(PROJECT) Reducing the amount of plastic water bottles with Air RahMat

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Indonesia is a rapidly developing nation that has a colourful and diverse history. Political instability and the clash of traditional and contemporary culture in the last century have brought with it complex social and environmental issues. Upon arriving in Indonesia we began to notice two separate problems regarding drinking water and waste management.

As a result of industrialization, water from the tap has become contaminated and is not safe to consume, even for locals; everyone must either boil or purchase and consume filtered/bottled water. After witnessing an appalling amount of waste in waterways and on the streets we started to see a correlation between the staggering amount of plastic bottled water being produced by large corporations and the amount of waste, which wasn’t being disposed of properly. We engaged in dialogue with local artists, designers, business owners and students who shared their concern about corporations who had monopolized on commodifying a fundamental human resource and a lack of education about waste management.

Our secondary research led us to discover these alarming statistics:

  • Indonesia is the 2nd largest consumer of bottled water in Asia.
  • As well as being the 2nd largest marine polluter in the world.
  • 100 million of Indonesia’s 249 million people, lack access to safe drinking water.
  • Approximate 64 million tons of waste is produced per year, which is mostly dumped into landfill and waterways (2015).

Asking how we can reduce the amount of bottled water consumed within Indonesia is a wicked problem influenced by many political, industrial, cultural and social factors. Our research directed our focus to the consumer (general public) who heavily influences social dynamics and habits.

Stakeholders involved

Danone (Aqua) was the first company to bottle water in Indonesia and over the last 40 odd years it has become a deeply engrained habit for Indonesians to buy Aqua brand bottled water. This has lead to a subconscious consumer belief that water is only clean if it comes from a sealed plastic container. On social media platforms Aqua uses high quality photos of “everyday” people and inviting mealtime settings to market itself as a company that understands and cares about quality of life. This type of imagery reinforces to consumers that it is acceptable to continue to use plastic water bottles in excess.

social mediasocial 2

When we began looking for ways to reduce the use of bottled water we decided to research existing water filtering solutions available to consumers worldwide. Air RahMat is a solution developed specifically for Indonesia by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). By adding a few drops of the sodium hypochlorite solution to water it becomes safe to drink within 30 minutes. Unfortunately due to poor marketing and education Air RahMat never infiltrated everyday households. Asking around, no locals in Central Java knew of its existence.

What is air rahmat

Taking it upon ourselves, we attempted to rebrand Air RahMat to appeal to the Indonesian public, encourage critical thinking about water sources, wastage and change consumer habits. As part of the rebrand Air RahMat’s visual identity, instruction manual and bottle were overhauled to compete with the likes of large corporations such as Aqua. The use of visual motifs such as water drops, icons, a water inspired colour palette, children playing and batik patterns ensure that Indonesian’s from varying backgrounds find Air RahMat appealing and understand why it is a culturally important product.

air rahmat new packagingair rahmat brochureair rahmat brochure 2workshop posterAir rahmat standA strategy to reintroduce Air RahMat to the people was also devised. The platform of local markets such as Pasar Papring held in Kelingan would be a suitable place to set up an education and demonstration stall. Locals would be able to take samples, participate in demonstrations and learning sessions in a welcoming environment that provides communal empowerment and support. Village members would economically benefit from using Air RahMat rather than boiling or purchasing water whilst also reducing the amount of plastic waste as a by-product of consumption.

Looking towards the future Air RahMat has the potential to explore mobile and wearable technology allowing it to become more accessible and appealing for contemporary Indonesia.

By Rommany O’Sullivan, Clarence Villanueva, Samson Ossedryver and Adela Yang

 Reference List:

 Notes from discussion with Singgih Kartono

Notes and images from tour of water springs in Central Java

Notes from interview with local student Diane

Amheka, A. 2015, An overview of current household waste management in Indonesia: development of a new integrated strategy, International Journal of Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 15, No. 1.

John Hopkins Centre for Disease Control, 2007, Air RahMat – FAQ, Aman Tirta, John Hopkins Centre for Disease Control, viewed 23 February 2016, < http://ccp.jhu.edu/documents/Air%20Rahmat%20FAQ.pdf >.

Jong, H. 2015, Indonesia in state of waste emergency, Jakarta Post, Jakarta, viewed 20 February 2016, < http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/10/09/indonesia-state-waste-emergency.html#sthash.RSdDUWou.dpuf >.

United States Embassy, 2007, United States Helps Bring Clean Water to Indonesian Families, United States Embassy viewed 23 February 2016, < http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/article/2007/01/20070111082114akllennoccm0.3963129.html#axzz45QSqmt4s >.

Von Hasseln, C. 2015, From The Textile Design Lab: Chelsea’s Challenge – “Tidal Beachcomber” Collections, Pattern Observer, viewed 24 February 2016, < http://patternobserver.com/2015/12/22/from-the-textile-design-lab-chelseas-challenge-tidal-beachcomber-collections/ >.

