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Resign (Re-design) 

Reject today's design paradigm of manufacturing with virgin materials and re-design the system of waste​

#reject #systems #waste #consumerism #materials

Year / Duration

2019 / 10 weeks


Classroom project, NID

Hats worn

System thinker,

Material Designer


Astha Avinash (Paper-making)

What has anthropocene given us? How can material-innovation can give rise to a new culture? A culture of realising the potential of waste and its sytemic interventions.

Since homo sapiens walked on this planet, In the anthropoecene age, humans have used ingenuity to convert resources into products. With the advent of HCI, we've also entered the digital age reforming the way we live with data all around us. Recent developments and inventions have increased human life-span and provided us with the convenience we never imagined a few centuries ago. Project Re-store is a system design project for finding a resource of today. We need to critically analyse what anthropocene has given us.


India is primarily an agrarian society with millions of tonnes of overlooked agricultural waste. Through my intervention, I've tried reduce up-stream waste and re-purpose rice from stubble, husk to starch into new materials and forms. 



  • Understand material culture

  • Its relationship to product design

  • Products we use everyday, how can they be looked differently?

  • How can we intervene in a systematic way (as opposed to a stand-alone design solution)?


Several tools were deployed during research as well as implementation of the intervention. During research, the process involved both primary Research and secondary research to understand Anthropocene's impact on the planet, the 'system of waste' within India, and developing a framework for material life cycle (b) for deploying the intervention, material tinkering was used to to convert a waste re-source which would otherwise be incinerated to a useful upcycled resource.



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This became an important tool to understand the reason of existence of various inventions that we have today and understanding their existence at the first place. Comparing the history with the present, reinforces beliefs about how consumption driven world / consumption economy helps in reinforcing certain variables and understanding of human interaction with resources.

History of how consumption economy grew is a marker of how

our cultures evolved with materials!


Initial provocation was to understand what impact have humans created. In order to study the impact of anthropocene, I mapped a timeline of how humans have impacted the production and consumption of resources on this planet. As a result a timeline emerged which talks about 'what has anthropocene given us?' 




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Loads of plastic waste dumped in Pirana (left) and ​a fallen old tree in Ahmedabad after a thunderstorm (impact of climate change)


The chart represents how the Novelty of inventions sidelined the the impact it caused to the environment. Consequently, it has only grown over the past 100 years. The amount of inventions that have completely changed how humans live today (vaccine, steam engine, artificial supply of water, light bulb only to name a few) have evolved the definition of 'waste' for cultures who are born in an abundance of these resources. This imbalance of resources is what creates 'waste'.

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Life cycle of a resource, including upstream and downstream and further segregated into multiple milestones. 

The yellow post-its are opportunities identified within these various steps.


Through primary research with the environment committee at NID, we understood the types of wastes that are generated at the consumer level in an institute (here, NID). We collected waste and understood the sources of waste are being produced at the first place. This preliminary exercise helped us understand segregation of waste.

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Mixed waste sent out from the National Institute of Design (NID)

A pilot project on waste collection and segregation to understand consumption habits of  the institute



We visited NEPRA (a registered waste-management and recycling partner for AMC in  playing an important role in in zero waste Ahmedabad goal).


NEPRA takes downstream waste
1. Directly from consumers

2. Existing waste from Pirana dumpsite in Ahmedabad (amassing 70-80 lac tons of unsegregated waste).


NEPRA uses cutting edge technology to segregate

  • High-value recyclables such as cardboard tin cans pet bottles and then send rest of the the dry waste (dry + semi-wet) to a conveyer belt.

  • This belt passes through a team of manual labourers who segregate left-over recyclable materials like Aluminum foil, paper napkins et cetera.

  • Some plastics like HDPE, PP are segregated by-weight and further in two colours using image-recognition technology transferred to recycling partners efficiently.

  • The rest of the waste is is sent to incineration plants to generate energy for industrial purposes (RDF - Refused derived fuel)

Collection & Segregation​

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Existing waste in Pirana (usegregated)

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The quantity of waste is estimated to be 70-80 lac tons

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Segregated waste for RDF processing partners

To understand the realities of downstream cycle of waste, we visited PIRANA. We wanted to learn about AMC's waste-management plans including their partners and channels directly from waste producers / consumers to Pirana or partners to minimise leakage in the system. The diagram shows how different wastes are collected segregated and treated.

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Segregated gravel from Biomiming plant in Pirana

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Unsegregated plastics & microplastics found in gravel

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Down-stream waste cycle from producers to end-life (Click to Zoom)

How might be was used tu to convert gaps / insights from the primary research into concrete opportunity directions

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Intervention 1

Agro-waste as the resource of tomorrow

The burning of crop residue coupled with the smoke from crackers during the festive season of Diwali has resulted in long-lasting smog.

Can we realise the potential of rice-husk, rice-stubble as a new material for tomorrow instead of incinerating it?  



Few initial experiments which were done with Rice Husk and Starch obtained from boiling rice.

Experiments with Banana Fibre for longer fibres to Make Paper.

Boards & Built Environment

Forms were realised with rice husk and adhesives. At first, synthetic adhesives were used and later, natural adhesives were used for experiments.


Mycelium grows by breaking down cellulose from the substrate it grows on. Rice Husk is difficult to break down than Wheat Husk. Hence, the mycelium grows faster on Wheat Husk.

Intervention 2

Reducing disposable waste in events

INDEPENDENCE DAY '19 | National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad

As the committee, we tried to approach each event as a 'zero waste' event.

Alongside, a new system of cutlery deposit was also implemented. This ensured that no waste was generated.

As a result, we saved multiples of disposable plates, cups to be thrown out.

Intervention 3

Society of Materials -

Aiding designers

‘Society of Materials’ is a design intervention to aid and facilitate designers to design better. In the age of digitisation, we are surrounded by materials, yet we tend to ignore them. The multi-sensory experience of our spaces have a deep-rooted effect on our memory.

It provokes the audience into experiencing materials to understand their tangibility and various properties rather than experiencing them through images in books.

The facilitation would help users to develop an understanding the material culture and provide with knowledge and wisdom for ethical practice.

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