Words by Tess Becker
In the fight to reduce waste and lessen the impacts of pollution, people are starting to get creative, working to find ways to get the trash out of the system entirely. Some have sought out biodegradable options like paper straws and plastic alternatives while others are attempting to make use of the stuff already in the waste loop.
One company attempting to make use of the waste already in the system is Ecogensus.
Ecogensus was founded by Bjornulf Ostvik and is focused on sustainable waste methods with the goal of improving public health and the environment. Bjornulf is all about eliminating waste and dumps and working to change not only in his direct vicinity but the planet.
“I've been interested in and committed to the environment and nature since I was a child,” Bjornulf tells Smiley News. “And as I became an adult, I was interested in the resource challenge that we were facing. I approached it originally from an energy standpoint, but then it became broader in things like materials and natural resources.”
Basically, what Ecogensus does is take waste, like old lumber, out of the waste system and repurpose it into new things like furniture, or even building materials.
“The world is producing now, over 2 billion tonnes a year of municipal solid waste,” Bjornulf says. “It's a carbon-rich material, you can do so much with it.”
And he found that there was already decent infrastructure in place, he just wanted to add to it.
“Most of the world has some sort of collections infrastructure to move it around,” he says. “So ironically, you can move it around the problem was just at the end of it, it was just ending up in a hole in the ground and I said, there must be a better way to work with this.”
Ecogensus stands for ‘ecologically generating sustainable resources’ and that’s just what they do, essentially breaking down the carbon in raw waste material and making it into something as simple as a brick, or something as intricate as luxury furniture.
The latter comes through their brand, House of Ecologie.
“[House of Ecologie is] the epitome of what you can do with waste, which I would almost say the project found me more than I found it,” Bjornulf says.“I didn't set out to do what House of Ecologie was I really just set out to change the way people think about garbage.”
He then took the opportunity with the furniture line to change people’s opinions.
“I thought, what could what better way to actually truly get people to see the opportunity that waste has than to actually create something that is a luxury piece that people want and are willing to pay for and can't even tell it's garbage?”
Bjornulf has always been interested in all types of environmental work as mentioned before, but he essentially started working with waste since he felt that it wasn’t getting the right spotlight.
“I almost felt like at a global leadership level waste was just being overlooked in a significant way,” he says. “It wasn't receiving the same level of attention as other things, even though everyone recognized it was just as big a problem if not bigger. I mean, a lot of people are shocked to learn that landfills are one of the top three methane-producing sources in the world.”
So he wanted to help change that entire system.
“So I said, this commands my attention, and so I just found myself paying more and more and more attention to it until it became my only focus.”
Find out more about Ecogensus on its website.
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
Beacon Food Forest. This is one of the largest food forests in the country. Find out more and support them here.
Cultural Survival. They are an indigenous-led nonprofit focused on empowering indigenous Americans and helping the planet. Find out more.
American Forests. A conservation organization focused on preserving and protecting American forests. Support them here.