Thai Creatives Are Embracing Sustainability In Their Design Approach — Here's How
From plant-based takeaway cups to skincare made from indigo roots, a range of useful and thoughtful products are being created by brands embracing sustainable practices.
July 08, 2022
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Most of us are conscious of the climate emergency the planet is facing and are trying to be more ethical consumers as a result. But how many of us really know where our home furnishings, fashion or lifestyle products come from? It's too easy to go to a chain store and not question the manufacturing process behind many of its goods, but there's often a more sustainable alternative.
And while there's an array of brands around the world championing sustainable practices, The Royal Thai Government has committed to positioning Thailand as a world leader in sustainable design. It's recently announced the creation of its BCG (Bio, Circular and Green) Economy to drive economic growth via the production of goods from renewable resources. Want to see how it comes to life? We've found ten Thai innovators who are doing their bit for the planet while still making quality products that are hard to pass up.
When it comes to recycling, plastic is often the planet's real bête noire. It can take around 450 years for a plastic bottle to break down in landfill and every year, the world produces 380 million tonnes of the stuff. Bope is on a mission to do its bit to rescue some of that plastic.
Its products — bags, purses, coasters, pots and more — are as stylish as they are practical, coming in a range of eye-catching designs and bright colours. Operating since 2014, this Chiang Mai design studio really knows how to get the best out of plastic.
The concept underpinning (pun intended) this award-winning brand is "new life of waste, new life of welder". As well as finding an innovative use for scrap metal, PiN encourages the craftspeople working on its products to take pride and dignity in the work they are doing.
Founded by an artist who grew up in a family-owned steel company, PiN takes unremarkable waste metal and transforms it into beautiful homewares and decorations including hanging planters and stunning artworks.
Luxury and sustainability aren't always two concepts that go together, but Pasaya is looking to change that. Its range of rugs and carpets are high-end, durable and available in a whole host of patterns.
Made from upcycled plastic bottles and manufactured using cutting-edge weaving techniques, Pasaya furnishings are made with the warm Thai climate in mind — something which is also ideal for many Australian homes. The company is also committed to reducing waste in all parts of the process including monitoring water utilisation, bacterial digestion and chemical reduction in the creation of its products.
TRC has over half a century's experience in stone polishing. The brand incorporates the ethos of sustainability into all it does, not just finished products, with even the moulds the company uses comprising of cement debris that other contractors would throw into a skip.
Its signature collection is now made from entirely recycled materials including polished stone tables with bright, geometric patterns created from smashed and repurposed stone samples.
Fashion company Circular is extremely aptly named. Its garments are made of recycled materials, as you may expect, but if you donate your old clothes to Circular, you can also get a 10% discount off your next purchase, thus continuing the loop.
Circular doesn't just use pre-loved items — it also sources waste from textile manufacturers, so it's never wholly reliant on generous donations. The brand also make a point of keeping the original colour of any materials used, therefore helping the environment by avoiding the use of harmful bleach or other chemicals.
As well as a commitment to being eco-friendly, apparel brand KH Editions also has a strong focus on the local community. The company collaborates with locals, garnering ideas and materials, but also creating income and opportunities. What this means for the customer (as well as supporting an ethical brand) is the opportunity to purchase unique items of clothing which celebrate Thai culture made from materials like galangal and banana stem. And the designs are just as innovative as the manufacturing process — KH Editions clothing stands out in the best way.
Using materials like water hyacinth, rice husk and hemp, eco-fashion brand Earthtone's manifesto is to "spread love, not chemicals". Founded by husband-and-wife team Sayuri Okawa and Atthapon Pongsawat in 2019 after observing the degradation of Southern Thailand's coral reefs, Earthtone strives for efficiency, sustainability and spreading the message of conservation through clothing.
The brand isn't stopping there, though — it's also looking to expand into home décor. Given its website proudly states the brand has preserved over 400,000 litres of drinking water and avoided over 500 kilograms of carbon emissions through its production methods, you truly want them to succeed.
DD PAPER CUPS
Many of us are getting better with our keep cups these days, but there are still times when you forget your reusable vessel and can't resist the lure of a barista-made coffee. The number of single-use cups thrown away is truly frightening — and that's where DD Paper Cups comes in.
The business produces disposable cups, food containers, lids, tissues (basically any kind of packaging you'd associate with food and drinks to go) that are all environmentally friendly. The coffee cup line is even biodegradable, with the "plastic" that coats the inside made from plant material, meaning they break down within six months and can be used as fertiliser.
HIDE & SEEK
Let's talk kitty litter. It's usually made of rocks which you have to throw away when your beloved feline friend has done what they need to do. However, Hide & Seek has a new solution: cat litter that's produced entirely from cassava — a South American shrub that's also a staple food in many regions.
Cassava has the same liquid and odour-absorbing qualities as the rock ore that most kitty litter is made from, only it's biodegradable, non-toxic and won't clog the pipes if flushed down the dunny. That would be a waste, however, as Hide & Seek cat litter can have a second life as plant fertiliser.
You may normally just think of indigo as one of the colours of the rainbow but its origins are as a dye extracted from roots. For generations, people have used indigo root for its medicinal qualities as well as for giving colour to fabric.
Khramer seeks to bring this benefit and wisdom to a wider group of people via its range of cosmetics made from indigo roots which is as safe and sustainable as it is effective. The brand's core products are a facial serum and a sunscreen, meaning you can take care of your skin and the planet at once.
Keen to explore more sustainable brands? For more information, visit the DITP website, or explore more of Thailand's incredible creative scene here.
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