Once is not enough

At our office we reuse packaging a great deal . Cartons , polybags , envelopes are neatly opened to enable reuse. Any paper bags received are definitely reused. We recently made envelopes from magazine paper. Now we’re exploring Furoshiki inspired packing options for some materials that we send out to clients.

Packaging of most products is a resource intensive activity . Paper , plastic is used liberally by manufacturers ,retailers. Most of which is discarded on receipt of the material. At every stage we can and must explore + implement ways to minimize packaging to serve the purpose of the product being transported from A to B in a safe , neat condition. Even so we can find ourselves with hillocks of packaging material. It makes no sense to toss away packaging received and buy fresh packaging material.Reuse. Reuse.Reuse. Recycle. Once is definitely not enough.

You can help design a more sustainable world.

As designers, we influence both business strategy and consumer emotion, and this gives us a great opportunity to lead the movement away from a throwaway culture. We’re at the epicenter, where our leadership is not only appreciated but has become expected as a moral responsibility – both for ecology and economy. Though leading this change in mentality and behavior will take effort, it will not be difficult..

Thought inspiring article by Ravi Sawhney .

The opportunity for and responsibility of designers (and companies) to use design meaningfully to catalyze a cultural shift to a more sustainable world exists across industries – whether furniture , clothing , vehicles and bags !

At Clean Planet when we create bag styles – a key criterion for taking a style forward is whether the design has the potential to be enduring. Can this fit into a wearer’s attire and help him or her look stylish 2 , 3 or more years into the future ? The styles in our core ranges are evaluated rigorously for this aspect. In that sense , we see design as part of quality.

While designers have the responsibility and opportunity to lead us away from a throwaway culture – really speaking that opportunity and responsibility rests equally with every citizen of the planet. As citizens and customers we can choose to value enduring style and quality. And to reflect that in everyday choices. Don’t change the mobile phone every year , extend the life of your garments , furniture , gadgets by using them carefully ,maintaining them well , repair when necessary. When you finally decide to replace a product which is still usable – give it to someone instead of throwing it away or stashing it in the attic.

You can help design a more sustainable world.

Green School

John Hardy says that he was inspired to create the Green School after he watched ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘. It’s amazing what you can create and catalyze when you allow yourself to be inspired and follow it up with substantive action. Contrast that with watching something , getting all fired up for a while and then going back to life as usual.

It’s an interesting model that can be adapted in creative forms by educational institutes , communities and companies across the world – adapted for local environment , needs and culture.

A case for quieter malls

These days malls (in Mumbai) seem to let out the central space for promotions and events especially on week ends. The companies hosting the promotion seem to think the best way to get return for investing in the event is to do so at a decibel level which will reach out to every corner of the mall. What follows then is ear damaging decibel level. People bring infants to malls.The risk to infants is even higher. Old people with hearing problems would have a tough time making conversation while in the mall.

The event at a local mall yesterday was aimed at kids. The health of the children is seriously at risk to be exposed to such decibel levels. The store I was at had glass doors. Yet the sound of the promotion pervaded drowning the sound of the music in the store. It was impossible to browse through other store windows due to the cacophony. This is counter productive for the mall and the stores.

Yours truly asked for directions to the mall office. It was located in a corner of the building. Met the mall manager and shared my views. From her expression and reactions 2 things were clear :

1. This was the first time they (she and 2 other persons from her team ) were faced with the point of view that such a decibel level is a nuisance and a health risk.

2. No visitor to the mall had ever approached them to share such feedback.

In India we generally see 2 extreme reactions from retail customers – passively endure poor service/quality or aggression. The mid path of assertive , consistent feedback is a rarity. Especially if it means waiting few minutes to contact the store manager/ fill out a feedback form / call a help line of the company / email them.

Remember that businesses are not always responsive to feedback. Unless they see a critical mass of feedback they allow status quo to exist. Your feedback therefore is especially important if the situation is to change

Whether through action or inaction – we shape the environment we inhabit. Pl choose to influence it.

