Sharing ideas, creating discussion.The guest blog shares ideas, opinions and stories that inform, inspire and create discussion around wasting less and living more. Become a guest blogger.
I have always been interested in the detritus of life: what is left behind. How we accumulate and dispose of things; materially. Where does it all go?
I was raised by parents born in the 1920s who like others of that era had values of the stereotypical wartime generation (e.g. ‘waste not, want not’ and the old adage ‘make do and mend’) and were skilled craftspeople (e.g. engineers, cooks and bakers, upholsterers, and seamstresses).It truly was an Anderson Shelter, vegetable garden and home-made everything upbringing.
Lizanne and I come from very different but similar backgrounds. Growing up in very different environments, Lizanne being from Holland and I from Mexico, we share the same passions for crafts, making and the environment. We crossed paths in Brighton, where we studied the MA in Sustainable Design.
With Lizanne being more inclined to closed loops systems and waste management and me experienced with community interaction and locality, we decided to embark a journey together.
As our final MA project we created the blog www.design-resource.org: a collection of design projects that use waste materials as a resource to make meaningful and ecologically sound objects.
From our personal journey and research, we noticed that increasingly designers like to respond to the impacts of waste: they are aware of pollution caused by landfill and incineration, the consequences of exploiting natural resources and the degradation of ecosystems.
We realized that not all recycling is environmentally friendly. It depends on many different factors like: production process, use of toxics, treatment of materials, mixing of materials, whether the objects keep their recyclability, etc.
For instance, something can be recycled and made in a beautiful way, but a high amount of toxics or energy might be used. On the other hand, something can be environmentally friendly but poorly designed and made.
To consider what is good and what can be done better, we developed a framework with tools to analyze the design projects.
The framework highlights five key considerations when designing and making products from waste materials: material, production, eco-credentials, craftsmanship, and narrative. More information on each specific category can be found in the ‘tools’ section of our blog.
We invite our visitors to comment on the blog entries when they have a different perspective or a key bit of missing information that could enrich the knowledge around recycling and design-making.
This way we hope to give more understanding of when designing with waste material is sustainable and when it is not.
The composition of waste is very diverse and complex. Most products and materials are from their outset not designed to be recycled, which makes it difficult to turn recycling into a straightforward process and it can be hard to define when recycling is beneficial and when it is harmful. It is therefore understandable that designer-makers occasionally make mistakes and in turn recycling processes can be carried out in an insufficient way.
Still, we are convinced that designer-makers – with their creativity, expertise and knowledge – can help to find solutions for the waste problems we are facing today. We feel designer-makers have an eye to see beyond ‘waste’ and have the skills to turn it into precious and worthy objects.
Our blog shows that here is a world of opportunities for designers to explore and re-use waste materials in a skillful way.
Lizanne Dirkx is a designer – researcher based in The Netherlands, with and expertise in sustainability, design and design thinking. Lizanne works as a freelance designer on commissions and self initiated projects.
Raquel Sereno is a designer – researcher based in the UK, with expertise in sustainability, design thinking and material experimentation. Currently working as Project Manager in a community based project with Oliver Heath. Also working part time as freelance designer on commissions and self initiated projects.
We’ve received these lovely leftovers recipes which you can make at home. Thank you for Alice Kay for providing them!
Sunday dinner soup courtesy of Lee Copplestone
This soup is made from leftover Sunday dinner veg. Its very tasty.
You will need
- leftover carrots, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes etc (any vegetables are fine, apart from roasted vegetables or chips)
- ½ pint of stock (+/- depending on amount of veg)*
- ½ tsp mixed herbs
- 1 tbsp houmous (this is the MAGIC ingredient that both thickens the soup and adds flavour)
- dash of single cream (+ dash of white wine/cider/apple juice if desired)
- salt and pepper to taste
- The first step is to cut all cooked vegetables into similar sized small pieces and place them into a blender. Pour in enough stock so that it just covers the vegetables then add the mixed herbs and houmous. Then blend the mixture until smooth.
- Add more stock to create desired thickness of soup and a dash of cream or wine for a richness of flavour. Finally add salt and pepper to taste and simmer gently until hot. Serve with croutons or grated cheese.
* If you’ve had roast chicken use the bones to make your own stock for the soup.
Sweetcorn and rice fritters courtesy of Angela Tibke
A quick and speedy dinner or snack that uses up that left over rice from the night before.
You will need
- 150g boiled rice (cooled and well drained)
- 90g Self raising flour
- 198g sweetcorn
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tbsp milk
- half an onion, chopped finely
- a pinch of Mediterranean herbs
- 2 eggs, beaten
- oil for frying
*You can add any other vegetable e.g. peppers or spinach if they are in need of using up or try a hint of chilli.
The total number of branded coffee shops in London alone stands at around 1,522 and is growing daily. The ubiquitous big three: Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Nero are present, it would seem, absolutely everywhere. As well as other food-based outlets such as Pret a Manger and EAT. Even discounting privately owned coffee shops, that’s an awful lot of coffee.
The 14,022 coffee shops in the UK generate a combined turnover of over £5 billion and a strong growth in the coffee industry is predicted for the years to come.
In the UK, it’s estimated that around 1.25 tons of coffee grounds are used every week, with the likelihood that the majority is sent to landfill. This is clearly a problem. Coffee grounds can be composted and reused for things like farming industry. But the likelihood of that happening is unlikely.
Waste Watch got in touch with Fungi Futures (very friendly people!) to have a go at turning some of this waste coffee into something useful. In fact, something better than just useful: something edible.
Fungi Futures provides a kit which allows you to grow Gourmet Pearl Oyster Mushrooms from used coffee grounds. They provided the information and the mushroom spawn for free…all we had to do was get hold of the coffee.
