Evanna Lyons, from Meath, and Alexis Cronin [above on couch – brother of the ‘sheet’s Olga], from Cork, have founded an upcycling initiative in Arusha, Tanzania.
Evanna and Alexis convert plastic bottles and bags into furniture – then funnel some of the profits back into the community.
Darragh Murphy, in today’s Irish Times, reports:
Dunia Designs pays teams of workers to clean discarded plastic bottles and bags they collect in the thronged city’s townships and incorporate them into hard and soft furnishings. And then they give away their profits.
It sounds good, if aesthetically problematic. Walking into the Dunia Designs workshop in Arusha’s Ilboru quarter (after a death-defying ride on a “picky picky” motorcycle), I expect to find uninviting objects of austere minimalism.
Not so. The company’s founders, Evanna Lyons and Alexis Cronin, wanted to make furniture they would buy themselves. “That was our whole aim all along,” says Lyons, a psychotherapist from Meath who also works in the local hospital. “It had to be impossible to tell it from any other furniture. And nobody believes it until you sit on it.”
I ask to see some samples – and am informed they are all around me, and indeed under my backside. Most of the furniture is made using upcycled plastic, local fabrics and frames made of “greenwood” (processed street waste made into planks as durable as any wood).
… In the teeming, chaotic, rutted streets around Ilboru, there are several schools, but they don’t come free. Lyons and Cronin want to spend half of their Dunia profits sending as many children to school as they can afford – currently three in primary, five in secondary and five in tertiary education.
… Eleven months on, and they are making pool tables, looking into making bricks out of shredded plastic and are about to supply furniture to Fumba Town, a new eco-city in Zanzibar.
Once completed, Fumba Town eco-city will comprise 1,500 houses, plus apartment blocks, hotels and restaurants on the semi-autonomous archipelago, which is particularly plagued by plastic refuse.