh, where incidentally the rare Irawaddy dolphin seems to be making a comeback.
Late yesterday we discovered that on Twitter (another Internet sensation), the hashtag #trash is not really used by anyone for anything in particular. These days are gone, fellow garbloggers. Please join us in filling #trash with the meaning it deserves (and remember to follow @hashtags to make it work)!
To learn more about Twitter and hashtags, check out the Twitter Fan Wiki.
As you know, everydaytrash.com is not a product pimping site. Of course, every once in a while we come across something made of trash with such a good story behind it, we just have to share. This evening, it’s these colorful bags made of old plastic bags by Conserve, a collective of women living in the slums of Delhi.
Given the tabloid coverage of the little girl from Slumdog Millionaire this week, it’s refreashing to see a skills-building, income generating, women’s empowerment program from India with such bright and hopeful products.