The visions of designers Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel about circular economy

ecoBirdy's Circular Economy Vision - Interview by Reframe

In an inspiring conversation with Bridget Cogley, journalist and founder of the online magazine Reframe, our founders Joris and Vanessa talked about the vision of ecoBirdy.

While explaining the brand’s mission, the designer duo shared its ideas on circular economy and sustainability

From water consumption to environmental price tags, how to build a path to a more conscious lifestyle.

Value in our planet's resources and making the best out of them. Eco-water system and composting organic waste are daily essentials

BC: What’s the one most promising technology or development you think the industry should adopt more broadly?

VY & JV: Only one? There are so many! We have two: an eco-water system and composting organic waste.

The water we use in bathrooms to wash hands or shower should be collected to flush toilets and wipe floors. The water we use in the kitchen to wash vegetables and plates should be collected to water the plants. Such a system should be installed in every domestic living environment.

Then also, composting organic waste should be part of daily life for every human being. Organic waste is easy to biodegrade and goes back to benefit our ecosystem. Nothing is more sustainable than this. However, most of us are not doing so.

If you think about it, it’s ironic that we put a lot of attention on recycling, reducing plastic, and inventing new biodegradable materials, but we aren’t composting our own organic waste simply because it’s inconvenient.

Recognizing the environmental impact of every decision. Environmental price tags would make our choice more conscious

BC: What are some ways to get more people on board with sustainability, particularly when it comes to buying sustainable pieces?

VY & JV: There should be 2 price tags: one in money and the other on the environment. It’s up to consumers to decide the value. Often, when talking about cost, it goes to one point: where is it made? Our products are made in Italy and Belgium. We apply social and environmental responsibility at every step of our practice. For every decision we make, the natural impact is a concern and priority. The costs then indeed are high but we believe it is worth it because the cost on the environment is low.

Also, a more sustainable product is not necessarily more expensive. That’s a misconception.

Managing the product's lifecycle from the beginning to the end. Synchronizing the supply chain is important

BC: What’s the one major thing that needs to happen right now to further efforts in sustainable design?

VY & JV: Synchronize supply chains and recycle chains. Suppliers of consumer goods must work together with recyclers on post-product life. The producer must include recycling for its own products.

For decades, most industries focused on how to produce faster and cheaper, without considering the impact on nature and the ‘afterlife’ of a product. Many technologies were invented to maximize consumption: sell better, sell more. They might be beneficial to us (human being’s civilized life) but it’s irresponsible on the environment if we don’t consider a product’s lifecycle.

Unify the measurements of "sustainability". Monitoring material availability and product lifecycle

BC: Sustainability is a pretty vague word. Do you relate? If so, what’s an appropriate substitute?

VY & JV: The words sustainable and sustainability are often used to mislead, and there are no easy alternatives. We need a measurement system, and we must look at sustainability in 2 parts: product lifecycle and material.

A constructive and accurate measurement system would be helpful to differentiate a product’s sustainability – product lifecycle – from the raw material to the production process, the distribution chain, the post-consumption until recycling (or biodegrading). All of the energy involved could be calculated to get a complete report about the natural impact of a product on the energy used. The lifecycle analysis of a product shows in detail the environmental impact of production, logistics, and end-of-life.

But this system must include the status of the resources’ availability globally to keep the balance. If all industries replace material A with material B, we would then face a material B shortage soon, even if the material is sustainable and grows back easily. There should be a control on overproduction to not break the balance of our ecosystem.

Such a system would also require collaboration between industries, countries, and governments. It is a challenge for governments to move interests from growing economies to growing natural resources. It would be a dream!

New industrial technologies, supply chain synchronization and extended lifespan of the products are only a few pieces to add to a more complex puzzle of innovations required to make the Earth healthier. 

ecoBirdy’s message of awareness and education goes beyond the creation of striking recycled plastic design, encouraging people to develop more sustainable habits.


Read the complete interview on Reframe

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