*All images/graphics are original. Contributed by the group members listed above*







air, and land are all now polluted. In Indonesia, there are a lot of environmental issue. One of the issue that have been one of biggest issue in Indonesia is waste management that is now mounting as growing household consumption and the rising business activity and create a higher volume of food waste, plastic and industrial byproducts. In order to solve the problem, Indonesian government has tried to stricken waste management and recycling regulation. In addition to help solving the waste. A collective of creative people has grouped up and brainstorm around the idea of helping the environment to get better. Upcycling is their solution. In stead of recycling by burn and melt those waste into different product, Upcycling is even better solution by make those waste for different uses.

Sapu is what they called themselves. Sapu is based in Salatiga which is a town at the foot of the volcano Mount Merbabu, and formed of designers, sewers, recyclists, artists, musicians, scientists and writers whose are originated from Central Java and Australia. Initially, Sapu was just a group of few members and involved with local Indonesian NGO named Komunitas TUK—Tanam Untuk Kehidupan. They collect recycle material from waste, other used objects, unused pieces found in households or work spaces, such as inner tire tubes, plastic drink bottles, old magazines, and etc. to create beautiful, useful and stylish products and art. Those products include bracelets, necklaces, wallets, bags, t-shirt and other jewelry and they believe that “recycling makes the world a better place!”. They aim to give those trashes a second life.

In the process of creating the products, they first start off collecting those inner tire tubes that are thrown away and then get it cleaned and treated. After that I cut in into a shaped that is measured into size that fit a certain type of design, such as wallet, bag or a bracelet. It then got design into a very unique style to suit the use of the product itself. In term of profits, Sapu always gives their 10% of their turnover to TUK to help with environmental issue. 

I feel like Sapu is really great community which can help their art and craft of Indonesian culture. Doing upcycling is really helping environment a lot with the waste that cannot be disposed. By making it for another use and give it second life, earth will be a better place.


A Fair Effort, available at <http://www.viaviajogja.com/images2/pdf/brochure_fair_trade.pdf&gt;.

Global Business Guide Indonesia 2014, Sweeping Opportunities in Indonesia’s Waste Management Industry, available at <http://www.gbgindonesia.com/en/main/business_updates/2014/upd_sweeping_opportunities_in_indonesia_s_waste_management_industry.php&gt;.

Sapu 2016, available at <http://sapustore.net/en/about-sapu/&gt;.

Project – The Gamechanger Campaign

The rapid increase in the quantity of municipal solid waste in alignment with a growing population rate in Indonesia has spawned impending challenges to the management of waste in areas such as Salatiga in Central Java, for which is our geographical focus. Currently in Salatiga through a number of methodological approaches, we have identified waste disposal as a significant problem whereby water bottles, plastic packaging and human wastage such as diapers are commonly disposed of into surrounding environments and waterways, and/or frequently burned. A solution to this problem is essential, as the issue has become a concerning environmental and health hazard within the community.

Rubbish in waterways at Senjoyo, Indonesia. Photograph: Nadia Al-Munir

Our aim is to develop and implement a sustainable, enduring and permanent solution to assist in minimising resistant attitudes to behavioural change when it comes to recycling non-biodegradable wastes.

For research purposes we have, with consent, hypothetically associated ourselves with the organisation Tanam Untuk Kehidupan (TUK), an environmentally concerned artist community in Salatiga. TUK’s most recognisable environmental effort is witnessed through their annual art festival by the name of Festival Mata Air (Festival of Water).

Festival Mata Air 2016 at Muncul, Indonesia. Photograph: Nadia Al-Munir

Participating in FMA 2016 has led us to witness firsthand the established international platform for collaboration and exchange between a variety of art communities, environmentalists and local residents, with Festival Mata Air increasingly recognised as a significant community-based environmental awareness campaign.

Briefly, there are many requirements with which this project needs to be evaluated against in order to design the most appropriate solution for waste management in Salatiga. These include the cost, sustainability, environmental impact and cultural appropriateness of the method.

FMA Timeline1.jpg
Festival Mata Air Timeline. Illustration: Ji Young Bang

In determining our design solution, we have proposed a permanent extension of Festival Mata Air, whereby the key components of the festival are translated into a permanent visual and interactive campaign. This will ensure the longevity of the environmental messages being portrayed at FMA, and keep environmental awareness at the forefront of the residents of Salatiga.

Proposed mural at Festival Mata Air sites. Illustration: Katherine Cranfield

The visual design of a mural to be located at the Senjoyo, Kalimatan and Muncul sites has been done with children as the target to encourage rubbish disposal and a basic understanding of environmental principals when it comes to correct rubbish disposal and minimising environmental harm.  It is simple and to the point, using icons and images that are universal.

The first interactive component of the TUK campaign is an installation in the form of a modified basketball hoop situated on top of a bin. Basketball has been observed as a popular Indonesian past time, and therefore something that is culturally engaging and appropriate to the youth community.  The second interactive component to the TUK campaign is also centered around engagement with a bin, through again the universal game of hopscotch. Similarly, with the hopscotch design, the novelty behind it engages the youth, of a variety of ages and genders, to engage with the motion of putting rubbish in the bin through ending the game at the foot of the bin, with the outline stenciled in front of the bin.

