Wednesday, 29 October 2008

"Man is the only species capable of generating waste- things that no other life on earth wants to have." Gunter Pauli, Industrial Ecologist

I got up Tuesday morning, went in the kitchen, found my coffee cup, which was dirty, and went hunting for the scrubber to wash it (I mentioned in a prior posting that I saved the plastic mesh  wrapping from some fruit a roommate bought and have been using it to wash my pots and pans). 

Here, I will add the image.....

Well, the cleaning girl took it for rubbish, and yes she threw it away. Go figure! I guess what I see as a treasure she saw as garbage. Yes it is just a scrubber to me, but every little thing counts I think.
Can we change the way we see or consumption? 
Do we need more information about what we buy and how we can recycle it? 
If people were given more information will they use it or just waste it still because they don't have time to deal with that sort of thing?....

If there wasn't this thing called "global warming" and worries our our environment would we be bothering with all of this recycling at all?....

We all get up every morning, get dressed, have breakfast and brush our teeth, maybe not in that order, but we go through the steps nonetheless. We learned how to do these things without even much thought to it. They are habits we have created for ourselves. We need to think about changing our consumption habits in the same way and then make it a habit. 

Later that day another roommate came home from the grocer and bought corn with the same wrapping. Before she could throw it away I claimed it as my new treasure! AArrrrgg!! ;-)

Journalism Students Strike again!!

...Ok, one journalism student.

I decided to set up camp in the kitchen this morning to do some research. I was doing research minding my own business and in came one of my roommates. She is a journalism student. She basically walked in the kitchen and said, " Good, you are here!". She insisted on interviewing me for her class. When she told me it was about recycling I had to agree.
That was the second interview in the past week!

Note to self: Do not leave my room ever again!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

One person's trash is another person's treasure!!!

Saturday, 25/10/2008

I agreed to help a few friends in the journalism course with a project there were working on over the weekend. They were interested in filming and interviewing students that were in fashion design, etcetera. They were really interested in my messenger bag designs and that I reused many materials to create my bags. They were also going to meet with Traid, which is a company that actually takes in recycled clothing and revamps them into great fashion pieces to then resell.

This is for a great cause!!

We met up on Saturday and the crew filmed me shopping for material and supplies for my bags as well as interviewing me about my craft.

We ended up doing two shoots, Our first shoot was at a second-hand shop to look for material. The second shoot would be filming me actually sewing a bag.

The shop was great and everything there was £2, some items were less! Before I left the shop I purchased some amazing pieces including these rusty orange trousers, which happen to be Banana Republic brand. I paid about £2 for them and I am sure they sold in the store for over £70. easy..They will be grand material for a messenger bag!

Later in the evening we all met up again for the second shoot. One of my friends actually gave me a pair of his old trousers that were torn for me to reuse for making bags! Very cool!

The crew

Monday, 27 October 2008

Happy Hunting!!

I have been taking advantage of the sites the RSA has given me ...Yay! Knowledge in key!

Three trees don’t make a forest
This is a not-for-profit social enterprise set up by directors of three established and successful agencies. The aim is to provide tools for all designers and businesses involved in design and advertising to inspire them to re-think their working cultures and start to produce sustainable design that really works. The ultimate goal is to be the catalyst for the creation of a zero-carbon design industry. 

One planet living
One planet living is a global initiative based on ten principles of sustainability developed by BioRegional and WWF.

The happy planet index
The Happy Planet Index is an innovative new measure that shows the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is delivered.

Transition Towns 

The mission of this charity is to inspire, encourage, network, support and train communities as they consider, adopt and implement a Transition Initiative.

Plan A 

Plan A is the Marks and Spencer five-year, 100-point 'eco' plan to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the business and the world. They will work with customers and suppliers to combat climate change, reduce waste, safeguard natural resources, trade ethically and build a healthier nation.

Worldwatch Institute
The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization known around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues.

Adbusters is a not-for-profit, reader-supported, 120,000-circulation magazine concerned about the erosion of the physical and cultural environments by commercial forces.

Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time. Mark Twain

I really need to know habits and how they are formed in order to design a way to get people to reduce, reuse and recycle right!!!

I found a few links that were quite helpful

August 14th, 2007 in Featured, Productivity
18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick

Author, Scott H Young

November 20th, 2007 in Featured, Lifehack
How to Quit a Bad Habit by Answering Four Power Questions

Author, Marco Adragna

Sunday, 26 October 2008

My trip to Tesco, Waitrose grocery and Lush stores..yay!!

Gathering information and research my topic, Design for Elegant Frugality, sustainable graphic design

After getting a bit of advice from my instructor I thought I would do a bit of investigating a certain direction in my research. I went to a few shops and begin to ask questions about what they do to recycle in their stores. I kept an open mind and hoped to come up with some direction in my research.

