Month: June 2014

Raisa Ibrahim – Labor in Fashion

1. Introduction

What captured me the most about sustainability is the part that is most of the time forgotten: the social part of sustainability. With this I mean: the very low wages which make the children have to work for the family. There is so much hidden about this subject. And I have my question mark about the stores who says that they are doing anything about it. Because I am studying fashion, I will be focusing on the garment factories. And my main question is: “H&M is using the code of conduct, the contract says that they are not using children to work for them anymore, is this true?”
To come to the conclusion of this research question I asked myself the following questions:
1. How do the companies protect the employers against abuse?
2. How do they check this? (are there really walking people around in the factories from the companies them selves)
3. Isn’t it al a publications stunt?
4. What is happening behind the scenes that we as consumers don’t know?


2. Research

 After the collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh. There was a lot spoken about the circumstances in which the employers are working in Bangladesh. A lot of information has come out, shocking details. A documentary (exposure: Fashion Factories Undercover) came out on ITV, which is a British transmitter. This shows that young girls are being kicked, slapped, hit and called very insulting names. Young girls (13 years old) who are forced to work for at least 11 hours a day. Even with all the promises that were made, it has been proven that the children are being traumatized and abused. It has been proven asswell that the fire escaped are being padlocked and the employers that are forced to sign a contract which says they had a safety training, to make this clear: they did not have any training at all.
At this moment there 215 million children economically active. By not sending a child to school, but to work instead, a family is foregoing future income for present ones, as one educate child is likely more to earn in the future.
Parental attitudes is, therefore, very important, although it is not that easy in developing country’s. They have different kinds of values, an other way of thinking. So the parents in these poor situations need to have the fullfillment of seeing the children that go to school, but in these circumstances it is not like that. Besides that what if the western country’s just cut off child labour, what will happen to the children? Instead off making them work for 5 hours a day in better circumstances and for more money, so can they go to school besides working?
One thing about child labour legislation is that it has not been legislated under local pressure, but under international pressures and global settings.

3. Answering to the questions

H&M is aware of the fact that they can influence the fashion industry, but they say it will take a lot of time which they don’t have (they actually want it to do it faster because they feel that it is going to slow). According to H&M they give the employers the so-called “fair living wage”, this is based on the code of conduct. This means they pay the employers enough so they can make a living. But what does this mean? The wages are still low, but they are rising. But is this enough? H&M says they do not own the factories, so this means that they do not control how much money people earn working in these factories. They promote higher wages in these factories, but they cannot control any of it. There are 1946 factories where 872 suppliers make the products for H&M. So once in a while people are checking the circumstances. Which also means that the factories are being checked on whether or not the employers are getting safety training or training sessions to even work in a factory. But here is the deal, what the developing countries see as safe (sustainable) is not what the western part of the world sees as save. The same thing when it comes to the wages, what the factories see as higher wages, is on the other side of the world not so much higher as they claim.
The same counts for child labour, like they said: they check if there is child labour ‘regularly’. And if they found out child labour is being used, they will search for a solution with the families and factories so the children can go to school and the income will be compensated. If this is discovered repeatedly the contract will be ended.

4. Conclusion

What I am aware of is because of the low wages child labor exists. And because the western side of the world wanted to have more and more, there is also child labor. The second thing is that there is a lot hidden about what is really going on, for years already now.
I have spoken with unicef and for some reason they could not answer my questions (the questions that are written above).
I wanted to know what they did in co-operation with H&M, they had to check with H&M what they could say about it to me. But what they do, in co-operation with H&M, they could not answer me. Which I found very suspicious. H&M was answering the questions I have, but they were talking in circles towards me. They could not answer me straight away. So because of this they actually confirmed my own thoughts and they confirmed the films I saw in the documentary. Employers are forced to put their signature on papers that they actually had a safety training, which they did not have. And when people from companies, like H&M, come to check if there is child labor at the factories, the children are gone while they are checking. And even so the people from the companies are checking once in a while, and like they said: “they do not own the companies”. Which means in my eyes that they do not have any control over the situation. They pretend to know what is going on, but actually they know what they see.



Dia05 Dia06 Dia07

It is possible to have a green water filtering accessible for any kind of home.



With this essay we will describe and explain the possibilities to have green water filtering which is accessible in any kind of home. We believe this is a very important matter because clean water should be available for everyone. This must be and could be done in a green and sustainable way. There are a lot of solutions out there ready to be used and installed in every kind of home.

The average human uses an astonishing 4000 liters per day. The water that’s been used to produce your food is calculated with this average. That’s a lot of water and we can’t keep up this paste. Therefore designers, scientist and other researchers have developed diverged sort of systems for green water filtering. There are a lot of possibilities for consumers to have such green water filtering in their homes. 3)

The problem is that some of this systems cost a lot of money and also the costs for installing in homes is not a low budget thing. There is a design that’s called helofytenfilter. As you can see on the image below it is a big installation. We understand that this could scare people for choosing that kind of green water filtering in there own home.


