01.

SECOND LIFE BACK-TOTE

ACADEMIC PROJECT

FULL SEMESTER

In teams, we were tasked with designing and producing “housewares” products, based on ethnographic style research, that must strike a balance between the needs of potential users, the demands of small-run production, the constraints of a limited materials budget of $100, and the considerations for addressing sustainability. The end goal resulted in the production and sale of 10 produced products, all produced under $100 total, per team. This project was in collaboration with Mae Welty.

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RESEARCH

Ethnographic, observational style research was performed by classmates* and passed on for us to design with. Their research insights, on the topic of bringing home groceries, indicated that almost 90% of all groceries are brought home in plastic bags. 

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*Research insights provided by Sabrina Young and Calvin Dolatowski

IDEATION

Based on this research, we felt we had two options: find an alternative to plastic bags or embrace the consumption of bags and find a life for them beyond the waste that they might create.

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CONCEPT FINALIZATION

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Every day, thousands of plastic bags come home from the grocery store and end up in the trash. Second Life Back-Tote offers a solution to this problem by repurposing used grocery bags into a high quality, hand-crafted, reusable bag. With its convertible strap configurations (tote and backpack), Second life encourages sustainable methods of transportation, such as walking or riding your bike to go shopping. 

PRODUCTION

Second Life is made by fusing plastic bags together into sheets, sewing the sheets into the bag pattern and sewing nylon straps onto the hem lines. The leather straps and components were etched and cut using a laser cutter. Assembly required hand hole punching and hammering grommets into place.

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FINAL PRODUCT AND SALES

This product is unique because of its multiple uses, as well as its material story. We believe that Second Life embraces the reuse of unconventional materials while maintaining an interesting aesthetic for housewares products. We aimed to show how sustainability can be functional and nice to look at. Our product was sold at our student winter market for $35, and we profited $315 which went towards IDSA and a local charity.

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