When introducing this campaign as a means of improving behavioural approaches to methods of waste management and water sanitation to the people of Salatiga, education is a vital component when dealing with the implementation process. There are no strict guidelines or procedures which outline what has to be completed in the waste management process. During our research phase, children have been proven as the easiest generational sector to educate as they are likely more willing to learn new things and participate.

Children targeted as the main users of The Gamechanger Campaign at Senjoyo, Indonesia. Photograph: Emma Chegwyn

The concept of a throw away culture has been referenced in literature as being ‘incompatible with sustainability’, with an expanded definition of sustainability researched to be defined and also as being concerned with society’s ‘relationship with ourselves, our communities and our institutions’. This is where the TUK campaign situates itself, embracing the notion of collective change through recognising that behaviours and attitudes to water conservation and waste disposal need to be altered.

Group Rambutan – Nadia Al-Munir, Ji Young Bang, Emma Chegwyn, Katherine Cranfield

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(POST B) Milkwood is providing real skills for down to earth living

Students working on a market gardening course. Photo: Milkwood’s Instagram

Milkwood is a small, independent environmental design collective based in NSW. Run by Nick Ritar and his partner Kristen Bradley, they hold year round short courses, seminars and workshops on permaculture design and organic sustainable living. Nick and Kristen run an interdisciplinary collective; drawing on the expertise of local designers, artists, farmers, beekeepers, fermenters, market gardeners and teachers to share their knowledge and promote the principles of permaculture. Milkwood’s philosophy is about working with the natural environment rather than going against it.

Permaculture was brought to life in 1978 by Australian’s Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Permaculture is about design. It integrates structures, plants and animals with the needs of humans (Warm Earth 2011.) Holmgren shares that permaculture is about creating designed landscapes that respect and mimic the eb and flow of nature, providing an abundant source of food and energy for self-sustainable living. The fundamental ethics of permaculture are earth care, people care and surplus share. These principles involve conservation and restoration of biodiversity, making sure basic human needs are met and sharing of time, knowledge and resources (Warm Earth 2011).

Kristen at home in Kiama working in her garden. Photo: Emma Bowen
Nick cultivating mushrooms in his spare time. Photo: Daniel Shipp

With a large focus on farming and food, permaculture is now being looked at as a solution to sustainable food production. What we overlook is that the “commodified food” which we consume, more often than not links back to unsustainable practices and organisations. As a collective Milkwood believes that knowledge is power; informed people can make conscious choices about what they put their money into. Currently the global mass consumption and production of food is becoming increasingly detrimental to the natural environment. There’s pollution, destruction of ecosystems, excessive wastage, use of damaging chemicals and pesticides, unjust animal living conditions and the list goes on. With a rapidly growing global population of consumers all demanding more we are quickly running ourselves into the ground. Nick articulates in his philosophy that there is “no disconnection between us and the natural systems we utilize and engage with. It’s the pretend separation from nature that allows us to get away with all kinds of horrific things”. The key towards moving to a self-sustainable way of living is swapping convenience culture for conscious ethical thinking.

Nick says “Permaculture is a design framework to enable whole systems thinking”. It is a mixture of scientific and design methodology and planning (a deep understanding of contexts) with simple and function physical manifestations. With this in mind Milkwood’s diverse education program covers topics such as: organic gardening, fermenting, beekeeping, mushroom cultivation, natural fabric dying, Small space farming and orcharding, natural building and permaculture design certificates.­ Their courses are run in their collaborative space at 107 Projects in Redfern as well as on agricultural land in the rural regions surrounding Sydney. The skills people learn can be taken home with them and applied to their own communities and living spaces no matter the size and location.

A student’s plan for creating a communal permaculture garden as part of a short course. Photo: Milkwood’s Instagram

Nick and Kristen are thrilled that their permaculture experiment which started nine years ago on a farm in Mudgee, has now manifested into something holistic which they can pass on to others. “We can create beautiful, resilient, inter-sufficient communities where life is good, and the future is bright. Education is a huge part of that, and that’s what we’re personally involved in.”

Website: www.milkwood.net

Instagram: milkwood_permaculture

Reference List:

 Bowen, E. 2015, Interview: Milkwood, The Slowpoke, viewed April 8 2016, < https://web.archive.org/web/20160220091938/http://theslowpoke.com/interview-milkwood/ >.

Milkwood, 2016, Milkwood, viewed 8 April 2016, < https://www.milkwood.net >.

Reid, G. 2014, The Dirt: Nick Ritar, The Plant Hunter, viewed 8 April 2016, < http://theplanthunter.com.au/people/dirt-nick-ritar/ >.

Warm Earth, 2011, What is permaculture?, Warm Earth, No. 99. Pp 42-43.

