Postcard from Denmark: The throwaway culture is over

Jeans that purify air. Fish scales used as a plastic substitute. Golf tees made out of sugar. These are some of the ideas for using sustainable materials and reducing waste that are on display at the Danish Design Center in Copenhagen, across from the famous Tivoli Garden amusement park.

The exhibit, called “Hello Materials,” reflects a strong interest by businesses and researchers to investigate concepts and engineer products that scale back a reliance on non-renewable sources. These are concepts that could resonate with average consumers, not just the über socially and environmentally conscious types. As Nille Juul-Sorensen, CEO of the Danish Design Center, said in a video shown at the exhibit:

“Consumers are demanding sustainable products because we have reached a point in our evolution where the throwaway culture is over.”

The companies creating these concept and commercial products include some big names – Coca-Cola and Puma, for example — and their motives for investing in environmentally friendly designs may be part pragmatic and part clever marketing. Regardless, their involvement reminds us that large companies have the means and the responsibility to push for a much broader acceptance of sustainable products.

Seeing all these efforts to re-cycle materials and find renewable substitutes makes me think that we need to figure out how to simply use less stuff in our lives. While it’s good to see Coca-Cola find ways to re-use plastic bottles, it’d be even better if we all just drink less soda.

Check out the following photos and captions about the exhibit: