See the Latest in Sustainable Home Design from the No Waste Challenge Winners

published Jul 22, 2021
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For the third year in a row, IKEA Foundation and What Design Can Do have partnered to find the latest in sustainable design through their “No Waste Challenge” contest.

“Through rethinking our relationship with waste, we’ve also started redefining our relationship with design,” WDCD founder Richard Van Der Laken said in a July 15 video announcing the winners. “We are looking at ways it can be restorative and regenerative instead of only productive, or even destructive.”

Out of 1,409 original submissions and 85 nominees, WDCD picked 16 winners — leaders in sustainable innovation and design for all aspects of living, from low-cost pads and tampons made from pineapple and corn husk waste, to a hydroponic system that turns waste water into greenery, to a fully biodegradable casket. And here are the sustainable picks related to home:

Clay Speakers

Mapu Speakers combine the worlds of crafts and electronics. The sound system is made of clay, wood, cork, and wool and is locally produced in traditional rural trade workshops that support “a new generation of potters through heritage-led-innovation,” according to WDCD.

Biomaterial Decor

Radial, a biotech startup, transforms agricultural waste into carbon neutral materials that provide an alternative to styrofoam, MDF, and animal or plastic leather. The material can even be used to form a planter, bowl, lampshade, or desk organizer.

Recycled Wood Furnishings

Dapoda: Design Living Lab takes the wood leftover from urban tree pruning in Brazil and analyses its condition and potential uses for it — including creating home furnishings, decor, and toys. Otherwise, that wood often ends up in landfills or is burnt for fuel production.

Pineapple Plant Decor

The Mexico-based company Sustrato also creates new goods out of recyclable biomaterials — this time, out of pineapple production materials. In the pineapple industry, the fruit is the only profitable product. Approximately 80 percent of the actual plant, the pineapple plant leaves, are thrown away. Sustrato instead creates rope and felt materials out of the unused leaves — including wall art.

Ceramic Bricks

PFAS, Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are contaminant synthetic substances found in soil and water (and therefore, in animals and people). ​Claybens’ PACKING UP PFAS project both eliminates that substance and creates a new, usable one in the form of bricks. By heating the (clay) soil up to 900 degrees Celsius, the pollutants are destroyed while creating a clean ceramic material.


Recycled Construction Material

LeafyLife also creates building materials. The Kenya-based winner converts used diapers — of which there are 4.5 billion each year, globally and 800 million in Kenya — to plastic using a low-energy, low-water process. The plastic can be used to create tiles and tabletops.

Carbon Tile

Another sustainable tile production project is Carbon Tile, a tile startup by Carbon Craft Design, that creates beautiful, sustainable tiles in shades of black, gray, and white out of a form of incinerated carbon called carbon black.

Credit: Know

Sustainable Living Lab

If you’re a resident of Japan and looking to dabble in a completely sustainable lifestyle but can’t make the total commitment at home, you could soon spend time in the the “R Living Lab,” a shared, experimental living, coworking, and event space, hosted by the Japanese company Know. The flex space is built with sustainable materials and equipped with tools for a sustainable lifestyle.

Home Repair Network

And finally, seeks to make home repairs easier, make household items last longer, and to make disposal of the items that must go safer. Located in Buenos Aires, the app aims to create an open and collaborative directory of local repair experts and will promote and provide information safe means of disposal within the city. 

From here, contest winners will recieve €10,000 in funding and can enter a special mentorship, bootcamp, and development program to help propel their projects through 2022. To learn more about the original entries and all 16 winners, visit the No Waste Challenge website.

Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly said WDCD partners with IKEA for this contest. The contest is actually sponsored by IKEA Foundation, a separate legal entity. We’ve updated it to be more accurate.