*All images have been credited and linked to their original source*

Post B – Waste Not, Want Not

The small Japanese town of Kamikatsu, has received inclusive acknowledgement for their extensive recycling effort and commitment to reaching ‘Zero Waste’ status by 2020. From a town where open burning and dumping on farms and mountains, were the most common systems of waste management, now only 20 percent of their waste reaches landfills, while the other 80 percent is responsibly recycled (Eppenbach, 2016).

Zero Waste is the vision to build a society that enjoys a sustainable rubbish-free lifestyle, with no need for incineration or landfill (Sakano, 2015). The ‘Zero Waste’ policy was first developed in 2003 as an interdisciplinary initiative, whereby Kamikatsu exchanged its infamous practice of incineration for a much more environmentally aware sanitation program, in fear of endangering the future of both the environment and the population. Similar to Hino City, a suburb in Tokyo, that implemented a ‘No Waste’ campaign in 2000 to challenge an area with one of the worst recycling rates in Japan (Hill, 2011).

“We are trying to focus more and totally change our lifestyles,” says Akira Sakano, co-founder of the Zero Waste Academy, a non-profit organisation that was established in 2005, as a monitor towards Kamikatsu’s sustainability goals. The Academy also hosts an “Experience ‘Kamikatsu’ Programme” where each year, around 2500 local and foreign visitors are educated on the principles of living a ‘Zero Waste’ lifestyle.

Sonae Fujii of the Zero Waste Academy in Kamikatsu stands next to containers filled with waste ready for recycling at the Hibigaya Waste Station. Photograph: Robert Gilhooly

Recycling is now a streamlined process, which the community of 1700, meticulously wash and sort their recyclables into 34 separate categories. A report by The Christian Science Monitor, has likened the town’s waste to an “outdoor filing cabinet”, being the largest of its kind, internationally. What might already seem like a time-consuming and tedious task, the residents also have to transport it to the recycling centre themselves where workers make sure that the waste goes into the correct bins.

A resident divides up her bottles into clear, brown and other coloured bottles at the waste disposal site. Photograph: Robert Gilhooly

Like recycling, reuse is also highly encouraged in Kamikatsu. There is a shop known as a “circular” or a “kuru-kuru” where residents can trade used items for new ones, at no extra costs. And a factory, where unwanted items are repurposed into bags and clothes.

“If you get used to it, it becomes normal,” a Kamikatsu resident said in a YouTube documentary made by Seeker Stories, “It can be a pain, and at first we were opposed to the idea. Now I don’t think about it. It’s become natural to separate the trash correctly.”

Similar to Kamikatsu, cities around the world are also on their way to accomplishing ‘Zero Waste’ eminence. For example, San Diego recently proclaimed to reduce 75 percent of its waste by 2030 and become completely waste-free  by 2040 (Environmental Services Department, 2015).

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In 1986, New York academic Langdon Winner quoted that, ‘what matters not is technology itself, but the social or economic system in which it is embedded’. For in understanding and conceding that technology can provoke, challenge and necessitate a better quality of life, it can also contribute to a ‘persistent and troubling presence’ (Winner, 1986). We have the capacity to explore and experiment with, the recurrent emergence of innovative technologies, extending and adjudging their success and failure in experimental and unprecedented contexts; in doing so, we can begin to ‘consciously take responsibility for the Earth’s system, acknowledging that nature is not just what created us, it is also something we create, and that we can help sustain’ (Harris, 2012).

And in 2016, we can observe conscious environmental and sustainable responsibility being integrated with fervor in a multitude of domains, equally exaggerated and subtly understated. From urban planning and city living, to the agricultural field and architectural design, there has been a shift in the way emerging technologies are interposed.

grGreenhost’s inner courtyard.

Yogyakarta’s Greenhost Boutique Hotel in Indonesia is one such example, with the hotel and architectural industries by large being significant undertakers and integrators of environmental redesigns. In an interview conducted face to face in February 2016 with hotel manager Albert Yonas Kusuma (2016, pers.comm., 26th February)  I was able to discern how the Greenhost group have designed a ‘responsible hotel that meets Greenhost’s obligation to minimise its ecological impact towards the environment’ (A.Y.Kusuma, 2016, pers.comm., 26th February). Kusuma’s expression is a purposive one, that reflects on the notion that ‘the human population can resonate and identify within themselves on how they are the major natural force shaping planetary development’ (Harris, 2012). Furthering the discussion, Kusuma (2016, pers.comm., 26th February)   elaborated on the holistic nature of the hotel. Materials are sourced second hand and up-cycled, the hotel kitchen sells surplus crops to other retailers and restaurants, details were given regarding the frugality of the hotel in reference to its energy usage, and there is the development of Greenhost’s own Social Corporate Value program, which empowers the local Yogya community through the transference of knowledge on city farming, ‘supplying them with the information they need to become more independent’ (A.Y.Kusuma, 2016, pers.comm., 26th February).

