Finding Ways to Preserve the Past Through Upcycling

22 April 2020
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With the creation and rollout of the firm’s new logo, Walter P Moore was presented with the next phase: transitioning promotional and marketing material. Certain elements were simple to address by applying a new logo sticker to unexpired hard hats, continuing to use branded construction safety vests, and donating old letterhead to local elementary art classes. However, one piece which could not be converted easily was vinyl pop-up banners. Standing by the firm’s Stewardship coordinate, the internally comprised Green Team began brainstorming.

“We knew we couldn’t let the material simply be shipped off to landfills,” comments Dirk Kestner, Director of Sustainable Design. “We needed to find a ‘sweet spot’ that would provide something useful for our team members that were large enough to utilize the material but did not incur significant labor costs associated with re-purposing.” The Green Team considered multiple products and came up with upcycled gold: zipper pouches.

“We found a vendor who could take our vinyl banners and convert them into 5x8 zipper pouches,” explains Washington, D.C. Green Team Lead Tom Yost. “It was an ideal way to preserve pieces of our firms’ history and a great way to carry around extra cords, business cards, supplies for your next site visit, fun-size candy bars—anything really…use your imagination!”

For nearly a year, team members across offices stuffed extra banners into carry-on luggage storing them at a centralized location until enough material was collected to accomplish the upcycling mission. Ultimately, over one hundred pounds of banners were sent to Ecological Designs where they were transformed into 800 zipper pouches which will be distributed to employees by request. This is the equivalent of preventing approximately 110,000 plastic straws from entering the Earth’s landfills.

“This is really about an arc forward and reconsidering the concept of ‘waste’ and lifecycle impacts,” says Kestner. “We must consider the anticipated lifecycle and likely end of life scenarios when we decide to purchase a product. By converting the banners into pouches, we not only gave them a second and hopefully long-lived life, but we also avoided purchasing a new product. What can we create that can be utilized by multiple market sectors and cross event lines? How can we truly be good stewards of our resources?”

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