21/10/2008, It was early morning and I walked into the
Waitrose store on Marylebone Street near Paddington Park, London UK. There were many men in suites and ties unpacking groceries to stock the shelves for the day (what is with the suit and ties?..). I asked one of the men what the store did with the boxes after stalking the shelves each day. He told me they break them all down and take them to the recycling bin in back of the store to be recycled. I asked if I could take pictures of the process of them breaking down the boxes, etcetera and he told me I had to ask the main headquarters for permission. I left it at that and thanked him for the information.

I then went down the block to the
Tesco Grocery Store. I looked around and found an employee stocking the shelves. He was not in a fancy suite, but busy stocking shelves for the day nonetheless. I asked him what the store did with the boxes after stocking the shelves. He told me the boxes were taken back to the company that delivers the food and they are reused. I thanked him for his time and left.

Overall, most stores reused or recycled their boxes.

I then went to
Lush Fresh handmade Cosmetics to purchase a few items. Whilst I was there I thought I might do a bit of investigating there as well. Lush makes their products from all natural ingredients. They reduce waste by selling items in chunks, like solid shampoos and perfumes and massage bars with simple wrapped paper, rather than put everything in containers. Lush also uses metal tins that can be reused again and again to put your products in.
The interview with my mom came back into thought. She talked about the butcher paper as well as reusable tins.

When Lush sends their products in the post, they
keep packaging to a minimum by using popcorn to cushion the contents rather than plastic Styrofoam. I love that idea!

My Design for Frugality research outline thus far. What am I doing?

I revamped my outline and added a few more things.

What am I doing now?

At this point I am gathering information, interviewing people; my friends, family, roommates and employees at a couple of grocery stores(that was interesting!)about their views on frugality, reusing and recycling in every their day life. Are they doing it? What are they doing?

I have been taking notes and photographs of my own life and what I am doing that is 'green'. 

I am researching websites looking at current companies that are 'green' inspired. I want to know what companies are doing NOW to make a change.

I have been to the library researching books about habits, packaging, design, recycling, and found an interesting book on how recycled paper is actually made....very interesting information. 

I have been asking many questions!!

Interview with my mom, 21/10/2008

I interviewed my mother about frugality and how she lives and how her parents lived. What were some of her experiences on the subject. 

The following are her comments and stories. Thanks mom!

Lessons from the Depression

Ever heard of depression ware? Made with cheaper ingredients, glass and tableware.
It was more fragile because of that but also delicate and considered great collector’s items today.

Most food came in jars and not cans yet. Many people had no packaging at all. They had a smoke house to hang their meats and a root cellar to keep potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips, etc.
They also used drying processes for plums (prunes) grapes (raisins) apricots, apples, peaches, etc.
Other ways they preserved was in pickling, something done since the middle east and their olive business was carried on in the new world with cucumbers, okra, green tomatoes, even watermelon pickles and relishes.
Preserves were just that, which took a lot of sugar.

Reusable was the rule in the day. I still save the little
metal tins. Periodically some manufactures have tried to return to that trend. I can remember when Premium Saltine and Zesta had their tins, and then the stacks would come out in clear plastic wrapper with a tab denoting the brand, sort of like the bags of cereal. You buy the tin once and then buy the bag off the shelf, for a lower economical price.
When buying sugar, flour, other dried goods, you brought your reusable tins and the grocer weighed out so many pounds into your tin.
This is also the time of the “flour” sacks, and if you could afford, you bought in large bags and placed in your own bins in your kitchen cupboard. Grandma Andrews had those.
Plain white flour sacks were bleached and used for kitchen towels. The colored feed sacks, made with printed cotton would be washed and used to make clothing, curtains, scraps added to quilts.
Even worn out clothing and hosiery were made into rag rugs.
The string from the feed sacks was saved into a ball of string. String, twine and rope cost good money back then and a piece of rope was mended with string, and the twine from a bale of hay was balled up and saved for the next harvest to wrap bales again.
Reversible skirts, vests and other clothing items were once very popular. You had two skirts, vests in one and added dimensions to your wardrobe. You have already done that with some of your bags. Your Grandma Andrews liked to make sure that the flip sides of her quilts were as pleasing as the fancy piecework tops. A good job of crocheting or knitting was suppose to be reversible or it was poor quality. I believe I have readily mentioned my reversible doll, and I didn’t even like dolls.
Packaging used to be very simple. You got your “powders” in a folded paper.
I told you about the butcher’s paper. As a little girl, we got candy weighed out in a little brown paper bag, a nickel for an ounce of licorice toes (nibs) they call them now: Penny candy. Some things were actually 5 for a penny. Those were the days. Yeah!

