Make Stuff, Do Good — first steps

Where to start?

Roughly a few hundred ideas have crossed my mind since I have decided to start this project. But I’m a practical person and I know I can’t tackle every single one of them at the same time, so I started with the stuff I can do from the other side of the world. And being a digital designer, well… of course, my first thought was to buy a domain.

Doing some research, taking some decisions

I know absolutely nothing about plastic apart from the fact that it’s basically everywhere and we’re trying to have less.

I will start with two machines: shredder and extrusion machine

There are four machines available, you can either make them or get them done by someone using the open source blueprint available on

  • I can start making things immediately, even without a mold
  • It makes a nicely blended solid colour rather than a multicolor output, which is more in line with my taste and I can have more control over it
  • with the right nozzle, it makes filaments that can be used to load a cheap 3d printer

Make or build?

I have decided to buy the machines form Opolab, the Precious Plastic workshop in Porto. It’s close enough and they have made quite a few of them. I will need to order them a month in advance, during which I will mst likely set up the workspace. The total cost will be around €2500, so this will be my biggest investment.

Setting up a workshop

The other big investment will be the workspace. To start, I will look for a small, cheap space where I can start experimenting and getting used to the machines, the material, and the process. What I need is:

  • a location where I can be noisy
  • access to a bathroom
  • enough space to fit 2 machines, a shelf for the raw material, a work table and some bag to store, wash and sort the pre-shredded plastic
  • internet

Learning from other people

Since I’m going to Thailand next, I will visit the workshops in Bangkok (Precious Plastic Bangkok), and Chiang Mai (BOPE). I’m also visiting Myanmar so I could see Chu Chu in Yangon. Once I’m back in Europe I will definitely pay a visit to Opolab in Porto and probably try to get an interview with the guys who founded Happenstance, the now-closed workshop in London. These are all cities I was planning to visit anyway, so that will work nicely and should give me some good insight before I make some more substantial investment.

An alternative path

I realized that Precious Plastic has won a €300.000 award and they are putting together a team to scale up. Incidentally, they are also looking for a UI designer to collaborate with a UX designer and a developer, so… of course I applied because why not!



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