Seeing that our office drinks quite a lot (of coffee) I thought we could easily muster enough from the daily emptying of the cafetiere. I was wrong. We needed a far larger amount: ten kilos. After some explaining to bemused cafe workers and almost having to dance in front of a coffee shop full of customers, I managed to get hold of over ten kilos of the stuff.
It was a lot easier to source ten kilos of coffee than I first thought and the sheer amount of coffee drunk locally really showed just how much must be wasted around the UK, let alone the world.
A willing team of volunteers from our office’s new Gardening Group, weighed and mixed in the coffee grounds in the correct proportions (275g of spawn to 1.5kg, to be precise).
This mix was then put back into a special grow bag with a perforated vent to allow the spawn to breathe. A few paper clips sealed the top of the bags and the mushrooms were placed on a desk in our office with a blanket to keep them warm at night.
This was the first stage: incubation, and should last for around 3 weeks before the fruiting stage. If we did everything ok, we’ll now get tasty, edible mushrooms. All we have to do is wait…
The waste coffee to mushroom experiment is entering its third week. The bags are looking whiter then ever as the mycelium continue to grow. In the next few days I’m going to cut the tops off the bags and allow the mycelium to fruit and it’ll be these fruiting bodies which will what we eat! A couple of bags have taken strides into the lead with their whiteness in shroomy anticipation and a couple are lagging behind a bit. Hopefully they all come good when it’s time to harvest. The technique for the fruiting phase is that when the bags have gone completely white with mycelium I cut the tops off leaving a little gap above the coffee, and then spray the bags with water twice a day. I’ll need to find a way to store the bags so they can be sprayed yet without making a corner of the office really damp, else it becomes somewhere mushrooms we’re not so keen on eating start to grow as well!
The following three weeks have been a turbulent time for the mushroom project. What started off as very promising looking bags of coffee and mycelium took a turn for the worse. Two of the bags ended up developing a fairly sinister green mould.
It didn’t look good and advice from the ever helpful staff at Fungi Futures said these bags could be sprinkled with salt then left for another week or so. Hopefully in this time the green mould would have died off and the growth of the oyster mushrooms would resume. Unfortunately I was unwell and out of the office so the bags were somewhat neglected for a week. Upon my return the green mould (which had yet to be treated) had appeared in nearly all the bags including an almost total take-over of three of them. Action was needed, so three bags were composted straight away and the remaining five were cut open and sprayed. Some salt made its way on to the small patches of green in all the bags and I was unsure whether we would see any mushrooms at all. Things were not looking good!
A nervous week followed the day of action opening the bags. There was little sign of new life in any of the mushroom bags after some rather intermittent spraying. Hopes were down on the prospect of a successful mushroom growing project. Maybe it hadn’t been warm enough in the office overnight? Maybe the coffee was not clean enough? Maybe we hadn’t looked after them properly? Then one day we were relieved to see our favourite bag had developed a small colony of mushrooms growing out of the small gap between the coffee and the side of the bag! Success at last! Much excitement followed and we were relieved that at least one bag had worked.
The following day however we were quite surprised to see that the mushrooms had doubled in size overnight!
And then later that afternoon we could clearly see they had grown a fair amount during the day whilst we sat near them. Colleagues sitting closely with their backs near to them feigned alarm (I think?) at theses new office invaders though it was remarkable just how quickly things were moving on after what we thought would be a failed attempt.
Two days after that and the mushrooms were looking really healthy.
Now two of the other bags also had colonies growing in them and the first batch were getting rather large.
By the end of the week batch one were towering out of the bag and looking like they would be ready for harvest soon. General feeling in the office however was part amazement, part intrigue and part caution about just how quickly they were growing.
If I hadn’t freaked out about the state of the planet, I might never have made my underpants out of nettles.
But I did freak out. I had read more than was sensible about how wasteful we have all become. So I set about re-engineering my life. I got an allotment, and switched to Abel & Cole for local, seasonal deliveries of whatever food I couldn’t grow myself. I bought an electric car, and switched my tariff to wind-power. And then I started to think about clothes.
Lucy Moore endeavors to eat meat ethically and is on a year long mission to relieve her ‘meat debt’ by eating Offal.
New Year’s Eve 2011, I am eating steak, savouring its steaky goodness and waiting to begin a self-imposed meat embargo.
Earlier that year, I read an article online that talked about modern meat consumption and made the suggestion that if you eat meat, you should have enough respect for the animal to eat all of it, not just the sanitised and consumer-friendly chicken breasts, mince and chops that supermarkets provide.
My mind is currently being taken over by stuff and the fact that in my modest house, we have far too much of it.
Take my recent experience in my kitchen. Our tiny workspace had become over-cluttered with so much stuff, I had little space left to cook and no enthusiasm to get creative. I just couldn’t summon up the inspiration. Yet, all my cookery books, baking tins and kitchen gadgets filled the worktops and cupboards, serving as a reminder of the good old days of adventurous culinary concoctions.
Thanks to Andrew Nutter for this delicious waste less, live more recipe…
Smoked Haddock, Lancashire Cheese and Spring Onion Fishcakes
A right thrifty recipe that could be made from scratch using fresh fish or made using any leftover cooked fish and potato from a previous meal, making it the perfect credit crunch lunch. I use smoked haddock in mine which I feel gives the cake extra depth. Calling it a cake always makes me laugh as it gives me flash backs to Peter Kay’s Garlic Bread/Cheesecake sketch. Fish Cake anyone????
Collaborative Consumption is a great term and brilliantly discussed in books like What’s Mine is Yours and The Mesh as well as demonstrated in this great video:
The thinking is simple: we have stuff we don’t use all the time, if we share it with others we share the cost and save the planet. It’s not new, we were doing it for years in the small communities that we lived in – we called it bartering.