I still remember the day the last pair of Havaianas I had finally breathed their last. I was at home, thankfully, when I felt the front end of the thong part from the slipper’s sole. Having had this happen to me numerous times in the past, I had known for some time already that a lifelong relationship with Havaianas and similar flip-flops was not to be, and I had been dreading the moment this last pair, or one half of them at least, would give in.
Had I known any better, I would have learned how to repair them the DIY way and perhaps been able to grant them the gift of a second life. Instead, I dealt with them the DBO way – Done By Others – meaning I had a housekeeper “take care of them”, meaning I essentially let him do what he wanted with them, strongly encouraging him to have them repaired and not simply give them a new home to live in the form of the trash bin. To this day, I don’t know where they are, and admittedly, I could not care less anymore.
We tend to think broken things that seem beyond repair have gone the point of no return and serve no purpose other than to be left in a landfill or incinerated. But the truth is, even the lowliest piece of junk still has value – if only we look deep enough. If we truly care about sustainability, about reducing our environmental (not just carbon!) footprint, we will find ways. That is the magic of social innovation.
Some of those wizards have casted charms so effective that they have become profitable endeavors – profitable endeavors with a cause. Take Jacinto & Lirio, for example. This little but formidable social enterprise uses water hyacinths, also known as water lilies (hence, the Spanish “Jacinto” and “Lirio” – Hyacinth & Lily), as its main material. These plants are known for being rapid reproducers that, ironically, can constitute environmental hazards because they tend to clog waterways and, thus could, as an extreme potential effect, cause flooding. But J&L saw another potential in them – the potential to become a durable and stylish plant leather. Today, they sell journal sleeves and bags made of this innovation.
In fact, I did a little innovation myself. Since I’m trying to go paperless eventually, it made sense for me to use my own J&L journal sleeves for things other than notebooks. The image above is that of my passport (called Pacem, or “peace”); I kept the little notebook that came with the sleeve and turned it into my passport holder, complete with subway cards in the card holder portion behind the front cover. I also used my bigger journal sleeve (called Perseverance) as my Bible case.
But innovation doesn’t always have to be in business – though that would be awesome, seeing a whole new generation of innovations serving the needs of the world. It can, and should, begin at home, the home that is our sandbox for creations. My rememberlutions jar, for instance, is an innovation not just in idea (I credit BuzzFeed for this, they can be really awesome), but also in my choice of container, re-decorated (though I have yet to print out said decoration. :p). I’m listing three nice articles I found on the Net that could serve as an espresso shot of inspiration:
- This BuzzFeed article depicts 41 ways to reuse broken stuff – including the broken flip-flops (though I wouldn’t destroy a shirt for that purpose).
- This one, on the other hand, shows 51 ways to repurpose – that is, to find an out-of-the-box use – for everyday things at home. We commonly hear of this today as hacks, and it’s DIY innovation at its finest.
- This one shows 27 home hacks.
The point is, innovation can and will be found everywhere, even right in front of you. The phrase “the world at your fingertips” – popularized by the rise of tablets and phablets – can and should be applied to The Art of Innovation. As a daily reminder to myself, I who dreadfully lack the skills I preach and want to embody, two things:
One, even things that are considered as junk or of scrap value can be innovated on to be given a second life – creating a possibly viable product or thing as well as cleaning up our environmental footprint a little bit in the process: two birds with one stone!
Two, we are empowered to perform said innovations with a little imagination and out-of-the-box thinking, two things we should learn and be full of.