That Greenhost is focusing on the communal education of city farming and reducing food waste is important. For ‘as much as half of all food grown is lost or wasted before and after it reaches the consumer’ (Lundqvist et al, 2008), with this set to increase due to the proliferation of individuals living in high density, urban environments. Statistics forecast this to reach 70% of the world’s population by the year 2050 (United Nations, 2008), and with this rapid onset urban inhabitation comes the escalating concern for ‘avoiding food waste in all parts of the food chain…which is crucial for the food security agenda’ (Global Food Security, 2012).


hydroGreenhost’s hydroponics on its rooftop garden farm.

The increasing social awareness with which the importance of self-reliance and self- sufficiency in food production is realized, is an appreciation that Greenhost has considered in its structural, aesthetic and holistic integrity, with the most visual example being the hydroponic set-up running through the inner courtyard, for which pickings are harvested and taken straight to the restaurant. A follow up interview with Kusuma led to additional information being shed on Greenhost’s architect and designer, Paulus Mintarga, who interestingly is also a co-owner of the hotel. Mintarga’s body of work is increasingly peppered with sustainable projects, however he is quoted as saying that he ‘does not want to by trapped by the concept of eco-sustainability’ (Galatio, 2014), elaborating that he perceives Indonesians to now hold ‘a forced awareness’ (Galatio, 2014) on the subject. In summation however, Mintarga’s integration of environmental technologies such as the hydroponic scheme and turning it into a core part of the hotel’s framework, is a clear example of the changing composition of global food distribution (and further the changing realm of architecture), whereby it becomes increasingly localised and a reflection of small social movements that align themselves with the justification and rationale that ‘humanity and the environment can learn to live in harmony’ (Harris, 2012).

Thus we come full circle, returning to Winner’s (1986) quote that ‘what matters not is technology itself, but the social or economic system in which it is embedded’.


ghView from the top. Looking down from the rooftop garden.


Galatio, M. 2014. Holistic Design with Paulus Mintargus. Whiteboard Journal. Viewed 08/04/2016, available at: http://www.whiteboardjournal.com/interview/15867/holistic-design-with-paulus-mintarga/

Global Food Security. 2012, The smart way to reduce food waste, United Kingdom, viewed 25th October 2015 <http://www.foodsecurity.ac.uk/research/impact/reduce-food-waste.html>

 Harris, S. 2012, Pushing the Boundaries: The Earth System in the Anthropocene, The Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems, Bristol, United Kingdom

 Ihde, Don 1993, ‘Technology,’ Philosophy of Technology: An introduction, New York: Paragon House, pp.47-64

Lundqvist  J.de Fraiture  C.Molden  D, 2008, Saving water: from field to fork—curbing losses and wastage in the food chain, SIWI Policy Brief, Stockholm, Sweden

United Nations2008,World Urbanization ProspectsThe 2007 Revision Population Database, viewed 25/08/2015, available at :<http://esa.un.org/unup/>

Winner, L. 1986, “Do Artifacts have Politics?” in The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, pp. 19-39.

* All photographs used in this blog post are the author’s own.

Post B: Post Consumer waste amongst the Fashion Industry

Undeniably I fit the typical consumer profile of the Fashion Industry, as I far too frequently indulge my passion. As clothes and fashion are something that I am passionate about, I decided to research the impacts of my consumerism in an effort to reduce my ecological footprint. Whilst I was convinced that I was being environmentally conscious by donating my clothes to charity and shopping at Op shops by buying pre-loved goods, through further research I discovered these choices are not of themselves enough to avert or even minimise environmental repercussions. It is an amalgamation of initiatives that need to be implemented consciously by corporations and individuals involved the fashion industry. Ironically, owing to the insatiable demand for fashion buying second hand clothes these days may become obsolete, due to falling prices of new clothing making new clothes almost as cheap (Claudio, 2007). This would ensure that we fall into the trap of keeping clothes in our wardrobe, suspecting we will have no reward and that ultimately leads to landfill.

Although I was generally aware of the detriment to the environment of landfill, it shocked me to find out that Nylon and Polyester were not biodegradable (greenchoices.org). The production of polyester has doubled within the last fifteen years but it is the production of these fabrics, which is most alarming. (Claudio, 2007). They are not only energy intensive but are comprised largely of crude oils, which in turn release harmful emissions such as volatile organic compounds and hydrogen chloride all harmful to health. (Claudio, 2007). Whilst landfill may be an important issue when it comes to dumping clothes, the issue of water sustainability arises during production. And then there is cotton- popular in the fashion industry due to its flexibility. Cotton is one of the most water dependent crops in the world. In addition cotton crops in the US, are responsible for a quarter of all pesticides used. The USDA states that the USA is one of the biggest exporters of cotton worldwide. (Claudio, 2007). So the environmental fallout occurs at each stage of production. Production of cotton is dominant  (due to US subsidies) and the prices are low in comparison. Accordingly cotton is exported to nations like China with low labour costs. The economic impact of low prices is what forces the fashion industry to globalise without much thought and allows the proliferation of cheap clothing in consumers’ wardrobes eventually ending up as landfill. 

