Years ago Perdue Farms discovered that it could sell chicken feet in China. Because the feet were the part of the chicken that U.S. consumers did not eat, Perdue added to profits and diminished waste by selling what had been a worthless byproduct.
Less waste is where we are going today.
Zero Waste Design
After making a pot of coffee with my French Press today, I discarded the grounds. Multiply my waste by the (approximately) 2 billion cups of coffee that the world drinks everyday and you get a lot of grounds that go to landfills and clog up drains.
Concerned about those grounds, two entrepreneurs in Helsinki figured out how to combine them with recycled plastic to make sneakers. Their sneakers are waterproof and 65% coffee yarn. The shoes also won’t be smelly because coffee can be an odor killer.
Rens makes the coffee ground shoes:
We are buying more, wearing what we buy less, and then discarding it. New Hampshire Public Radio tells us that 90% of what we buy is thrown away or donated before we wear it out. They add that one third of the garments made are not even sold.
However, we are only one link among many that are wasteful.
The waste starts in the factory where denim, for example, could arrive as a 60 inch roll. Then, imagine how it needs to be cut. When you slice out the shapes you need for the pockets, lapels, and collars in jackets you create massive waste. Women’s dresses that curve in at the waist, yes, create waste.
One designer who teaches at Parsons in NYC is trying to solve the problem with a new kind of pattern. Think of a shirt. The goal is to minimize the waste by using every part of a rectangle of fabric.
Below you can see his waste minimizing pattern:
Our Bottom Line: Economic Efficiency
We could say that all goods and services are made from factor recipes composed of land, labor, and capital. Called the factors of production, land, labor, and capital include natural resources, people power, and tools and equipment. Economists believe that we optimize efficiency when those recipes minimize waste …
As they do with coffee ground sneakers.
Our featured image is from Pixabay. After publication, this post was slightly edited.