Introduction | With more stuff comes more waste.
We live in an increasingly consumerist society, and our days are filled by various small purchases and buying decisions — a new pair of shoes; a home delivered meal on a stressful day. These help to make our lives a little more colourful, or perhaps, a little easier. But it’s also these little things that add up — and fill our ever increasing landfills.
So much of the waste we generate in our homes — cardboard packaging, newspapers, shampoo bottles, paper bags — is actually valuable recyclable material. Right now, most of this valuable material ends up in a landfill—many of them within city limits. In fact, a study suggests that 80–90% of the recyclable waste that is dumped in landfills comes from households and other small generators.
We believe that introducing small behavioural changes in our homes could make a huge difference.
We set out to design a storage unit that will help Indian households easily sort and store the recyclable waste generated at home—newspapers, packaging, bottles, containers, etc. Our aesthetic, space saving design solution is optimised for the modern Indian home. By bringing out the potential in what would normally be thrown away, we intend to help the Indian household re-evaluate their perception of waste.
Indian cities already possess a robust ecosystem of Kabadiwallas, or scrap-dealers, who sort and recycle waste from various sources—including households. Our app, Recykle, helps you find a neighbourhood Kabadiwalla to sell your recyclables to.
Together, the app and storage unit form a two-part system to initiate a nationwide movement to live less wastefully and to take better care of the world we leave behind.
Our focus is on elegant, functional design to enhance everyday lives, and ‘Sorted’ will be expanded into a line of unique objects for the home and office.
Through our work, we aim to cut through the chaos of modern living; to create solutions, not add to the clutter. Design can have a reputation for being superficial and concerned purely with visual appeal, but we see it as a process and a way of thinking; one that takes into consideration the surrounding context and life cycle of a product.
The Design Process
As we were challenged with introducing a new behaviour to Indian households, and in order to get a good understanding of the local context, we developed questionnaires, spent time with Kabadiwallas and observed typical household behaviour across Chennai. As space is usually a concern, segregation is not as widely adopted as it could be. People believe it is a tedious process and aren’t aware of the myriad types of waste that Kabadiwallas will take—shampoo bottles, glass bottles, aluminium cans and plastic components can all be stored, sold, and in turn, kept out of our landfills.
Once we looked at all the information, we went about laying out the basic parameters that will define the product. We went through several brainstorming sessions to generate designs, keeping in mind a core philosophy of functional minimalism for lasting value. Sketching and prototyping helped us gain valuable insight at each stage.
We explored reclaimed and sustainable materials and manufacturing processes, scoping the city for materials that we could source locally. This , in turn , influenced our forms, so our processes could be streamlined.
The next phase in our design process involves testing prototypes with groups of users, to gauge their interactions, and gain insights that might help us to refine our product and process.
We aim for ‘Sorted’ to communicate intuitively, bring about a shift in perceptions and behaviour, and become a valued part of your home.
-Written by Tanuja Ramani & Nayantara Thomas