Waste not

Maybe it's being surrounded by all the creative energies here at Function:, but I would definitely say I fancy myself a creative person. I need to be creative in positioning my client's news, creative in how we promote Function:, creative in my excuses for being late to work (kidding on the last one).

On a personal level I like to think that I can be ("can" being the operative word here) creative when it comes to home decor. In my mind I have aspirations of generating fantastic pieces of art to decorate the walls of my home. I see an old window frame and think, "how great would that be on the wall with a big, blown up picture behind it". Or look at my kid's empty formula containers and thought they would be really useful as planters. And maybe, just maybe, I could do it. Maybe I could create something useful and artistic, and even, dare I say, good, from items I have or have seen around. (Art is subjective, right?) My problem with my personal artistic ambitions is that I never get around to executing them. So the formula container planters end up going out with the recycling and the old window frame gets tossed. It's a waste.

Not to get all environmental huggy-huggy on you, but we, the people, really do waste a lot. From not turning off water when we brush our teeth, to letting things go to landfills because we are tired of them or they have served their purpose. This is a problem in the architecture and design community, as manufacturers send product samples and once those samples have served their purpose or become outdated the question of what to do with them arises. Very often materials get wasted and sent to landfill.

Today I had a really interesting call with Mike Dungan, cofounder of ZeroLandfill(TM) and President and CEO of BeeDance . For those of you who aren't familiar, ZeroLandfill is a wonderful project that began in Cleveland, Ohio.
In 2006, ZeroLandfill™ began in 2006 as a recycling effort. Rather than throw expired specification samples into the trash, Mike and a few others organized a one-day "event" where architects and designers could drop off their old samples to be recycled. However, the program expanded when one of the team noted that that artists and educators would love the materials. These artists and educators where then invited to harvest the materials for their own projects.

Since inception, ZeroLandfill has collected materials in over 10 markets and is planning a great deal of expansion in 2011. I learned about ZeroLandfill through a client of ours who works with them to ensure that their product samples don't go to landfill. I also spoke with a talented artist, Nicole McGee who creates beautiful art using many items she has upcycled with ZeroLandfill.

These conversations have gotten me to rethink how I use the items around me. During our conversation Mike said, "In nature there's a lot of waste, but nothing's wasted. Humankind could achieve the same results."

So my readers, as manufacturers, designers, architects, think about how you are using what you have and what you are doing with it when you're done. Get creative and if you are like me, great ideas but not sure about the execution, look for programs like ZeroLandfill and see if you can give those old samples a good home.

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