But we believe that this could be a solution for companies and some industries where they using a lot of water per day. They have the money to install this design. Or it can be installed in areas around the world where there is a short supply of clean water. With the help of charities and other organizations we can provide clean water for those who aren’t that fortunate as us.


2)An other argument against alternative water containment and filtering is that the water is not a 100 percent clean. Thereby it could contain E.coli and other harmful bacteria. Water such as rainwater that’s been stored for a long time can contain these bacteria. Although rainwater is used mostly for irrigation; there is a growing interest in using rainwater for drinking and other indoor uses. Over 50 percent of household water is used indoors; bringing rain indoors could save the expense and environmental costs of treating and transporting water. 1)


A option to filter this rainwater could be a so-called dynafilter. This is a design that filters water with the help of sand. The sand in the dynafilter is adapted sand. Adapted with a substance from a wonder tree (no this is not a fairy tale). Scientist recently discovered a substance in a tree that kills harmful bacteria in water. It makes the idea for green and sustainable water filtering, accessible for every household. They abstracted it from the seeds of the wonder tree. Then they added this to the sand that’s been used by a system such as the dynafilter. The image on the left is an example of a dynafilter that can be installed in houses, office buildings and so on.

At least we all could start by installing one of these installations as the image above. It filters the water from your sink and can be used to flush the toilet, potentially saving a household up to 5,000 gallons of potable water each year.




So in the end, yes we all can have a green water filtering system build in our homes. But we need to change our mind-set. If we invest in techniques like we described in this essay, it is possible. We are getting used on the luxury to have clean water in a twist of a hand. But the process to make it that clean is not sustainable and green. We think the responsible lays by the governments and companies to convince people to invest in green water filtering. If they take that responsible we all can use clean water with a minimal damage to mother nature.







Jaap La Porte & Lisa Moll Serious Games

Jaap la Porte & Lisa Mollpdf



At the start of this project, we both started off with an interest in psychological matters concerning sustainability. How for instance a greater awareness of causality could be a basis for you to think twice about what you do and what effects it could have. A change of mind like this would alter much more than just one or two of your habits. It would become a source for you to come up with your own solutions and more sustainable habits.


Road to Serious Games

This psychological aspect interested us so we began looking for what information already existed on this subject. It turned out there was a website called It states in it’s introduction that: “The primary cause of all “environmental problems” is human behavior”. The intent of the site is to be a starting point for anyone who is interested in the subject, providing an extensive list of books and material to get you started. It also states that the psychology of sustainability itself is not yet recognized as relevant for preserving the planet.

Isabel Rimanoczy is a writer and she wanted to find out what drove people to do good for the planet or society. She thought that if she could find out what drove them, then maybe somehow she could evoke those same motivations intentionally, in other leaders. In this way she reasoned, she could create a generation of people working to preserve the planet.

Both these findings were about changing mindsets, but none of them were very practical about how to change mindsets. At this moment our research question was: How can we create a sustainable mindset in people?

With that question we stumbled upon a lecture of Joost Raessens a professor at the University of Utrecht, about how so called “serious games” could help change behavior to be amongst other things, more sustainable. It had everything we were looking for and it fitted our investigation on how to create a mindset. This was one lecture out of a series of called “Duurzaamheid als Wereldbeeld” (Sustainability as Worldview) all by different speakers.

This got us started on serious games. A term that refers to almost always online games that have a serious goal to them and aren’t just for entertainment.

There are serious games of all sorts ranging from games to help you get rid of financial debts to games enabling you to recover from injury. And thus also games to create a more sustainable behavior in people. Examples of these games are Opower, a game with which you can keep track of how much electricity you use and compete with friends on who uses the least. And Recylebank, a game where you can learn a more sustainable lifestyle and earn points to get discounts in real life.

After the discovery of serious games we changed our research question to: Of how much importance are serious games to the sustainability of our planet?

To figure out the answer to this, besides our research, we started to look for people working in the serious games industry to interview. We came up with an employee from the dutch serious games company “Ranj” and an entrepreneur within the industry, Dutch as well.

the company Serious Games who were willing to talk with us. We prepared some questions that were focused on what they thought the games did with the behavior of people and they were focused around the 3 p’s, People, Planet, Profit.



Our interviewees didn’t seem as convinced that their games really change behavior as much as we are from our research. Apart from that they do both see some growth in sustainability as a result of serious games. Our interviewees agree on serious games not being very social (our own research is in conflict with that, see our diagram). But they differ in their opinion about profit and planet. The cause of this might be the fact that Jurriaan Rijswijk is more of an entrepreneur where as Rob Nellissen is an employee.

Both do expect serious games to be of significant importance for the sustainability of our planet, but more pertaining to the future than to this very moment.

