From poo to paper, eggshell to teacup. Design, innovation and recycling.
What if we could recycle and transform everything, rather than staying in our endless production loop?
A while back, I visited GF Smith’s showroom in London for the first time. This company is an iconic UK paper brand, supplying paper and materials since 1885.
In May 2019 an exhibition with the title ‘Beyond Paper – The Craft of Material Making’ caught my eye. In collaboration with Material Driven (a design agency and materials library), GF Smith was showcasing one of the most cutting-edge recycling ranges.
Have you ever seen paper made from elephant stools? Handmade tiles created from recycled coffee grounds, ink extracted by air pollution or teacups crafted with eggshell waste Well, I was astonished to discover how recycled material technology has evolved. I would never have imagined seeing such amazing cladding materials and paper born from the most quirky items, with such visionary purposes and proposals.
AIR-INK®, for example, upcycles air pollution into sustainable inks, paints, coatings, plastics and construction bio-materials. From its first appearance as an MIT Media Lab experiment, the project soon conjured up a device that turned captured particulate matter into a safe, water-based ink.
Poopoopaper™ produces beautiful, practical, tree-free, eco-friendly and sustainable paper made mainly from the poo of elephants, cows, donkeys and horses, all hugely fibre-rich. The paper comes in sheets and rolls and is suitable for creative stationery and packaging. I can just imagine the next question running through your head, and the answer is no: poo-poo paper does not smell. It is odourless, and you can send amazing greeting cards without any embarrassment. Even better, you will have contributed to the next step in the evolution of conscious human beings.
Next time you’re tiling, make yourself a brew. I was really impressed by the aesthetics of caffeine tiles created by a unique blend of coffee grounds that would otherwise go to waste. The tiles are locally produced in London by That’s Caffeine in five warm shades of brown; at a glance, they look like granite stone.
These products, and many others, represent the future of design production generated by potentially discarded materials – fully sustainable and, most importantly, biodegradable. This is the way to keep our renewable cycle up and running!
Hopefully, amazing tiles made with plastic oyster shell cladding or bags created with water coconut-based faux leather will be soon widely available on the open market.
In the meantime, you can get a taste of a more sustainable future by exploring the Material Driven website, where you’re sure to be inspired by many avant-garde design firms committed to protecting the environment. By converting all wasted and recyclable materials into appealing designs, a new concept of growth is born.