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Taking Back Values that Once Had Withered

 There is always a trail after busy modern people have passed by, such as leftover food, which was abandoned because of a tight schedule, or bouquets stacked carelessly after an event. With these things, the sweat and blood of the producer and the genuine purpose of the product are being thrown away. Some people saw this reality and wanted to preserve true value and allow it to bloom. 

 

Withering Values

  Many things are thrown away before they being able to fulfill their purposes. Because of this, the true values of many products are withering. They wither into food waste and household waste. Products whose value could bloom but now reside at the bottom of the garbage bin. Consider the below. Did you know that every year, 13 billion tons of unfinished food is thrown away?

 This quantity is equal to 1/3 of everything that is edible. And this quantity can also save eight million people suffering from poverty. Were we to put a monetary value on this waste, we’d expect a figure of around four hundred billion dollars, which is 438 trillion won in Korea money.
  Let’s look at an another statistics report. The quantity of daily household waste is over 48,000 tons. Among this, waste that goes underground accounts for 15.6%. Waste that is incinerated accounts for 25.3%. What is interesting, though, is that about 59.1% of overall household waste could be recycled but it has been thrown away. Indeed, 15.6% of our total landfill, which weighs 7,613 tons, could actually be recycled.

 We can see that much food that could be fed to billions of starving children is being thrown away. We can also see that recyclable products are being thrown away. Fortunately, there are people who realize this and want to preserve the value of these products. Thus, they transform leftover food and garbage in to art and other products. This way, the message they have for the rest of humanity can be delivered in an effective way.
 In the Book ‘Eco Creator’, written by Kim Jung Ho, such individuals  are called ‘Eco Creators’. Their most common trait is that they use products that have already been made good use to by someone else. It is in such a manner that can assert the importance of a ‘Green Environment’. 
 As these changes were being made, the idea of ‘Junk Art’ appeared.’ The Eco Creators try to criticize other art forms that don’t use scrap and modern civilization that produces scrap.
It is through the medium of such social artwork that Eco Creators are allowing the value of junk to bloom.

 

Taking Back Values

The Real Junk Food Project: Recouping the Value of Discarded Food
 The ‘The Real Junk Food Project’ blooms the value of food. This project gathers leftover food and food that has passed its use-by date and turns them into a new dish. Customers can eat food as good as new, and they are even able to order take out. The project’s founder Adam Smith wanted to prove that leftover food is still edible.

 Despite the food being what many would throw out, there have been no reports of food sickness from amongst the five million people to have been served in the 14 months of the project’s life. The cafe involved in this project operates a ‘pay what you want’ system whereby customers pay only what they feel is appropriate. As a result, the project has been gaining recognition, and more food stores are donating their surplus stocks. Blooming the value of the food itself, the project brings the value of old food to many people.

 

Food Bank: Value of Leftover Food
 The Inha Times met Incheon Dong-gu Food Bank Executive Secretary Kim Duck Hyun to ask him about how the food bank is helping people and blooming the value of food.

The Inha Times (IT) : Could you introduce the food bank to Inha students?
Kim Duck Hyun : A food bank is the intermediary between food donors and people who require donated food. Food banks accept donations from charity groups or individuals and pass the food to disadvantaged groups, such as unfed children and single elderly households. Doing so encourages the value of sharing and reduces food waste. Literally, it’s a food bank.
IT : What made you think about establishing a food bank?
Kim Duck Hyun : In 1997, unemployment and the lack of food problem was increasing. So I wanted to feed at least one unemployed person so that they wouldn’t starve. That is why I started this business.


IT : What  is the current state of food donations and people’s reactions to the food bank?
Kim Duck Hyun : Donating in Dong-gu is not very popular. Maybe this is because of the small number of factories in Dong-gu. Most of the donations go to the National Food Bank. After the food arrives there, it is divided up and a portion comes here. Most people know nothing about food banks in Korea. Even donors ask us how to donate and what exactly is it we do. Many people are desperate for one meal but there are so few donors. It is my hope that an increased awareness of food banks in Korea will lead to an increase in food donors.
IT : What kind of food is provided by a food bank?
Kim Duck Hyun : We provide mostly value-withered products, which mostly is leftover food or such that only has a few days left on its sell-by date. However, this food feeds the homeless and is essential to survival for many of them.
Food about to go in the garbage bin can become a meaningful meal thanks to a food bank. The value of one yummy meal is being recovered.

 

 Aside from food, waste takes many forms.  Such waste might lead to environment pollution. But with the transformative process that recovers and blooms its value, waste can be reborn  as another product.

MANTIS: Enhancing the Value of a Green Environment with Cigarette Butts

 Alexandra Guerrero, a Chilean designer and CEO of MANTIS, collected over 5000 cigarette butts, in Santiago City, and turned them into a vest, hat and even a dress. Her clothes soon gained recognition. ‘The Tree-hugger’ wrote about her design, “A splendid way of warning about pollution caused by scraps.” Guerrero designs are meaningful because they bloom the value of being aware of cigarette waste pollution and, at the same time, bloom a new purpose for cigarette butts.

