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Friday, March 16, 2012

Contest! Prizes! Send in your clever reuse/upcycling ideas by April 2, 2012

So, for the last couple years, I've been bothered by the tremendous resource waste represented by the packaging on dental floss -- a few cents of waxed string delivered in a very highly engineered and complex package made from petrochemicals and (overwhelmingly) discarded after a short period of use.

Reading about the TerraCycle folks made me think again about this, and decide to ask folks if they could come up with a creative reuse or "upcycling" method for using these empty containers for a good purpose. SO if you're a creative type, or just have been around enough to know of a clever reuse or way to repurpose these containers, send me your idea.

If I get any ideas that seem really exciting and plausible, I'll work on getting them tested and implemented. I'll rate the ideas on the following criteria (in a totally subjective way):
  • 1) Ease of implementation -- the less work needed to do the repurposing, the better.

  • 2) Size of potential market -- if only a few people in the world would value the repurposed container in its new incarnation, then even if your idea is clever and easy to implement, it's not going to result in getting many of these things out of the landfill.

  • 3) Lack of special tools needed -- this is related to ease of implementation, but not identical. A great idea for a big market would make it sensible for a business to buy or make special tools to accomplish the transformation of the object from waste into a new, valuable thing. But if the tooling would be costly or hard, then that counts against the idea.

  • 4) Repurposed product durability -- the best idea is one that will keep these things out of the waste stream as long as possible, if not indefinitely, while accomplishing a useful goal. If your upcycled use will cause the product to fail quickly, then the idea might still be ok, but it's definitely better if your idea accounts for durability.
Send me your ideas by April 2, 2012 (preferably in a drawing or by arranging for us to meet and you can show it to me). As I say, it's going to be my subjective opinion solely as to the best idea received, but it might turn into a business opportunity for us down the road (or for Garten or some other worthy nonprofit). If I get any great ideas, I'll pick the best and arrange for you and a friend to have two tickets for a show at Salem Cinema, and run through all the ideas on this website on Earth Day. (In other words, if you send me your ideas, they will or may be shared with others -- don't send me anything you want to remain a secret.)

Good luck and creative thinking everyone!