Clothing and other items were wrapped in plain paper and string. Today, you would have to have some fancy paper. I can remember when all the stores gave out those great rope handled reusable shopping bags, Mom would use for trips, white elephant sales at school, etc.
One funny note, although your Grandpa Andrews never drank, he had his collection of whiskey jugs, which were great reusable containers for everything. He even used them as musical instruments. No kidding. I loved that.

Your grandfather saved string that held flour sacks closed and made a ball--used it to mend lots of thing including his socks. That same string worked at the end of my cane pole when fishing with safety pin and grasshoppers or grub worms found in the woodpile. Lol.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

On a Mission....

So I am working on the research phase of my design project and I am on a mission for answers.

I am starting with my own experiences. What do I know about all of this?

I am pretty frugal. I grew up making my own clothes, sewing and making crafts. I shopped at second hand stores and would revamp the clothes to make them ‘new’ to me.

My mother was very resourceful with what she had and I guess that must have rubbed off on me through the years.

I try to make attempts every day to think about what I am leaving behind. I do small things like use reusable tote bags for my shopping verses plastic. I bring my own coffee cup with me verses a throw away cup. I walk more and use transportation less when I know I can get there by foot. I just keep my eyes and mind open to new possibilities.

I am always finding new ways to use things that I never thought about before. My space is filled with items I am reusing.

This is a cookie container I am now using for my sugar. It keeps it fresh!

The butter containers are great for leftovers! I also use them for craft supplies; buttons, needles, thread,...I could go on here. These are great!! 

I have a bag I put all of my recycling in...

I bought a friend a gift and needed wrapping paper. That newspaper recycling collection came in handy!

Many people I know buy excessive amounts of water bottles, even in one days time. I just keep with one bottle and fill it when I need more water. I have read many article recently that the quality of bottled water is the same of that from the tap!! Really!

Instead of going to shops to buy brand new pots and pans, I go to the second-hand shops and find really great items for much much cheaper!!! I bought all of this for under £6!!!

I bought some mixed vegetables for stir-fry, which came in this handy little plastic container. I like to use this container for other food I am trying to keep organized in my refrigerator, like cheese and other vegetables I have cut up and need a container for later use. Just brilliant!

I love my coffee cup! So many people run to coffee shops and get those plastic or paper cups for their coffee. I just make my own coffee at home and use my own cup. This is Eco friendly and saves me a lot of money!

This is my favorite shopping bag here. I bring it everywhere I go, especially if I know I am going shopping!! I just put it in my purse. It doesn’t take up any room at all and saves me from taking home any plastic bags. I give reusable bags to friends and family for birthdays and holiday gifts!

My mother told me this story a week ago.
“...Veggies, onions still came in plastic mesh bags, I have one now. I had seen commercial ones in the store and they cost. If you roll them into a loop, they made great pot scrubbers, and didn't damage pan surfaces, Teflon etc. And cleaned good, walls the car everything.”

Just a few days later I came across a mesh bag used to carry fruit that a roommate had thrown in the garbage. I took it out and washed it off. She was right! It cleans the dishes much better than my green scrub sponge and will not scratch my pots and pans! Happy days!

I found this pasta sauce container works perfect for my toothbrush and toothpaste.

Friday, 24 October 2008


I am from the U.S. and had to purchase new electronics when I got here to the UK. I was already warned about my items not working that well, even if I had an adapter. I had friends that had burned up hair dryers and curling irons trying to use ones from U.S. in the UK.

So, I purchased a curling iron, which I haven't done in quite some time. It isn't an item that one purchases every week, or month. I brought the item home...

I opened the packaging and was a bit surprised! I didn't remember ever buying an item with so much....well.......


So, I bought a curling iron and got



What do I do with all of this? 

How many uses can I get from all of this packaging or am I just going to have to sent it straight to the recycling bin?

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

An aspect of my chosen design and my research process

I am keeping the subject a bit general for the time, but I will be adding more specifics later; photographs, notes and sketches.

My first step in this process is the problem.

1. What are the problems and issue out there? Where do I begin?...

Since my project is Design for Elegant Frugality, there are many ways to go about the project. It could be a packaging challenge, a societal problem, or a consumerism issue...

My second step is Primary Research

I took my own experiences into account.

I had my own recent experience that involved my chosen project. I went shopping and purchased an item with excessive packaging. I wasn’t out to buy a product with so much packaging. As a consumer there was little choice when it came to the particular product. This item was packaged the same way regardless of company or price really.

One aspect of my project research would be investigating my subject.

2. I thought about the need for a better product.

3. What are the other companies doing? Is there a different way other companies are packaging this same product?

4. How can I solve this problem?

I took notes along with photographs of my recent purchase and all that came along with it! I kept all of the items of interest for further research in the future.