Brilliant Memories Exhibition : Enhancing the Value of Scrapped Cars
 Every car has its story, one that is crushed when a car has outlived its usefulness. Hyundai Motors realized this and set about blooming the memory of a car and its owner into a work of an art. The company received some 18,000 stories from its customers during October 17 to November 14. 

 The work of art was displayed for three weeks from January 28, last year. Among those submitted, there were some interesting stories and memories. One part of the work was a sofa made from a 30-year-old taxi’s back seat. This signifies the comfortable rest deserved by a retired taxi driver, like the customers that he had carried throughout 30 years of driving.
 Another remarkable piece of art was made from a school bus, which had carried deaf children for 12 years. They made a screen out of the safety belts of the bus in memory of the children who had ridden the bus.
 “Making junk art and cherishing the memories in worn out cars is very impressive and brilliant,” was the general consensus of visitors. 

 

 Lastly, there is a movement for transforming disposable products in to other products and thus to turn withered value in to blooming value. Here are two examples where the value of disposable products has been recovered: ‘Touch for Good’ and the ‘FLRY Project’.

Touch for Good: Making Banners and Subway Ads Fashionable 
 ‘Upcycle’ means to reform an abandoned product in to an entirely different product. It is a portmanteau formed by combining ‘Upgrade’ and ‘Recycle’. Koreans call this ‘New Cycle’.
Touch for Good is an upcycle brand manufacturer of fashionable items, such as bags and pouches. These products are made from old banners and abandoned subway ads. The aim of Touch for Good is the remembering of unfulfilled campaign pledges and refreshing the issue of banners becoming disposable garbage after they are used. Touch for Good’s ‘Promise for 5 years’ project was and successfully finished with a 100% of participation rate. Touch for Good received ‘The Grand Prize of Environment’, in 2013, for its contribution to the environment.
Touch for Good is memorable because it blooms the value of being aware of the pollution problem and remembering old campaign promises.

 

FLRY Project: Reminding People of the True Value of Flowers
 The non-profit ‘FLRY Project’ turns disposable flowers into valuable bouquets for donation. The Inha Times met Kim Mi Ra, one of the FLRY Project’s CEOs, to get more details about this project.

The Inha Times : Could you introduce the FLRY Project to us?
Kim Mi Ra : The FLRY Project receives donated bouquets from married couples and delivers them to single/unmarried/unwed mothers and hospice units that need comfort and joy. We have delivered 1,047 bouquets, from 68 marriages, from the start to March 13.
IT : How did you start the FLRY Project?
Kim Mi Ra : I started this project with my coworker Kang Bo Ra. Ms. Bo Ra decided to start this project after seeing her mom recovering from menopause and learning about flowers and encountering them. I too was learning about flowers as a hobby. For these reasons, we started this project after seeing a similar project abroad.
IT : Who makes the bouquets and how do you pick the recipients?
Kim Mi Ra : Volunteers makes them. And we usually choose where we shall deliver the bouquets. Sometimes donors recommend places for delivery, sometimes we receive enquiries about whether we receive flowers from organizations.
IT : This project blooms the value of wasted flowers. What value did it bloom to you and other people?
Kim Mi Ra : The project delivers not only flowers but happiness to people, blooming the value of the joy and mental comfort that flowers give, especially those used in the wedding ceremonies.

IT : Do you have any future goals you want to achieve with the FLRY Project?
Kim Mi Ra : This project is small and personal. Now, however, we have had nearly 1000 volunteers and donors. Sometimes volunteers wish that the FLRY Project could run until their wedding day. I want this project to keep going for another 10 or 20 years and to spread to more locations. To make this happen, I think ensuring a reliable operating revenue is essential.


IT : Are there any other projects that you are planning to do?
Kim Mi Ra : Currently, only a bride and groom can be donors. It is not surprising that marriages use more flowers than other places, but I want to receive donations from other people and make them feel involved in the project. Thus, we are currently planning a new launch in May. The new launch “FLRY&U” (tentatively named) will help us bloom the value and joy of flowers. After the launch, when someone presents or buys a flower subscription through FLRY, these requests will be gathered and matched regarding their needs. For example, let us say that FLRY receives a request for a flower decoration for the wedding of a couple with disabilities; if about 200 people buy flowers for this wedding then FLRY can  proceed with this request. Also, we can deliver flowers with the donor’s name.

 

 There is a new wave of taking back value that might have withered away. Once used and now abandoned, or thrown away, more and more value is being recovered in the discarded Indeed, trying to taking back the value of our waste can be a desirable choice for us to take, too.

조수진  chosujin96@naver.com

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