Native Fashion, Native Living, Stories

Make way for the Ocean Gold Diggers

cre·a·tiv·i·ty

ˌkrēāˈtivədē

noun

the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

This is the definition of creativity when you google online. I personally would define true creativity as ideas and works produced from limited resources though.

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Sustainable Brands Thailand and the Upcycling the Oceans project (TAT – Tourism Authority of Thailand, PTT-Petroleum Authority of Thailand and Ecoalf) have decided to team up recently to stir more attention towards the risen issue on waste management and the threat of marine life cause by humans’ waste.

And to emphasize on the scarcity of our resources, they came out with a competition called Redesigning the Good Waste to challenge the creative wizards in Thailand with materials limited to waste found in the ocean.

Weavers of gold and masters of creativity

40 participants submitted their entries in July and 13 of them were selected for the final round. Participants were to create one main product for submission and another product as a souvenir for the upcoming SB Bangkok event in October 12 & 13 2018. This souvenir will be distributed to at least 400 attendees at the conference. Which means winner gets to start selling their product. And the main winner for the competition will walk away with 30,000baht.

Given the limited time to prepare their prototype, I was pretty impressed by the works submitted from the finalists of the competition. A few of them drew my curiosity to take a second or even third look at their designs.

Here are some of the entries that caught my eye:

Good memories sleeping bag/blanket – Phakawat Suwan

Would you imagine yourself sleeping in a bed of plastic bottles collected from the oceans?  Sounds terrible but this is literally that. Made from 100% PET bottles recycled polyester, Phakawat Suwan managed to make your sleep memorable with a sleeping bag shaped like a giant picture postcard. It’s so comfortable that you would not call that trash. I could see myself tucking in that sleeping bag, camping out in some mountain and watching the skyful of stars.

Weaved straw file folders – Witchulada Panthanuvong

Wichulada Panthanuvong, an artist who is no stranger to gathering straws has previously been involved creating recycled sculpture in ChangChui. For the competition, she weaved straws into file folders that actually looked pretty cool and sturdy. Waterproof? yes of course because they’re straws! The only issue I figure will probably be the time taken to clean the straws. I wouldn’t volunteer for that,

Rainbow Hammock + Bottle shaped lightweight bag – Brian Carraway & Tanawan Samleerat

Brian and Nok really nailed it when it comes to pitching. A successful product derived not only through great creation but also great narration to the story behind the product. They design a massive hammock out from nylon taffeta with multi-colored strings to represent people from all walks of life. To pay extra attention on providing a sustainable livelihood to the locals, they have got seamstresses from the Northern mountains of Thailand to do the sewing with a conscious mind set for the fair trade.

For the SB souvenir design, to tie in with the awareness to the threat that Bang Kachao is facing over urbanization, they created a lightweight bag in a shape of a plastic bottle to remind people about single-usage plastic. The map of Bang Kachao is also printed onto the front of the bag to create that unique identity. The bag is so light and small that anyone can just slipped into your pockets and you wouldn’t have noticed.

While chatting with them Nok revealed a fun fact that she is actually a BangKachao native who grew up there! Coincidence?

We knew they have already won half the battle when the attendees and judges of the competition flocked to see their bag and started taking selfies  with the bag slung during the short break.

Pebble coaster and Attachable beach sandals – Jutarat & Supasara

Clad in typical black and white university uniform, Jutarat and Supasara, I had mistaken them as some interns helping out in the event. In Thailand, it is not uncommon to see young student doing internship in large, public and private organizations.  These two young girls created pebble-like coasters for the SB souvenir by using rolled waste cloth materials. The design is simple but yet attractive while the resemblance of the pebbles remind us of the beaches.

For the main competing product, they created unique beach sandals that has comfortable, transparent latex soles with tiny pieces of colorful used fabrics inside. The straps  on the sandals comes in white to remind us of the bleaching of the coral reefs caused by human activities.

The sandals also comes with cute, practical little clips that we could attached to our belts if we decide to stroll by the sandy beaches barefoot and don’t want to lose sight of our shoes. Clever!

This one’s for the children

Who wouldn’t fall in love with this little turtle backpack ? Made also with upcycled PET materials, it has removable turtle shell that double as a pillow carrying important message to remind people about how we dispose our waste. Habits are built over the years. Education is an important source to direct positive impact about the planet for our future generation. With a little cuteness added to this useful backpack, message could be passed much easier to kids rather than boring them traditional why and how lectures.

With the same material, they created little fish souvenirs that could be used as coin pouch and pencil cases. We could feel that the work was done with so much passion and love. The interior of these pouches have even details to the flesh and bones!

I think this group deserves a pat in the back for the effort they put to educate the kids and users in an adorable manner!

By the end of the 13 presentations, the panel of judges announced Phakawat’s sleeping bag as the winner and Brian and Tanawan’s Bang Kachao’s bag was chosen as the souvenir for the SB event.

It doesn’t really matter who won the competition because all these participants are already winners who knew how to make profits out from the ocean waste. They are not only the ocean’s gold diggers but they are the marine life saviors too!

For more information about Sustainable Brands Bangkok 2018, check out their website: sustainablebrandsbkk.com

And to learn more about Upcycling the Oceans project:  https://ecoalf.com/upcycling-the-oceans/thailand/

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