Mini-Stories: Volume 10

Circularity Argument with
Zoé Bezpalko

As consumers, we’re trained to think of finished products as the end stage of design, but others view it as a first step on a circular path. Consider furniture, for instance, made modular by makers like 57st. design so that table and bed legs can be swapped out when parts of the whole break down rather than scrapping whole objects; or companies like AMP Robotics, which is coordinating recycling robots, programming them to better identify reuse potential; or PlasticRoad, which recycles plastic into modular road-building blocks. More broadly: imagine cities as “material banks” full of potential-rich leftovers that can be paired with systems to make the best possible use of these bits and pieces. These approaches all speak to a larger way of thinking about how we use and reuse materials and create objects that can lead multiple lives.

99% Invisible’s Impact Design coverage is supported by Autodesk. The Autodesk Foundation supports the design and creation of innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. Learn more about these efforts on Autodesk’s Redshift, which tells stories about the future of making across architecture, engineering, infrastructure and manufacturing,.

  1. Mary Sue Hunt

    There was no mention in the story about what the farmers use the sheep for. If they are eaten, does their diet make the meat taste differently? And if they use the wool, does the diet impact the texture or how it can be used in any way?

  2. Scott McR

    I don’t think it was the failure of the kelp industry that forced the islanders away… I’d be more inclined to unromanticize it and lay a lot of the blame to the highland clearances. Cattle was worth more than people

  3. Alex

    The sheep wall reminds of the vast number of dry stone walls that are around the English Lake District. I have watched a guy repair a wall over the last year and there is real craftsmanship in his work. The result is amazing and no rock is broken up, just placed in a complex jigsaw, but it is very slow.

    The area has a lot of hills (or rather fells as we call them). In fact Alfred Wainwright in his Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells noted 214 of them. Many of these fells have dry stone walls in pretty weird places. Like on some very steep slopes that you’d struggle to walk up. Local legend has it that a lot of these were built by prisoners of war from the Napoleonic wars. I’m fairly certain that these walls and sheepfolds have been around for a lot longer. Either way a nice sight on our landscape.

  4. Isobel

    The plastic roads discussed would be perfect for Los Angeles. They would address LA’s soil erosion problem by collecting rain water and redistributing it directly beneath the roads, rather than simply being runoff which causes flash flooding. The city is already trying to address the erosion problem by making new buildings use permeable paving surfaces on the ground. Using roads to collect water would massively increase the catchment area.
    LA would be the perfect opportunity test the strength of this product.

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