Dutch engineers Maarten Heijitjes and Simon Akkaya, whose company motto is ‘we like stuff, but we like people better’ have created what is essentially a rubbish bag loaded with social responsibility. The Goedzak (which, as one word, means ‘kind soul’ or as two, ‘good bag’) is a specially designed bag in which you can put unwanted items that are still useable and leave on the roadside for someone else to re-home. They say: ‘It’s a friendly way to offer products a second chance and stimulate sustainable behaviour’. In September last year (2012), they launched 50,000 bags onto the streets of Amsterdam and haven’t looked back since.
I love this idea and the altruistic concept behind it and was keen to find out more. Here’s what Maarten had to say …
Tell me about yourselves and the Goedzak?
Waarmakers Ontwerpers is a small Amsterdam-based design bureau. Our interest lies in the social and behavioural aspects of design. How does a product affect the user, what influence does it exert, and does this in turn affect his or her context (society)? We design with an intended impact on a users’ social behaviour.
Goedzak is a very clear example of our approach. The start of this project was in fact: Can we design a product that stimulates pro-social behaviour?
Where are you now?
We’re collaborating with a second-hand store franchise and launching a pilot project somewhere in the Netherlands this spring, which is pretty awesome. Over the last couple of months the Goedzak exploded on social media, twitter and blogs. The amount of positive reactions and requests from all over the world has been overwhelming to say the least.
Where do you see Goedzak in the future?
We believe that Goedzak should be available to anyone anywhere, and we’re committed to make this a reality. Goedzak should be adopted in ‘official’ waste-management systems everywhere and become a household name.
For this project to be adopted by communities it is necessary that councils, governmental organisations and waste-disposal companies are on board and work together. Practical, logistical, legal issues etc need to be worked out, tailor-made to the specific location of implementation. We have several scenario’s ready for implementation in different environments. More importantly, integrating the Goedzak into waste-management systems, endorsed by large institutes such as governmental organisations, will eventually have the largest impact.
How can others help?
The route through councils and governments is not an easy one, and one needs to know the right people. We’re well aware that within our network billionaires and high-placed officials are a bit under-represented.
This is where we could use your help. We are looking for governmental officials in decision-making positions (or people connected to those), who are inspired by this project and that want to join forces to bring the Goedzak to their community, city or even country. If you can help us out, let us know!
Where can I get one?
Working on it! We’re not there yet, unfortunately. But like I said, if you can speed up the process by introducing us to the right people near you, please do!
What happens with the items no-one takes?
Ideally, of course, we want as many of the products from the Goedzak to be used for as long as possible. This means, for example, that articles not picked up by passers-by end up at a second-hand store, where they will be sold, or, if no longer useable, sorted and recycled (this is how we arranged it in our first pilot project). We’re working on an app right now to make the logistics around picking up the bags efficient enough so that even smaller second-hand stores can arrange it themselves.
We don’t have rubbish bags where I live so how would it work?
Waste-management differs greatly between countries and cities and for each location a different configuration of collaborating parties is necessary. Luckily we’ve been working on this project for quite a while, so I’m pretty sure that we have an alternative scenario for any location.
What’s in it for you guys?
The project has already opened a lot of doors, and has given us the opportunity to meet a lot of inspiring people. Hopefully this will remain the same in the coming months, but our main focus is getting as much Goedzakken (Dutch plural for Goedzak) on the streets as possible. From a designer’s point of view it’s an example of a different approach to design, a more social one. Making this a success can only inspire others to take the same route. Using a Goedzak means thinking about others around you and we’d like to see and do more of that.
Here, here! And so, if you want to get in touch with Maarten and Simon and/or maybe you even know of people in high places where you live that could help get this project off the ground in your city, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.