Tuesday, February 5, 2008

NYGIF- Gift Fair Sustainability Talk

Yesterday I went to the big gift fair at the Javits Center with my friend Tiffany from RePlayGround. She had an extra pass so she asked me if I wanted to tag along and check out the talk "sustainability: design for a better world: a manufacturer's guide to going green" super long title right?

The talk was really interesting, the speakers were Jaime Salm of MIO, Paul Murray of Herman Miller and Peter Strugatz from Ice Stone which is practically right around the corner from my house. The most important thing to note is that Jaime Salm is completely adorable! LOL I have a soft spot for Spanish guys....OK maybe not the MOST important thing.... anyways..

Let's seee... my favorite things about each presentation....

Let's start with Paul Murray from Herman Miller. He explained how they broke down all the materials they use in manufacturing their office chairs in order to find all the properties and environmental impact of each chemical that was involved. They wanted to make their newest chair, the Mirra (pic below) more eco-friendly. They had to write up contracts all over the place to convince their manufacturers that they weren't trying to steal the formulas, just trying to figure out what the hell goes into the stuff they make.

So once they figured out what was actually going into the manufacturing of their chairs they substituted the chemicals that were harmful with healthier alternatives. They also do a "take-back" system with old or worn out chairs. The Mirra chair ended up getting Cradle to Cradle certification because of the take-back system and the change in the materials. Which is pretty cool, apparently they were the 1st ones to get it for an office chair. If you haven't heard about the "cradle to cradle" concept you should totally check it out here.

Cradle to cradle in a nutshell is making new objects in such a way that they can easily be made into something of equal or higher value. It's the idea of designing objects that never really come to the end of their lifecycle and end up in a landfill. It's like recycling except that a lot of recycling, especially in big manufacturing situations, makes the old objects into something of less value. Like when we recycle paper, usually the recycled paper is of a lower quality than the original paper was.

Ok so back to the talk.....

Peter Strugatz from Ice Stone. Ice Stone is basically a mixture of recycled glass and concrete and it's this super durable surface people can use for tabletops, sinks, their patios ect. Coming up with a really durable pretty material that is eco-friendly is a big feat, most of the chemicals and materials that make things durable aren't eco-friendly at all, think about it all those nasty smelling sealers ect. So that's pretty cool that they've come up with something durable and attractive too!

One of my favorite things he talked about was in his words: "community-based urban environmental manufacturing" so basically they're really into creating new jobs and making their factories great environments for people to work in. They have "town meetings" with people from the community too, just to say hey what's up, how're things? And the best part is that their factories are lit naturally by skylights! I love that idea, I wish I could light my little 1st floor apartment that way! : D
Check out Ice Stone here.

Interesting and completely horrifying fact that Peter shared: 75% of glass in the US is thrown out. in Europe 90% of the glass is recycled! wtf? I'm living in such a backward country.

And last but certainly not least, hottie Jaime Salm from MIO. I 1st noticed MIO at 3R, this awesome eco-friendly shop in my neighborhood. They carry the 3d wall paper tiles which are made of recycled paper. Jaime talked about the whole design process his company uses and the ways they've had to talk manufacturers into using healthier inks ect. He also talked about how he pitches his eco-friendly ideas to people by highlighting all the positives and not going to much into all the negative reasons why someone would want to choose eco-frindly products. basically less talk about how bad it is if you buy non-eco friendly products and more talk about how beneficial it is to buy eco-friendly.

Ok kids, I'm pooped. more about cool stuff at the gift fair in this week's Inspiration Saturday.

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