We're sick of plastics, what can we do with it?

We’re sick of plastics, what can we do with it?


Recently, we have been looking at a big awareness for the use of plastics and how this material (by means of some irresponsible users), have been occupying our oceans, rivers and natural environments in a disturbing manner.

Recycling is somehow doing something for this, same does up-cycling. Parley for The Oceans, for example, is an organization dedicated to support the oceans, protect the animals and save their lives by cleaning their natural habitat with the incentive of innovative design ideas. Their strong campaign has taken artists such as Pharrell Williams, to create designs destined to recuperate this discarded plastic that ends up in landfills and oceans, which in consequence, are digested by wild animals after confusing the plastic colors with food. As an animal lover, just writing those words overwhelm me.

Now, what solutions can we provide to lessen the harm to our oceans? By living on a Caribbean Island, makes me understand and value even more, the importance of our shores. I notice that our beautiful beaches are not that bad, although for some reason, other beaches on other islands such as Rubbish, Kamilo Beach in Hawaii, are being tagged as one of the most contaminated beach in the world, or plastic beaches.
Projects like Ocean Cleanup Array, a system of nets intended to capture plastics from the oceans designed by young Boyan Slat; Pharell’s Raw for the Oceans clothing and accessories line and Will-I-Am’s Ekocycle Cube 3d printer that produces filament from the processing of discarded plastics; are some of the options recently achieved in order to process this waste.

How about the use of plastics in Architecture and Construction?

Below are a few books I recommend reading in terms of understanding the properties of the material, how others have been using it, and how can it be recycled for future architectural or industrial design use.




Plastics, the book about Architecture and Construction with this old material, has to be understood from its background history and so forth, in order to learn how can you actually build with this type of material. Many Architects were seduced by the lightness of it, how maleable it is and how practical it became to achieve many structures we control with computers today.

This is a preview of the book, which gives you a look at what designers explored years ago, within Architectural limitations, demonstrating us enormous possibilities of construction. It also contains material properties, which is basic for understanding how can we manage to upgrade it to become a better material, to transform it into other purposes, or better yet, solve the contamination problem we are facing with discarded plastics.

In addition to this book preview, a team from ETH Zurich School of Architecture, have developed this complete book, recently launched in Europe and soon to be published for USA, titled “Building from Waste: Recovered materials in Architecture and Construction”. Filled with an amazing overview on how to use waste in our favor for Architecture, Interiors and Industrial Design, includes projects from my friends at OneLab and TerreformONE, who love experiencing with growing materials and the understanding of urban waste in order to convert it into construction material.

Enjoy and learn, lets make something good out of this waste, or create a new type that eliminates the previous chemistry mix.

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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.