Off the wall Autumn 2014

Can Currency

‘Waste as a resource’ is quickly becoming the mantra for the waste industry in the UK, but ‘waste as legal tender’ could soon be a popular concept with Swedish teens. McDonald’s restaurants in Stockholm are now allowing customers to pay for food with empty drinks cans, with each worth one kronor. Penniless people of all ages can now adopt a litter-picking lifestyle, and collect cans in black bags, which they can exchange for food – 10 will get you a hamburger or cheeseburger, while 40 are required to purchase a Big Mac.

Taking pity on ‘young people with empty drinks cans and empty wallets’ while helping the environment, or hooking more customers on fast food while creaming valuable material from the municipal recycling stream? You decide.

Junking Junk Mail

We all know that unsolicited junk mail belongs in the bin, but it’s normally the intended recipient who has to go to the trouble of putting it there. In Perth, though, a postman took matters into his own hands and is now paying the price for this (dis)service. 

Kevin Ewing was finding it difficult to deliver so many circulars and packets – both addressed and unaddressed – and so hid some 5,000 of them in a shed, the boot of his car and in a waste and recycling bin. A judge recently ordered him to serve 300 hours of unpaid work in the community for the act, though some in the resources industry might be more inclined to give him a reward…

Biodegradable buildings

Image courtesy of MoMA

Living inside a giant mushroom building might sound like the stuff of children’s fairy tales, but it could soon be the stuff of contemporary architecture. 

Architect David Benjamin from New York firm The Living has found the vegetative part of mushrooms – mycelium – mixed with corn husks to be the perfect material for solid, lightweight bricks.

This article was taken from Issue 78

And he’s not alone in thinking it’s a great thing: The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has given the firm its PS1 Young Architects award and had a bio-brick tower built in the courtyard of its PS1 gallery in Queens.

“This... is the first sizeable structure to claim near-zero carbon emissions in its construction process and, beyond recycling, [is] 100 per cent compostable”, said MoMA’s Pedro Gadanho. 

Trash Bucket Challenge

Forget the Ice Bucket Challenge, in Ukraine, a much more extreme dare is catching on. The Trash Bucket Challenge sees members of the public dumping unpopular politicians into rubbish bins, where some think they belong.

Following the public binning of Vitaly Zhuravsy, author of a bill that would make protesting punishable by imprisonment, around a dozen more politicians have been stuffed into bins by people accusing them of corruption.

But, while the acts might inspire some to daydream about retribution to their own politicians, the sometimes violent public humiliations have been likened to mob rule, with Ukranian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov saying the stunts would cause Europe to turn away from ‘our victorious revolution’: “Don’t be marginal morons, follow stupid instincts and provoke crowds to mob justice”, he pleaded.