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  • Let's talk about thrift.

  • Thrift is a concept where you reduce, reuse and recycle,

  • but yet with an economic aspect I think has a real potential for change.

  • My grandmother, she knew about thrift.

  • This is her string jar.

  • She never bought any string.

  • Basically, she would collect string.

  • It would come from the butcher's, it would come from presents.

  • She would put it in the jar and then use it when it was needed.

  • When it was finished, whether it was tying up the roses

  • or a part of my bike,

  • once finished with that, it'd go back into the jar.

  • This is a perfect idea of thrift; you use what you need,

  • you don't actually purchase anything, so you save money.

  • Kids also inherently know this idea.

  • When you want to throw out a cardboard box,

  • the average kid will say, "Don't! I want to use it for a robot head

  • or for a canoe to paddle down a river."

  • They understand the value of the second life of products.

  • So, I think thrift is a perfect counterpoint

  • to the current age which we live in.

  • All of our current products are replaceable.

  • When we get that bright, new, shiny toy,

  • it's because, basically, we got rid of the old one.

  • The idea of that is, of course, it's great in the moment,

  • but the challenge is, as we keep doing this,

  • we're going to cause a problem.

  • That problem is that there is really no way.

  • When you throw something away, it typically goes into a landfill.

  • Now, a landfill is basically something which is not going to go away,

  • and it's increasing.

  • At the moment, we have about 1.3 billion tons of material every year

  • going into landfills.

  • By 2100, it's going to be about four billion tons.

  • See, instead, I'd prefer if we started thrifting.

  • What that means is, we consider materials when they go into products

  • and also when they get used,

  • and, at the end of their life: When can they be used again?

  • It's the idea of completely changing the way we think about waste,

  • so waste is no longer a dirty word --

  • we almost remove the word "waste" completely.

  • All we're looking to is resources.

  • Resource goes into a product

  • and then can basically go into another product.

  • We used to be good at thrifting.

  • My grandmother, again, used to use old seed packets

  • to paper the bathroom walls.

  • I think, though, there are companies out there who understand this value

  • and are promoting it.

  • And a lot of the technologies that have been developed for the smart age

  • can also be adapted to reduce, reuse and also thrift more proficiently.

  • And as a materials scientist,

  • what I've been tracking over the last couple of decades

  • is how companies are getting smart at thrifting,

  • how they're able to understand this concept

  • and profit from it.

  • I'm going to give you two examples.

  • The first one, a good one; the second one, not so good.

  • The first is the automotive industry.

  • Not always known as the most innovative or creative of industries,

  • but it turns out, they're really, really good at recycling their products.

  • Ninety-five percent of every single car that goes on the road

  • gets recycled here.

  • And of that car, about 75 percent of the entire car

  • actually gets used again.

  • That includes, of course, the old steel and aluminum

  • but then also the plastics from the fender and the interiors,

  • glass from the windows and the windshield

  • and also the tires.

  • There's a mature and successful industry that deals with these old cars

  • and basically recycles them and puts them back into use

  • as new cars or other new products.

  • Even as we move towards battery-powered cars,

  • there are companies that claim they can recycle up to 90 percent

  • of the 11 million tons of batteries that are going to be with us in 2020.

  • That, I think, is not perfect,

  • but it's certainly good, and it's getting better.

  • The industry that's not doing so well is the architecture industry.

  • One of the challenges with architecture has always been

  • when we build up, we don't think about taking down.

  • We don't dismantle, we don't disassemble, we demolish.

  • That's a challenge,

  • because it ends up that about a third of all landfill waste in the US

  • is architecture.

  • We need to think differently about this.

  • There are programs that can actually reduce some of this material.

  • A good example is this.

  • These are actually bricks that are made from old demolition waste,

  • which includes the glass, the rubble, the concrete.

  • You put up a grinder, put it all together, heat it up

  • and make these bricks we can basically build more buildings from.

  • But it's only a fraction of what we need.

  • My hope is that with big data and geotagging,

  • we can actually change that,

  • and be more thrifty when it comes to buildings.

  • If there's a building down the block which is being demolished,

  • are there materials there

  • that the new building being built here can use?

  • Can we use that, the ability to understand

  • that all the materials available in that building are still usable?

  • Can we then basically put them into a new building,

  • without actually losing any value in the process?

  • So now let's think about other industries.

  • What are other industries doing to create thrift?

  • Well, it turns out that there are plenty of industries

  • that are also thinking about their own waste

  • and what we can do with it.

  • A simple example is the waste that they basically belch out

  • as part of industrial processes.

  • Most metal smelters give off an awful lot of carbon dioxide.

  • Turns out, there's a company called Land Detector

  • that's actually working in China and also soon in South Africa,

  • that's able to take that waste gas --

  • about 700,000 tons per smelter --

  • and then turn it into about 400,000 tons of ethanol,

  • which is equivalent to basically powering 250,000, or quarter of a million, cars

  • for a year.

  • That's a very effective use of waste.

  • How about products more close to home?

  • This is a simple solution.

