Monday, 5 December 2016

20. blog post ENG


Beauty of re-used rice bags and worn out Coke bottles

Dia is a young woman who is aware of cosequences of human activities on the environment and wellbeing. She lives a life of a student of History of arts in Brno. She came to our recent workshop on social innovation with three original backpacks handmade from rice bags, the outcome of her personal project, and with a question: How to make people more aware of the consequences of their actions and how to raise their interest in undertaking beneficial change? 

She has been making her personal contribution which has a potential to inspire people and stirr other contextual thinking. In her project she has given a life into her idea which has a great potential to be developed further into a social innovation: linking communities, giving them a purpose of reducing the hardship on the environment, even bringing them back to long forgotten practices of reasonable intake and waste management. It matters a lot to people. I got impressed by the evidence of that last week at a coffee chat: my friend was talking about her trip to Phillippines and with deep respect, she described how the locals living in the countryside treat empty Coke bottles. Imagine!, she said with eyes shining with admiration, every a week a poor man from a distant mountain village takes an old motorbike to transport a pile of empty Coke bottles to a collecting point. There he waits for even hours for a collector to hand away his burden and then travels back on gravel trails in the heats. It takes him almost half a day! Without probably knowing, these simple tiny always smiling Phillippines add a great value to the reused coke bottles – when drinking Coke, you can enjoy the beauty of worn out glass as ell as the warm feeling of being among true community carers.

1) What had to happen so that you made your first back pack?
First of all there was a present given to me by my parents. It appeared to be 10 kg of jasmine rice in such a cool package that the idea of its reuse came on its own. Its load capacity was sufficient and its size just the backpack-like. So I sat at a sewing machine at home and in a short while, a prototype was on.

2) What was the most difficult part of the realisation?
The toughest part was the initial period before I bought my own sewing machine. Till then I had to use my parent´s old one which wasn´t very reliable. All operations took me twice as long which was quite frustrating. Also the technical solution for the cut as well as sewing itself gave me hard time at the beginning. Making a backpack is considered simple, yet I had to learn not to get too upset while working out the ways to sew the material which is not fabric.

3) Which part of this experience do you value most?
I managed to make a functional product in a process which is actually the opposite to conventional production. It means a lot to me and I enjoy seeing my friends wearing my backpacks quite often and being satisfied with them. Thanks to this project I got the opportunity to hold my first public workshop on backpack making. I received plenty of wonderful feedback and found out that there were a lot of people out there who would love to learn making backpack from rice bags. I have also realised that I am capable to share my know-how with them in a few hours. A skillful workshop participant can after two hours leave with her own hand made back pack.

4) Who participates on the realisation?
My great friend Anička who is by far my most reliable supplier of rice bags. She always … some at the Asian market. I am the only backpack maker so far as I only offer the backpacks in the circle of my friends or to a number of individuls who spot my backpack on someone´s back and wish to have one as well.

5) In which way this product is innovative?
In the narrowest sense, innovation is in reusing a package, i.e. rice bag, which would either be thrown away or, in the best of cases, would be used for a little bit longer as a durable bag for whatever. If a more complex product is made of such a package, i.e. backpack, the life of the thing-to-be dumped is prolonged substantially. What is more – it is not necessary that a similarly functional product is produced on the other side of the planet and transported all way long to a distant place. We can simply use resources around us in an anti-consuming way.

6) In what way is you project beneficial?
I firmly believe that most of the key challenes humans have created on the Earth and which we are now facing, are rooted in vast overproduction and consumming. My initiative my just be a small part of the whole mosaic but I believe in synergy of all similar projects which exist – humans will gradually revise their actions and start behave more sustainably towards themselves as well as the environment.

7) How do you plan to develop this innovation?
In the near future, I am going to launch a simple web site displaying the actual backpacks for sale. Anyone interested will be able contact me. I would like to develop the workshops more which looks promising – in the spring there are going to be some more.

8) What would be your message to the people who would like to realise a beneficial idea?
It is quite difficult not to repeat a cliche. In simple words – just go for it! See ideas in contexts and inspire people!

Text Anna
Photo Polina

This blog is a part of the project Empowering Youth To Become Social Innovators, realised under the Erasmus+ partnership programme. The project is coordinated by a Czech NGO DYNAMA, z.s., seated in Brno and an Estonian NGO Youth Club Active, seated in Tallinn. This project contributes to the development of non formal learning of the youth.

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