Gift Green

GIFTS now have a new color – GREEN !

At Clean Planet we are committed to creative solutions for a joyous , sustainable world. A step in that direction is GIFT GREEN - fun , green gifting ideas. A space where you can get inspired and inspire others with your ideas for cool , green gifts.

The joy of creating something yourself is indescribable. In that sense a green gift is first and foremost a gift you give to yourself. To the recipient it’s an honor that you took the time and effort to create something. Besides the joy it brings – a green gift is planet friendly.

Welcome to Gift Green.

Recycling – officially chic

via

French luxury house Hermes may just be the catalyst to make recycling officially chic. The house has announced it is launching a collection of goods, ranging from woven leather necklaces to customized signature Kelly bags, all made with recycled pieces of leather and damaged goods. Under the artistic direction of Pascale Mussard, a sixth-generation descendant of the company’s founder, a workshop dubbedpetit h” (or “little h”) brings together seven of the house’s craftsmen with notable artists to rebuild and rebirth the materials.

Its first “petit h” collection features creations including a lamp shade made of famous Hermes silk scarves, designed by Adrien Rovero, and a leather statue of a fawn designed by artist Marjolijn Mandersloot. Priced from 50 euros to 50,000 euros,(or $70 to $70,000 at current exchange rates), the premiere collection will be on sale at the Hermès flagship store at 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, but only from Nov. 13 to Dec. 4. A second collection will be available in Tokyo and Osaka in May 2011, while the third  collection will be sold exclusively in New York and Beverly Hills in October of next year.

Interesting to see a luxury brand like Hermes embrace recycling. At prices going upto 50,000 Euros it will definitely encourage consumers to recycle !

Miracle

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

– Albert Einstein

The pursuit of convenience

The Japanese take convenience very seriously. A lot of things are structured to be ‘convenient’. Tea bags are individually packed in plastic sachets , likewise wet-tissues. Some brands even offer cookie packs where each cookie is packed individually. Most restaurants will offer wet tissues or towels individually packed in plastic. Vending machines are located in most streets/buildings dispensing the beverage of your choice in a variety of sizes. When it rains every mall/hotel/store sets up a stand in which your umbrella can get a plastic cover (to prevent water dripping inside the establishment ). Naturally (when it rains) you use a plastic bag for every such establishment you step into. The list can go on.

Multiply this activity a few million times just in Tokyo city and you can daily create a Mount Fuji of plastic.

Japan is by no means isolated in it’s pursuit of convenience and the consequent unnecessary damage to the planet. Most countries are on the same pursuit – faring better in some aspects and worse in others.

It would require (enormous) conviction , courage and creativity for businesses to create alternative ways to sell. The choice for a consumer is relatively easier – choose to buy products that don’t entail unnecessary packaging , carry your own water etc.

As consumers and businesses unless we choose to make a difference – this pursuit of convenience will make for an even more inconvenient future.

I will not die an unlived life

I will not die an unlived life.

I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

Dawna Markova

Awesome service

Japan is undoubtedly the land of awesome service. It’s not unusual for a taxi driver to stop the meter if he feels he’s taking a longer route than necessary.

On asking a Muji store associate for the nearest train station location – she pulled out a map book of Tokyo , photocopied the relevant page and then came out 2 floors to the street level to indicate the direction.

It’s cold and rainy in Tokyo. Stopped yesterday at a cafe en route to collect a sandwich takeout. The restaurant manager invited us to wait inside where it was deliciously warm and comfortable. Served hot tea while we were waiting, added an extra topping to the orders placed. Brought warmth , comfort and joy. Raised the bar for service.

What happens when friendly awesome service is delivered ? The person doing so feels good and empowered. The customer is delighted. Possibly becomes an evangelist/regular customer of that company / store. If the customer is a visiting foreigner it enhances their experience of the country. At a basic human level we seek and appreciate a sense of connectedness. Some things go beyond the realm of business.

Muji is one of the largest retailers in Japan. The cafe is a much smaller business.

Awesome service is possible at any scale of business.