DIE SLIDERSTRAW MISSION
The insatiable thirst of the free market economy for permanent growth has led in recent years to an immoderate orgy of consumption, which has led and will continue to lead to serious current problems such as climate change, resource scarcity and environmental pollution.
We have now reached a point where these problems are getting bigger and bigger, and their consequences are hard to ignore.
As a result, topics such as environmentally friendly design and production have recently become increasingly prominent in the media. Not least because of the popularity of the topic, more and more companies also seem to be jumping on this bandwagon and discovering a new love for the environment. As a result, products made from algae, bamboo, paper, palm leaves, apple scraps, etc., are on the rise. Companies are really outdoing each other with supposedly sustainable concepts and products, which they publish on all kinds of social media channels.
Infolgedessen befinden sich Produkte aus Algen, Bambus, Papier, Palmblättern, Apfelresten & Co auf dem Vormarsch. Die Unternehmen übertreffen sich förmlich mit vermeintlich nachhaltigen Konzepten und Produkten, die sie in allen möglichen Social-Media-Kanälen veröffentlichen.
So far, so good. If only these products actually solved our environmental problems and did not merely serve as window dressing in the form of "greenwashing" to reassure critical consumers, while at the same time continuing to drive hyperconsumption, i.e. consumption beyond the actual satisfaction of needs.
That's why we have made it our goal to develop products that are not only environmentally friendly in appearance, but also reduce the pressure on the environment in real terms and solve the problems of our time.
Is this even possible? Or should we rather do without and live like they used to in "the good old days"?
We prefer to believe in a modern future and in intelligent, ecological and economical solutions rather than doing without, and we focus on developing smart products that make our lives more beautiful and practical without harming the environment.
"Our five commandments"
1. No stereotyping and no stigmatisation - only the facts count
Drinking straws, shopping bags and dishes made of paper, toothbrushes made of wood or bamboo, lamps made of seaweed, and plates made of palm leaves give the appearance to the consumer of being environmentally friendly and are on the rise.
In short: plastics are the problem, and natural materials are our salvation – unfortunately, it's not quite as simple as it seems.
Because very few people know that, for example, a paper shopping bag or drinking straw has a far worse eco-balance than a plastic shopping bag or drinking straw.
"Paper does have the great advantage that it is less problematic than some other products that end up in the environment if disposed of incorrectly. However, paper per se is still far from being environmentally friendly precisely because it also leaves a pretty substantial environmental footprint as a result of its manufacturing process. In addition, more material is often required for an item made out of paper. In addition, paper production has a higher consumption of water and energy."1
It must also be taken into account that paper has to be moisture-resistant and tear-resistant for the kinds of inappropriate applications in which it is intended to replace plastic. This requires a large number of processing steps, such as chemical treatment, coating, etc. On the one hand, these aggressive treatments result in a catastrophic eco-balance and, on the other hand, mean that the paper does not dissolve during the recycling process, i.e. it cannot be recycled.
So there are actually many cases where a product is perceived as particularly environmentally friendly simply because it is made of paper, but in fact, this is not the case at all. The consumer, on the other hand, is led to believe otherwise and continues to consume unnecessary products with a clear conscience. A classic case of greenwashing. The result: unchecked consumption and the associated waste of resources.
An objective view of the facts and figures is always more sensible than unreflectively fulfilling presumed customer expectations. The use of renewable raw materials is not always the most appropriate and best solution. The natural reserves of many such materials are far from sufficient to meet our daily needs and must therefore be grown artificially in mass cultures and with massive use of pesticides and fertilizers, especially since this also entails environmental impacts such as soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and high land, water, and energy consumption. At the very least, we should ask whether these disadvantages are not greater than the advantages of natural origin and biodegradability.
2. Disposable products are simply not an option!
Replace disposable products with smart reusable products. This is generally true, regardless of the material used: disposable products are harmful to the environment, whether they are made of paper, bamboo or plastic.
3. Quality Instead of quantity
Pay attention to sustainability. The decisive factor is not the pure eco-balance, but the relationship between the eco-balance and the service life of a product. In this context, the functional and aesthetic longevity of products also plays a role that should not be underestimated. Furniture, crockery, watches or jewellery with a particularly striking or timeless design can thus be handed down over decades and, over time, become truly sustainable products – no matter what they are made out of.
4. Recyclegerechte Gestaltung
Recycle-friendly design: If components of a product are made of different materials, each of which must be recycled separately, but which are very difficult to separate for disposal, then the use of recyclable materials is of little use. Here, it is helpful to design the components in such a way that they can be easily separated.
5. Minimalism to the rescue
The design itself also influences the production effort. Doing away with anything superfluous, i.e. design elements that have no function but are simply fashionable and therefore unlikely to remain relevant for very long, leads not only to increased longevity. The design reduction is also accompanied by a reduction in production effort, which, in turn, reduces the ecological footprint of a product. In addition, if designers are well-versed in the different production methods and the associated energy and material requirements, and incorporate them into the design process, the same product can be manufactured in a much more efficient and environmentally friendly manner.
1) From the interview with Mr. Philipp Sommer, Deputy Head of the Circular Economy Division at Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Environmental Action Germany)
7x INTERNATIONAL AWARDS