Both our opinions are really good on the new way of spreading information on a sustainable lifestyle through games. This will interest more of the younger community, which is our future that must preserve our earth. Also while you play the game you will learn without having to put in much effort, which makes it even more effective in our opinion.

Also we believe that is way of spreading is more effective because it is way easier to play a game then to read a book about a sustainable lifestyle. The games take less time to gather all the information that you need to create an opinion about it.


By Harmen Meinsma & Jessica de Troije

Can City

In São Paulo, a city with approximately 20 million residences, waste is produced on a massive scale. However, over 80% of the recycled waste is collected by an informal system of independent waste collectors known as Catadores who pull their handmade cars around the streets. Studio Swine created ‘Can City’, a project based in this Brazilian city, where a mobile foundry operates around the streets, creating a system where the Catadores’livelihoods can extend beyond the collection of rubbish. The foundry melts aluminum cans collected by the waste collectors, using waste vegetable oil collected from local cafes as fuel. The sandcasting molds and the finished pieces are all made on location, turning the street into an improvised manufacturing line. Studio Swine chose to make chairs as first line items. The idea is to produce customized and ‘cast on demand’ products, designed and produced by the Catadores themselves.





We analyzed ‘Can City’ using the 3P’s of sustainability – Planet, People and Profit – and made this visual in the diagram below. Our main finding from this diagram is that the project is really People – Profit based. The people collect the waste to eventually make something better out of it. By selling the products that they make, they get a 100% profit, because all the materials are for free. Eventually the planet will get a little bit cleaner, because all the materials are being recycled, but it is still small scaled in comparison to making a profound impact on the environment. Another question we had was: Could they also use another material for this project or could another material be used in the same kind of process as ‘Can City’?


From Aluminum to Plastic

We were very interested in finding an answer to this last question: Could another material be used in the same kind of process as ‘Can City’? In our research we found several projects and products that are using recycled materials, for example glass and paper. However, most of them were using recycled plastics. This is generally used, because plastic is easily found in our environment and it is easy reusable material. Also, plastic is a big risk for our environment, because of the plastic waste in the ocean and nature. That is why recycling this material is really popular in the Design world nowadays. A lot of designers try to find a solution for this pollution. We also recognize that plastic harms our environment. So we researched if plastic could be an alternative material in the ‘Can City’ project. However, we had our doubts about themelting process, because we were not sure if there would be any toxics released during this process.

AVK Plastics

To get an answer to the question if melting plastic is toxic, we interviewed one of the employees of a big plastic recycle company. The company, named AVK plastics, recycles 28 tons of plastic every day. It was founded by Niels Aage Kjær and is located all over the globe. They mostly make products for the water- and gas industry.

With the recycled plastics they make products such as pallets and ‘straatpotten’. These are usually made out of Polyamide (PA), Polyethylene (PE) en Polypropylene (PP). These three different plastics are mostly used for recycling, because they can be reused over and over again, and therefore perfect for recycle projects like ‘Can City’. Besides PA, PE and PP are easily found in our environment, for example in plastic caps and crates.

Sea Chair by Studio Swine

‘Sea Chair’ is another project of Studio Swine and is similarto ‘Can City’. They work together with local fishermen to recycle the plastic they fish out of the sea during their daily work. A lot of boaters throw the plastic waste back into the sea instead of taking it back to shore to recycle it. Studio Swine developed the project ‘Sea Chair’, which creates a new opportunity of earning money for the fishermen The project enables the fishermen to recycle the plastic directly from their boats, using the machine of Studio Swine, to melt the plastic and create their own products. Because Studio Swine is primarily focused on working with local communities and creating opportunities to make profits for the locals. In this way ‘Sea Chair’ is similar to ‘Can City’.


Precious Plastics by Dave Hakkens

‘Precious Plastics’ by the Dutch designer Dave Hakkens is also relatable to the ‘Can City’ project. He made three different kinds of production machines to create well designed products out of recycled plastic. However he had another purpose for his machines then Studio Swine. Only 10 % of all the plastics that are made are recycled. The majority of companies only use new and pure plastics, because the recycled plastics have a higher risk of damaging the machines they use. Hakkens has tried to search for a solution to this problem; therefore he developed machines that can handle impure and unwanted plastic. He creates beauty out of waste to make people more aware of the recycle problem.



In the beginning we thought that “Can City” by Studio Swine was about saving the planet. But when we got further in our analysis and research, we came to our conclusion that this project was more about making people aware of the problem instead of solving it. They work really close with the local community and give them a big role in their design process. The project stimulates creativity and gives people the chance to be independent. The downside to this story is that when a lot of people participate in this project, the profit will decline. However, on the upside the materials are still for free, so if one sells his product for €10 or for €0,01, it still is profit. Plus they help save the planet! All the projects that we found have a small influence on the waste stream in nature. However, in order to really save the planet we have to recycle on a much bigger scale. Boaters should recycle all the plastic they catch, on board or take it with them to the harbor. In a really short time, the oceans will get cleaner.