In our era, the younger demographic is more conscious of the waste produced in the fashion industry and is creating a goal towards a more sustainable future (Bosica, 2014). The shocking statistics are that in the US in 2012, 14 million tons of textile waste was generated with only 16 percent being recycled. (Bosica, 2014).

H&M is a global fashion label with over 3,500 stores in 55 countries (H&M, Sustainability report, 2014). Whilst it is a consumer funded initiative H&M aims to cover sustainability not only in recycling clothing, but promoting fair wages and a holistic approach to the production of clothing. “Our vision is that all our operations are run in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.” (Helmerson, H&M). As the initiative is mainly produced within the company H&M aims to partner with stakeholders, suppliers and NGOS. Within the company they have 170 colleagues working purely on sustainability for the company. Their holistic approach is a seven-step program, which includes a change the mindset and encourage fashion conscious consumers, to be “climate smart” and to ensure working conditions for those on the production side are fair. 

Currently the most important H&M initiative is “Closing the Loop”. This encourages H&M shoppers to recycle their clothing. Through their advertisements and in-store recycling program collecting garments their collection has risen dramatically from 2013, to 2014. 

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.11.32 pm.png

(H&M Conscious Actions Sustainability Report, 2014)Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.32.30 pm.png

(H&M Conscious Actions Sustainability Report, 2014)

Advertising is a key approach in achieving these figures. A year ago H&M launched an educational cartoon style video outlining their plan (see below). It embraces diversity and recycling.

(H&M Closing the Loop, 2014)

(H&M Closing the Loop, 2015)

The most recent video above features diversity through gender and multicultural models in order to represent fashion and overturn stereotypes. The premise of the video is that “there are no rules in fashion” as it narrates to the viewer examples of fashion sins. The powerful ending in the advertisement declares that the only rule in fashion is to recycle. These methods of advertisement are fashionable and engaging, targeted at H&M’s diverse audience around the world. This initiative both challenges existing fashion clichés and introduces a new recycling concept to their target market. Such initiatives can only ensure that the recycling ethos becomes embedded in consumer consciousness and ultimately reduces the environmental footprint of the clothing industry and its by products.


Green Choices2016, [Homepage of Green Choices], [Online]. 
Available: http://www.greenchoices.org/green-living/clothes/environmental-impacts [2016, March 28].

H&M Conscious Actions Sustainability Report 2014       2014, , H&M.

Garmet Collecting [Homepage of H&M], [Online]. 
Available: http://about.hm.com/en/About/sustainability/commitments/reduce-waste/garment-collecting.html [2015, 28 March].

H&M on Closing the Loop [Homepage of H&M], [Online]. 
Available: http://about.hm.com/en/About/sustainability/resources/videos/hm-on-closing-the-loop.html [2016, 28 March].

Bosica, T. 2014, "Human Ecology", vol. Spring 2014, pp. 10.

Claudio, L. 2007, "Waste Couture - Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry", Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 115, no. 9.

Packham, A. 2015, 15th of September-last update, H&M's Latest Fashion Campaign 'Close The Loop' Features A Brilliantly Diverse Array Of Models 
[Homepage of The Huffington Post], [Online]. 
Available: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/09/15/hm-close-the-loop-clothes-campaign-diversity-models_n_8139284.html [2016, 28 March].

Sowray, B. 2015, , H&M launches 'Close the Loop', a collection made using your recycled clothes. 
Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/brands/hm-closes-the-loop-with-collection-made-from-recycled-garments/ [2016, 28 March].


Waste Less, Recycle More [POST B]

An adverse by-product of today’s urban and all-consuming lifestyle, solid waste presents pressing environmental consequences as we plan for the future, with the global generation of solid waste set to increase 70% by 2050, exceeding more than 6 million tonnes of waste per day (Bhada-Tata and Hoornweg, 2012).

World wide, cities are embracing tactics that target waste reduction (Masaru, 2013),  with considerable disparities in societal attitudes, behaviors and strategies towards rubbish disposable evident amongst developed and developing nations.  Geographically and politically relevant, NSW government initiative Waste Less, Recycle More (WLRM), was designed in 2013 in direct response to the immediacy and severity of issues concerned with post consumer waste in a multitude of areas, and the challenges they engender in designing for the future.

Waste less, recycle more: a 5-year $465.7 million Waste and ResoEPA, 2015.

Specifically, WLRM is a $465.7 million package that is government funded with the intent to transform waste and recycling in NSW from 2013 to 2018 (EPA, 2015).   This transformation has been orchestrated and plans to be continued to be orchestrated through the individual funding of a collective of separate ‘children’ programs, all of which fall under the WLRM scheme.  These are programs such as Love Food Hate Waste, Resource Recovery Facility Expansion and Enhancement, and Improved Systems for Household Problem Wastes.  Furthermore, WLRM has in place an education strategy designed to support the key cause (reducing waste) and the ensuing programs it oversees, a strategy whose aim and vision is to ‘optimize the use and quality of education in all WLMR programs so that they promote positive behaviour change….and improvement in the environment and community wellbeing’ (EPA, 2015).