  • And it, again, takes the idea of reducing, reusing,

  • but then also with economic advantage.

  • So it's a simple process of changing from a cut and sew,

  • where typically between 20 and 30 materials are used

  • which are cut from a large cloth and then sewn together or even sometimes glued,

  • they changed it and said that they just knitted the shoe.

  • The advantage with this is not just a simplification of the process,

  • it's also, "I've got one material. I have zero waste,"

  • and then also, "I'm able to potentially recycle that at the end of its life."

  • Digital manufacturing is also allowing us to do this more effectively.

  • In this case, it's actually creating the theoretical limit of strength

  • for a material:

  • you cannot get any stronger for the amount of material

  • than this shape.

  • So it's a basic simple block,

  • but the idea is, I can extrapolate this, I can make it into large formats,

  • I can make it into buildings, bridges,

  • but also airplane wings and shoes.

  • The idea here is, I'm minimizing the amount of material.

  • Here's a good example from architecture.

  • Typically, these sorts of metal nodes are used to hold up large tent structures.

  • In this case, it in was in the Hague, along a shopping center.

  • They used 1600 of the materials on the left.

  • The difference is, by using the solution on the right,

  • they cut down the number of steps from seven to one,

  • because the one on the left is currently welded,

  • the one on the right is simply just printed.

  • And it was able to reduce waste to zero,

  • cost less money

  • and also, because it's made out of steel,

  • can be eventually recycled at the end of its life.

  • Nature also is very effective at thrift.

  • Think about it: nature has zero waste.

  • Everything is useful for another process.

  • So, in this case, nanocellulose,

  • which is basically one of the very fine building blocks of cellulose,

  • which is one of the materials that makes trees strong,

  • you can isolate it, and it works very much like carbon fiber.

  • So, take that from a tree, form it into fibers,

  • and then those fibers can strengthen things,

  • such as airplanes, buildings, cars.

  • The advantage of this, though, is it's not just bioderived,

  • comes from a renewable resource,

  • but also that it is transparent,

  • so it can be used in consumer electronics, as well as food packaging.

  • Not bad for something that basically comes from the backyard.

  • Another one from the biosource is synthetic spider silk.

  • Now, it's very hard to actually create spider silk naturally.

  • You can basically get it from spiders,

  • but in large numbers, they tend to kill each other, eat each other,

  • so you've got a problem with creating it,

  • in the same way you do with regular silk.

  • So what you can do is instead take the DNA from the spider,

  • and put it into various different things.

  • You can put it into bacteria, you can put it into yeast,

  • you can put it into milk.

  • And what you can do then is,

  • the milk or the bacteria produce in much larger volumes

  • and then from that, spin a yarn and then create a fabric or a rope.

  • Again, bioderived, has incredible strength -- about the same as Kevlar --

  • so they're using it in things like bulletproof vests and helmets

  • and outdoor jackets.

  • It has a great performance.

  • But again, it's bioderived, and at the end of its life,

  • it potentially can go back into the soil and get composted

  • to again be potentially used as a new material.

  • I'd like to leave you with one last form which is biobased,

  • but this, I think, is like the ultimate thrift.

  • Think about the poster child for conspicuous consumption.

  • It's the water bottle.

  • We have too many of them, they're basically going everywhere,

  • they're a problem in the ocean.

  • What do we do with them?

  • This process is able not just to recycle them,

  • but to recycle them infinitely.

  • Why is that interesting?

  • Because when we think about reusing and recycling,

  • metals, glass, things like that, can be recycled as many times as you like.

  • There's metal in your car

  • that may well have come from a 1950s Oldsmobile,

  • because you can recycle it infinitely with no loss of performance.

  • Plastics offer about once or twice of recycling,

  • whether it's a bottle, whether it's a chair --

  • whatever it is, if it's carpet --

  • after two times of recycling, whether it goes back into another chair, etc,

  • it tends to lose strength, it's no longer of any use.

  • This, though, just using a few enzymes, is able to recycle it infinitely.

  • I take a bottle or a chair or some other plastic product,

  • I basically put it in with a few enzymes, they break it apart,

  • they basically put it back into its original molecules.

  • And then from those molecules,

  • you can build another chair or carpet or bottle.

  • So, the cycle is infinite.

  • The advantage with that, of course,

  • is that you have potentially zero loss of material resources.

  • Again, the perfect idea of thrift.

  • So in conclusion, I just want to have you think about -- if you make anything,

  • if you're any part of a design firm,

  • if you basically are refurbishing your house --

  • any aspect where you make something,

  • think about how that product could potentially be used

  • as a second life, or third life or fourth life.

  • Design in the ability for it to be taken apart.

  • That, to me, is the ultimate thrift,

  • and I think that's basically what my grandmother would love.

  • (Applause)

Let's talk about thrift.

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B1 US TED thrift waste basically recycle material

【TED】Andrew Dent: To eliminate waste, we need to rediscover thrift (To eliminate waste, we need to rediscover thrift | Andrew Dent)

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    Zenn posted on 2018/05/01
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