May 29, 2018 / Trend

The Treasure in Trash

As designers become increasingly conscious of waste management, we have been witnessing the demise of plastic. More brands are increasing their commitment to sustainability. In light of this, our strategy team has been exploring the importance of ‘we’ inspired thinking and why brands must embrace this within their communication and design.

The eyes of world turned to NYCxDESIGN last week. Linda Bergroth’s work with the Finnish design shop was a notable and celebrated example of the aforementioned themes. The collaboration resulted in a bistro that was made using recycled materials. Resounding in the sentiment that ‘one man’s trash, is another person’s treasure’, the thought-provoking design sought to inspire people to reconsider the way they live, eat and consume.

True to this, we have been exploring how ‘trash’ can be a useful tool for brands. With this in mind, we got talking to Anna from beauty brand Optiat.

With a brand name that is an acronym for ‘one person’s trash is another’s’ treasure’, we explore the materiality of trash, the rise of the circular economy and do good brands.

Here you can check out our interview:

S: Can you tell us about your journey with Optiat so far? We love how your story started. Can you explain more about the brand and your message?

A: Absolutely! The initial idea to make sustainable coffee scrubs from repurposed used coffee grounds came about from a culmination of different things. First, my brother (and co-founder of Optiat) William was bought a cafetiere and was making his own coffee every morning.

He lived in central London with no garden and so didn’t have plants to put the grounds on (as many people do) so instead he was simply throwing them away. He got to thinking that if he alone was throwing away so many coffee grounds each morning, then, given the size of the coffee industry, on a wider scale there must be an awful lot of waste – and he was right!

We were also aware that people have been using coffee on their skin for many years around the world. However, no one seemed to be making coffee scrubs from used coffee grounds. All of this came in parallel to the huge rise in awareness of the devastating impact of microbeads on our environment. As we all look towards natural alternatives for our exfoliators, repurposed coffee seemed like a brilliant option.

S: That is a really inspiring story. Sounds like a real eureka moment. We admire your commitment to sustainability and promoting a circular economy. Can you elaborate more for our readers on about creating a circular economy?

A: We transform ingredients that would have gone to waste into products that perform better than the rest. In creating these products, Optiat brings the circular economy to the beauty industry. That means moving away from the traditional linear economy of ‘take, make, waste’ to one in which resources are recovered and reused at the end of their life

S: We have been exploring how the brands we work with can manage waste, or better yet, use it to create something thoughtful. Your brand message is so positive and we admire the sentiment of giving back to the world. How do you ensure this message is communicated?

A: Thank you – I am pleased to hear that that is coming across clearly! When we started out it was clear to us that when it comes to beauty products, organic, natural and sustainable ingredients are increasingly becoming an entry-level expectation, rather than a point of difference. Just being natural or organic is no longer enough.

Optiat was born out of the restless desire to change the outdated industry model of take, make, waste – for us, the status quo is no-go. We communicate this by highlighting the unique repurposing nature of our brand as much as possible. Our products provide access to new, innovative, and interesting ingredients that work for you, and the environment.

S: Talking about the environment, your website you mentions that we send 500,000 tonnes of coffee to landfill. This statistic is so crazy. Do you know how much waste Optiat has prevented?

A: Our coffee scrubs have saved approximately 15 tonnes of coffee waste from ending up in landfill… so far!

S: Wow! That is truly epic. On the subject of trash so to speak, how do you hope to see the world using trash more?

A: For us it is all about seeing potential where others don’t. We’re starting a movement to make circular skincare both aspirational and accessible. We continue to question everything and constantly search for a better way to do things. We hope not only that companies can look to minimising what they are wasting but also that more people like us can step in to give a new purpose to those ingredients that companies can’t find a use for in their own industry. We need to work together to minimise waste from all sides – Let’s all search for better ways to do things! Hopefully, Optiat proof that waste doesn’t need to be wasted.

Key Takeaways

Identify how waste can be an opportunity to be creative and inspire design opportunities.

Think ‘we’. How can your brand embrace the circular economy? Consider how to connect with consumers through value and inspire social change.

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