the case for zero waste
Zero Waste. It’s a term that is much bandied about, but what exactly does it mean?
As defined by the Zero Waste International Alliance: “The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”
And this means following a product from beginning to end. Knowing how your product was developed, how it was produced, how long it will last – and what happens at the end of its life. The end of its life should take it back to its birth or recycle it for new use. That’s zero waste – and it’s what we all need to work toward. This is the new “cradle-to-cradle” movement.
cradle to cradle
A clear example is our palm and banana leaf woven baskets. They start from living plants and are made using sustainable materials. They are hand-woven, using traditions passed down for generations. They will serve you well for a lifetime and when their life does end, they decompose in a very short time. And return to the earth as nutrients to help other plants grow. This is what we mean by sustainable, and cradle-to-cradle (often referred to as C2C). As opposed to “cradle-to-grave” which is a journey to the landfill. We want to avoid this as much as possible.
While some of our products will take considerable time to decompose, they are natural materials and will go back to the earth. But conversely, these pieces will be useful for a very long time – pieces such as our volcanic stone molcajetes (mortar & pestle) and our marble vases. They will be functional for your grandchildren’s children. As for our pottery, most is unglazed and will revert to the earth once its long life has been lived. And even if you break it, pottery shards will always have a revered place in the garden as a drainage aid.
This brings us to another point. If a product won’t break down at the end of its life, it must be recycled, repurposed, or reused – and then it is considered part of C2C (and otherwise becomes cradle-to-grave). And we need to pay attention to two very salient facts:
1. Recycling creates more jobs than disposal.
2. It takes 1/20th of the energy (for example) to create a can from recycled aluminum than it does from scratch.
At the same time, we reduce pollution thanks to the reduced need for raw materials (so many of which are not sustainable).
Zero waste refers to waste prevention, not waste management. Cliched as it sounds, an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure but we can’t build Rome in a day. It will take the world time to catch up – but there also is no time to waste.
Giving New Life to Recycled Material
A good example is our jewelry partners in Nairobi, Kenya – who create beautiful, upscale jewelry from discarded brass pieces, giving the once cast-off metal bits new life – and saving the manufacture of further metals. All while keeping these pieces out of the landfill. These metal pieces are awarded a new life, a new birth, a new cradle. Creating something as refined and elegant as this jewelry from something that was abandoned is as good as recycling gets.
How Do We Know our Products are Sustainable and Ethical?
We know our products are sustainable and ethical because our founder, Treana Peake, meets with each artisan partner and we trace each product from concept to completion. This ensures that Obakki’s sustainability and ethical standards are met. We believe in knowing the impact of our consumption, not only on the environment but also on the communities and individuals involved.
Every item is created by small batch production to ensure sustainability. It also ensures the quality of the work and inherent value in these unique homewares. These are the products that are handed down through generations and become family heirlooms.
And this is a fitting path for pieces that are handcrafted using ancestral knowledge that has been handed down for generations. From one generation to the next, from creators to guardians, the circle endures.
Would you like to be part of the C2C community? An example of a zero-waste starter kit could include cloth napkins, a reusable market bag (waxed canvas or palm leaves), and linen linens (the most sustainable material on earth). Never buy beauty products that contain phthalates, parabens, or silicone. Purchase homewares that are made to last.
SHOP OUR COLLECTION OF ARTISAN-LED PRODUCTS
My pottery is inspired by the generations that came before me who have passed down this sacred craft. In my community you are born, raised and live each day by the clay—the Holy Mother. Every part of my being is woven through the story of this magical mud.
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