Waste Not: Exploring Alternative Building Materials Event

On Tuesday Richard and I attended a talk and exhibition hosted by Swissnex, titled: Waste Not: Exploring Alternative Building Materials. Upon arriving, we entered into a modest exhibition space humming with designers, recyclers, and other impassioned members of the public not only mingling, but also touching, smelling, and otherwise testing the recycled materials displayed on stacked pallets. Below are a few of my favorites.

ReWall Panels – Made in the USA!

These panels composed of compressed cartons can be used as a replacement for drywall and other types of sheathing. Fire resistant, structurally empowered, and zero VOC, I see a lot of potential here!

Decafe Tiles

Made of compressed coffee grounds and a binding agent, the photos really do not do these tiles justice. They were a favorite at the exhibition, with a surface most people couldn’t resist reaching out to touch.


While simple in appearance, the textures and colors in these bricks really presented a dignified and serene product that I would love to see in a kitchen or bathroom. The bricks are recreated from crumbled up building demolition debris.

The event’s five speakers underscored the importance of rethinking waste, and set a great tone for the evening. Felix Heisel and Marta Wisnieska kicked off the lecture portion, asserting that “the future makes no distinction between waste and supply.” Philip Ross, from Mycoworks, introduced us to the magical properties of mushroom mycelium, and shared with us his fascination with creating something that was both refined and horrific. Thom Faulders, a professor at CCA, reminded us that an innovative idea sits at the intersection of “crazy” and “sensible”. Pete Rotto from San Francisco’s waste management company Recology, shared that San Francisco recycles and repurposes 80% of the city’s waste, with the goal to reach 100% by 2020. To that tune, he reminded us that they are always looking for new markets for waste.