The effectiveness of the WLRM initiative is up for debate.  It is a tiered initiative,  and  its ultimate success is exceedingly dependent on the continued support of the NSW and federal government budgets and their overseers.  The Institute for Public Policy Research (a leading UK think tank), is against such tight government control over waste management, recognising and acknowledging that government foundations are key but that social enterprise policies can be considerably more effective and engaging, further summarizing that ‘our approach to resources [and by extension the wastage they generate] should be circular’ (Rowney, 2014).  By this, biological resources, such as foods, should be reused to their full extent before being returned to the Earth’s ecosystem, and non-biological resources such as metals, should be continually reused and recycled (Rowney, 2014).

Großer Stapel alter PET-Flaschen Large stack of old plastic botPlastic Waste. (Von Euen, 2013).

Many businesses worldwide are expanding on their own versions of circular reuse. H&M offers discounts in exchange for old clothes, which are then resourced for their materials, or directly outsourced to countries and situations where clothing is needed (Chegwyn, 2014). Supermarket chains are doing their part to redefine the way consumers approach food and avoid the potential for wastage to occur through such campaigns as Australia’s The Odd Bunch (Woolworths, 2016) and France’s Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables (Intermarche, 2015),  which both sell cheaper, non-calibrated and imperfect fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be thrown away.

foodwasteFood waste, primarily from grocery stores and food processors. (Sullivan, 2012).

It is not just household businesses redefining and challenging perceptions of waste. In Cateura, Paraguay, a youth orchestra plays with instruments manufactured entirely from waste materials sourced from the rubbish landfill from around which the community has built and developed basic living infrastructure, for ‘garbage is not garbage. If you have creative ideas you can do anything with it’ (CBN, 2015).

ORCHESTRAManufacturing.  (CBN, 2015).

The WLRM initiative is well supported, well documented and to date has been well received.  Its overarching success however, has yet to be concluded, and full judgement  and analysis of data can only be ascertained at the conclusion of the 5 year implementation.  It is refreshing however, to bear witness to alternative waste management schemes both large and small, with funding and a lack there of,  that unanimously agree on the detrimental effects that human waste disposal has on the multiplex layers of society and the environment, and that action is needed.  Not tomorrow, not today, but yesterday.  


Bhada-Tata, P. Hoornweg, D. 2012. What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management. The World Bank.  Accessed 25/03/2016. Available at: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTURBANDEVELOPMENT/Resources/336387-1334852610766/What_a_Waste2012_Final.pdf

CBN News.  2015.  ‘Recycled Orchestra’ Turns Trash into Music. CBN News Corporation. Accessed 26/03/2016.  Available at: http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2015/April/Recycled-Orchestra-Turns-Trash-in-Music

Chegwyn, Emma. 2014. A Fashion Paradox. Thesis major work.  University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

Environment Protection Authority (EPA). 2015. Waste Less Recycle More Initiative. NSW EPA. Accessed 25/03/2016.  Available at: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/wastestrategy/waste-less-recycle-more.htm

Intermarche. 2015. Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables. Intermarche. Accessed 26/03/2016. Available at: http://itm.marcelww.com/inglorious/

Masaru, G. 2013. Global Waste on Pace to Triple by 2100.  The World Bank. Accessed  25/03/2016. Available at: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/10/30/global-waste-on-pace-to-triple

Rowney, M. 2014. The wasteline: Redefining ‘waste’ and improving resource management policy.The Institute for Public Policy Research.  Accessed 25/03/2016. Available at: http://www.ippr.org/read/the-wasteline-redefining-waste-and-improving-resource-management-policy#


Sullivan, D. 2012. New Jersey Composter Taps Food Waste Opportunities. Bio Cycle: The organics recycling authority. Accessed 26/03/2016. Available at: https://www.biocycle.net/2012/02/27/new-jersey-composter-taps-food-waste-opportunities/

Von Euen, N. 2013. Plastic Waste. Global Waste. Accessed 26/03/2016. Available at: http://www.global-waste.de/plastic.html

Woolworths.  2016. The Odd Bunch.  Woolworths, Australia.  Accessed 25/03/2016. Available at: https://www.woolworths.com.au/Shop/Discover/our-brands/the-odd-bunch



(POST A) Design Contexts: Urban and Rural

Design doesn’t exist in isolation. The context of a particular space influences its designed outcomes, just as the designed outcome has the power to alter contexts and even cultures (Cooper 1999.). This complex relationship means that design has differing definitions for the diverse groups of people in society.

A large part of design that we are exposed to, create and participate in is geared towards the context of westernized, urban areas and dense population. This comes as no great surprise when 89% of Australia’s population lives in urban areas (World Bank, 2015.). The effects of urbanization and globalization have imposed this westernized approach to design upon developing nations such as Indonesia. In 1991 only 32% of the Indonesian population lived in urban areas, jump forward 25 years to 2015 and that has risen to 53.3% thanks to rapid population growth, the development of infrastructure and a growing economy.

A suburb of Yogyakarta city.