I then went out and began taking photographs and gathering information. I went to stores to take photographs of existing packaging items. Took photos of many different brands and styles of the same product. I also searched on the Internet for images of packaging for the same product

I then interviewed people about the subject. I asked students, roommates and friends their views and feelings about the subject.

1. I asked them what they thought about the existing packaging

2. I asked if they thought there was a problem

3. I asked them if they felt it could be done better

Many of the people I interviewed had very diverse and insightful ideas about the subject.

I took notes and compared them to each other. I saved the information for future reference

My third step in the process was Pure Research

After interviewing and gathering all of the information thus far I began doing a bit of pure research, which involved a few repackaging ideas. I drew up some sketches and wrote down notes from all the information I received and began thinking of what might work in place of what is already in the market today.

At this point I have not gotten any further than this step.

My next steps would be:

I would start secondary research to come up with more information on this subject.

I would also start applying some of my research to develop my ideas.

I would then actually start designing some mocks of my designs


Coffee & Brainstorming

Monday, 20 October 2008

I love this company!

We all need to get back to the basics. It can be done! Simplicity!!

A process for design research and a few rambling comments...Yes, this is a work in progress

My first step is to research my subject. The more I know the better I can grasp the project. At this point research is key!!
Before the brief I want to know as much about the subject and client as possible.
It is like an interview really. I never go in an interview without researching the people I am interviewing with. I need to be able to ask questions as well as answer them regarding the position and the company. Is this a company I could work for, what do they pay, are they credible?

-Define the problem
-Is this really a problem?
-What is causing the problem?
-Is there a need?
-Can it be improved?
-Begin to solve the problem

Ways in which I research:
I usually start with
Secondary Research
Know the company/client, the competition, the market, the need for the product, etc.

I look up as much as I can on the subject or company. I check out the web, magazines, I go to stores, check out the news

I sketch down or take notes of what I find and reference information for later use

Keep my mind open!

Primary Research

I look into my own experiences

I then step away from what I think or assume as a designer and
go to others for a new perspective. I like to ask friends and family members, etc. about what they think about the subject to get an idea of how people feel about the subject. We all think different about the same issues, so the more insight from others the better.

Usually the more answers I get the more questions I have about a subject. Then I begin looking in other avenues I then brainstorm ideas that are moving away from the normal ideas that are out there at the moment.

It is like taking a radio apart and seeing what really makes it work...and is there another way to put it together and in doing so will it work better or not as well?...Hhhmmm?...or maybe I shouldn't have taken this thing apart to begin with!?...Eeks!


Define what the client is really looking for
What direction
Cost-How much am I going to get for the work?
Time-How much time do I have to create the product?

Do I go ahead with the project or call in the troops?
(Some jobs are not for everyone. This is important to know before I move ahead. Is the company moving ahead; is there friction between me and the client, etc?)

If I decide this is a project I will get involved in I will give a pitch of my services and talk about cost, time, etc.

(In the past I have had bad experience in this area. I have waited too late in order to speak about finances. In the end I would spend way too much time, doing a great deal more work than expected and not getting paid near enough for the work I did. I feel this is a tough step, but needs to be brought up fairly early in the process.)

The design process
My first ideas or visions are not always the best ones...I have to hunt and look under every rock for answers. Just when you think you have the problem solved or have made the perfect product, something or someone comes along and throws a rock in the works so to speak, then you are back to square one.

Investigate/Brainstorming Solutions and development of Ideas
Sketch out ideas
Material-What is available and cost?
Function-What is the item for?
Appearance-What will it look like?
Construction-Can I make it or do I need other resources?

sketch out images or even make word lists to get my mind flowing for answers, names or words that are associated with the company or subject. I find sketching most helpful. I feel without it I am very limited as a designer. I can only explain so far in words and then I move to Paper to give people an idea of what I am talking about. People are visual and this helps a great deal

So, at this point I have a pretty clear image of what I am going for and am heading into designing the finished piece

Make it!
Be sure it is
A FINAL PIECE!! An important step is to show the client the FINAL PIECE
Have the final printers, material, appearance, etc. in place

Present to the client/ Show my work!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

A Rough Template for the Design Research Process

What is it with all this bags stuff anyway!!??...

I was at the campus store last week waiting in line to purchase my items. There was a young male student in front of me who insisted he have a plastic bag for his two small juice boxes. Really!!???

People are just set on the idea of having everything in something!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Field Trips

I had a conversation about reducing waste with a close friend today. I told her when I was young my school went on a field trip to the local landfill. I really understood the importance of reducing waste and recycling after that point.

She was amazed and told me the only fieldtrips she went on were to the zoo and NASA.

I think this is a field trip that every person should take, one to the local