After finishing my engineering degree, I wasn’t motivated to find work because I didn’t really like the way that society was progressing without accounting for all the negative effects.
What I wanted to do was work that improved our way of living and also made a positive impact on the environment, and at that time there was very little going on that was focused on sustainability.
I found a job that I thought was making a positive impact and would be exciting to work at. At this factory, household and industrial waste was burnt for electricity and city heating. The job was great, but seeing the constant stream of trucks dumping their load made me realise the huge amount of waste we are creating and I realised this isn’t the answer. This system wastes resources and puts CO2 in the atmosphere. I realised that somehow our system needs to change to stop creating so much waste.
I read a book called ‘Cradle to Cradle’ and this changed my whole perspective, and gave me an optimistic vision that I had been looking for for a long time. With these principles we could make products and processes that are healthy, continuously reuses resources and actually regenerate natural eco systems.
I decided to quit my job and develop a process that created value from a resource that was being wasted. Moving to New Zealand to carry out this endeavour, it was clear from doing some research and looking around that construction waste was plentiful and this would be a good starting point. Looking in the bins on construction site, there was a lot of plasterboard offcuts and I decided to focus on this material.
I started on what would be a long road to achieving my goal of increasing value of a waste stream. I made equipment from kitchen appliances and other random products, and after about a year of experimenting, testing, hardly sleeping and nearly blowing up the house I had succeeded in transforming the wasted material back into a useful resource that could be used to make products.
My partner and I moved back to Europe and I discovered that plaster was being thrown away here too. Actually much more of it! I started designing a product so that there would be a market for the material that would make it worthwhile putting it through this new process.
Again this started another painfully long and hard journey to achieving a finished product that people would want to buy. The result was the first products, the Archy light pendants.
Now that the products are on the market its very rewarding to hear people getting a lot of satisfaction and joy from purchasing the products that took so much time and effort to develop.