The context of the city advocates a successful, fast paced lifestyle; through carefully designed products and services its inhabitants come to expect variety, convenience, efficiency and instant connectivity. It often seems that less emphasis is placed on a design’s longevity or afterlife. This has led to design outcomes such as: single use products (e.g. plastic bottled water), self-service, convenience stores and personal electronic devices.

Indomart, the most popular chain of convenience store in central Java.

Designed objects/services in urban spaces can have less consideration for the nuances of their context, giving them more power to change cultures and even create new ones (e.g. the rise of the internet and social media) because they are consumed en mass by a large demographic in close proximity. It is interesting to observe how different design ideologies clash and meld into the local culture.

A street art mural in Geneng exploring the struggling relationship between traditional and contemporary Indonesia.

If we shift our focus to one of Indonesia’s 79,075 villages (Badan Pusat Statistik, 2012.) it is clear that here design works in a different way. The rural village is a context, which continues to nurture Indonesian culture due to its geographical isolation and its members practicing traditional rituals, beliefs and skills. The Indonesian education system often doesn’t encourage critical thinking; Singgih Kartono an Indonesian product designer suggests that as a result of this most people see their daily work in the village (e.g. preparing meals or crafting items) as a necessary means to get by rather than viewing them as designerly activities. This humble outlook leads to a functional approach of problem solving with an emphasis on self-sustainability.

A rural farmer preparing rice fields for planting.

In a village there is a habitually participatory approach to making and communicating; the user becomes a critical component of the process (Sanders, 1999.) For example alone, a basket weaver can make and sell baskets at a market, however they can also teach others how to create a basket for themselves. By sharing knowledge, the design becomes open source and people are able to customize a basket for their personal needs. This collaborative approach is also made possible by members of the village having equal access to cheap, sustainable and local materials such as bamboo.

A member of Kelingan village teaching university students how to weave a bamboo basket.

The rapid growth of Indonesia as a nation has brought with it complex issues. An unorganized system of governance and a lack of education/services have exaggerated environmental challenges such as polluted waterways, clean drinking water and waste management. Kartono believes that we need to look urgently towards the context of the humble village when designing to combat the wicked environmental problems that Indonesia and the planet face. As designers we should immerse ourselves in different contexts to better understand the needs of our increasingly global society.

Reference list:

Badan Pusat Statistik. 2013, Indonesia demographic and health survey 2012, Ministry of Health, Viewed 14 March 2016, < http://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR275/FR275.pdf >.

Cooper, R. 1999, Design Contexts, The Design Journal, vol. 2, no. 1, pp 1.

Sanders, E. 2002, ‘From User-Centered to Participatory Design Approaches’, in J.Frascara (Ed.), In Design and the Social Sciences, Taylor & Francis Books Limited

The World Bank. 2016, Urban population (% of total), The World Bank Group, Washington DC, viewed 14 March 2016, < http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.URB.TOTL.IN.ZS >.

*All photographs used in this blog post are taken by the author


How to Act Indonesian with 20 Easy Steps – POST D

Indonesia has a vastly rich culture shown in their culinary styles, material craft practice, social etiquette/ behaviour and so much more. A broad and humorous summary of some of the social behaviours found within the culture can be enjoyed in Sacha Stevensen’s video playlist on ‘How to Act Indonesian’.

The first of her videos highlights the large amount of rice that Indonesians consumer and how they believe that eating plenty of rice regularly will maintain good health. From my experience this is certainly true with rice almost always being served with every meal. The video then shows how popular black berry phones are throughout the country even for those who are homeless. Offering drinks to guests and behaviour around dogs is covered next highlighting their differences from most cultures. Lastly the reckless nature of most drivers in Indonesia is shown through a driver offering to bribe an officer who caught them disobeying road rules.


The second video begins by showing the poor waste disposal habits that many Indonesians have where rubbish is often just dropped on the side of the road. The video goes on identifying the trend for Indonesians squatting in most places if staying still and often offering to pose for a photo with tourists. The next point the video raises makes a hyperbole on the butt hose and how it always results in a wet toilet seat which is a very uncomfortable experience for most tourists to deal with. Lastly the video covers the ‘socially acceptable’ way that Indonesians steal from customers by giving them back change that is close to what they should receive…


Her third video begins by looking into the religious practices of the large Muslim population within Indonesia and how the early Morning Prayer sessions can often be a disturbance to most tourists…  which I know from my own experiences. The video later looks into the social norms with pet ownership which tends to go for more exotic and endangered species over dogs which are often frowned upon. Lastly the video touches on the way some Indonesians will look to scam for money.

Her fourth and latest video touches on the important issue with work equality where sexism and ageism plays a large role in employment. The video finishes by touching on the health care practices within Indonesia and how they commonly involve witch doctors or if not, doctors that will simply prescribe you to an antibiotic in the hope that it helps.



Sacha Stevensen, 2013, How to Act Indonesian, YouTube, Last viewed 20/3/16, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp2Fnt0VbSo&list=PL1kksnrT6Y70pF3HNkLILt7e34yXbNHEw>