Waste Not Want Not

May 01, 2017

Brittanywhitmore Hs2 Edit By Brittany Whitmore

It has been only a few short weeks since I began working with the Print The Future team, and I am incredibly excited about the capabilities of and vision for this technology. I have a great passion for working with future-shaping technologies that will define how we live and operate. What is even more amazing - and perhaps a bit jarring is the rate of technological advancement that we are experiencing. It seems to be accelerating, one revolution just gives way to another.

I spent three years handling marketing communications for a startup software company focused on making procurement more efficient and streamlined for businesses. Most businesses that we encountered had antiquated, paper-based, spreadsheet-managed processes. So even just the simple concept of digitizing this process was revolutionary. The analog became the digital.

But now, seeing Print The Future generating functional, modern furniture and other items in a matter of hours, designed to meet any and all requirements right out of the box - really throws what I knew about innovation in logistics and procurement right out of the window. Instead of making the ordering and tracking process easier - we can almost eliminate it entirely.

Print the Future will revolutionize how we think about, make, use, buy, and dispose of stuff.

When searching for a particular item to purchase - let’s say a chair, there are a number of factors to consider: style, price, availability… And all too often, the item that I want is not available, going to take weeks to arrive, and cost a fortune in shipping fees. Or sometimes I am simply not satisfied with any of the available options. A lot of time and energy is wasted on this search, and sometimes the item is never even selected and purchased. I am sure that I am not unique in this respect.

If items can be designed with the ideal functionality in mind, not only is a great deal of time saved on the sourcing process, but efficiencies are achieved by reducing the chance that an item will be underutilized. The item can incorporate unique specifications such as safety features, ergonomic structure, specific sizing, features for people with disabilities and more.

Print The Future enables items to be easily recycled and turned into new items as well. The service provides the ability for anyone to simply re-imagine and re-manufacture a new item from the same materials, with no waste. I believe that this idea is revolutionary and will be vital, if we wish to decrease the amount of solid waste on the earth.

According to a Research and Markets report, the cost of global solid waste management market will increase to $1296.04 billion in 2022. This is due to increasing globalization and growing populations worldwide. The cost for managing solid waste is likely to continue to increase, especially in lower and middle income countries.

As humans, we have continuously changed the world around us to adapt to our needs and desires: domesticating animals, clearing areas of land for cities, and redirecting bodies of water to produce energy. I do not see this trend diminishing anytime soon. So the real question is, how can we remain masters of our environment in a more sustainable way?

Print The Future is part of the solution. We can now fashion household items to suit our particular tastes at any given moment, without creating additional waste. Recycle an old table to create a chair, recycle and upsize a chair as a child grows and materialize whatever you can imagine without putting energy and resources into shipping. Moving items from one place to another will soon be an industry of the past.

I first encountered the concept of mass-customization several years ago, and while I recognized immediately that it was going to be a key aspect of the next generation of consumer goods and services; the deeper implications did not occur to me immediately. One might think that mass-customization would be more resource-intensive than mass-production, but in fact, organizations such as Print The Future are proving that it can be much the opposite.

Waste elimination and maximum utility are capable of reducing the amount of resources that are required to create and enjoy goods, enabling items to remain useful for a longer period of time and components to never find their way into a landfill.

Print The Future to me, is a means to a cleaner, smarter and more sustainable future that doesn’t feel like a compromise, not even one bit.

Brittany Whitmore is a public relations professional and the founder of Exvera Communications. She is also the founder and executive director of TEDxGastownWomen, a resident technology panelist on Roundhouse Radio, and a frequent emcee and speaker. Brittany was named to BC Business Magazine's Top 30 Under 30 in 2017.