less by design

Wonderbag – socially responsible cooking

By Lorrin Windahl.

Having lived in a mud hut in rural Uganda for almost a year, I understand the difficulties of cooking without power and with a limited, ‘dirty’ fuel source. I cooked on a ‘sigiri‘, a metal stove fuelled by charcoal and often ignited with the use of paraffin. Even though I chose to cook outside to reduce my intake of smoke, the fumes generated from this style of cooking were pretty intense and for some foods, such as beans, it would often take many hours to cook. It’s not surprising then that the World Health Organisation (WHO) attributes more than 4 million deaths each year to illness from indoor air pollution. Air pollution caused by cooking with solid fuels such as charcoal and fuelwood. In fact, my experience led me to redesign the ‘sigiri’ to ensure smoke was directed away from the user. However, another recent design also helps to decrease the amount of indoor air pollution caused by cooking. This product is called the WonderBag and is basically a power-free, portable slow cooker.

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No minor Morris infatuation

By Libby Christmas.

Designers aspire to produce products that will last. But in reality, we know that markets change and products are increasingly and rapidly superseded by newer and faster models. We therefore need to be mindful and plan for end of life, material consumption and design for disassembly. This expiry timeline applies to all products, including large ones like cars.

I recently decided to acquire some new skills and take on a challenge by reviving a 1961 Morris Minor. This car has a great design story and is a great example of early 1950’s styling. But it is 55 years old, has a bit of rust and a non-functioning engine that (if running, which it is not…) has less power than most current motorbikes. Not to be discouraged, the important thing is that it has the ‘potential’ to be revitalised into a product (skills allowing) that should live on for another 50-odd years. Many products of our era will have little chance of having a 10 year lifespan let alone 50, so the fact that this little car has endured for so long is an impressive feat already.

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VR app walks users in the shoes of people living with dementia

By Lorrin Windahl.

Virtual Reality (VR) has historically been associated with gaming and perceived as a tool for leisure. So it is great to see the technology being used to improve lives and not just embellish them. Such is the case with the recently launched app EDIE, which enables users to experience the impact of dementia from the point of view of the person living with it. It’s an important tool in increasing awareness of and empathy for people living with the heart wrenching disease.

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Leafing a smaller environmental footprint.

By Lorrin Windahl.

Eating off a leaf. It’s not a new idea. People from different cultures around the world have been doing it for years. But mass producing a leaf plate. Well, that is a different story entirely. Can it be done? Leaf Republic believes it can. Meet Leaf. The new biodegradable, eco-friendly disposable plate that is made entirely from leaves.

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Pinatex – an ethical leather alternative

By Lorrin Windahl.

Leather. Like it or not it results in the death of the animal. Some may argue that it is the by-product of the meat industry and therefore a kind of recycling of a waste product. But others are not so assured given it is often more profitable than the selling of the meat. For those of us who do have a guilty conscience when we dress in our expensive soft leather shoes, there may now be an alternative which is much less detrimental to the animal. Pinatex. A leather alternative derived from pineapple waste.

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Freitag – compostable clothing

By Josh Henry.

For many of us, our options when it comes to clothing disposal are fairly limited. Either drop it in the charity bin or send it to landfill. However with only 10% of donated clothes being used maybe it’s time for another option. What if we could compost our clothes? Freitag may have the answer.

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sleepbus – a mobile sanctuary for the homeless

By Lorrin Windahl.

According to Homeless Australia, 1 in 200 people are homeless each night in our land of sweeping plains. That’s a pretty staggering statistic. And it saddens me to think of anyone sleeping on the street during this bitterly cold winter. But Simon Rowe has an idea that may just help to provide some of these people with a warm and safe alternative. He has developed the sleepbus, a mobile shelter that can sleep up to 22 people. It can even provide a place of rest for their furry friends too.
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