Situated high in the mountains with limited waste management facilities, the Khumbu region suffers from the accumulation of waste left behind. Seeking an innovative solution to showcase different ways in which waste can be repurposed in the Everest region, Sagarmatha Next reached out to Super Local, a design studio based in the Netherlands. In 2018, Sagarmatha Next and Super Local started a collaborative journey to design the first set of products for Sagarmatha Next. Super Local is known for its commitment to inclusive design and is founded on the principle that well-designed products and services should be available to everyone. By embracing human-centered design, Super Local aims to serve the socio-economic and environmental needs of the people they design for. Their previous projects highlight their commitment to global social and environmental issues. From a research study to improve the medication packaging system in Nepal, repurposing spare parts of European cars to build playgrounds in Malawi, and setting up workshops to upcycle glass waste in Zanzibar.

To explain their approach, Luc Van Hoeckel shares that “as designers, we often focus on creating technical and aesthetically pleasing products without necessarily considering the real needs of people. But by shifting our mindset towards social design and human-centered design, we begin to truly grasp the needs of people and the communities we aim to serve. The world doesn’t need more products. Instead, we need to focus on what are the needs of the people that we’re designing for.”

By leveraging Super Local’s expertise in social and human-centered design, our partnership seeks to minimize the environmental impact of tourism waste in the Everest region by converting plastic waste into upcycled souvenirs and reducing the pressure of waste pollution in the Khumbu region and its surrounding communities.

Waste to Product initiative: repurposing of HDPE bottle caps in the Everest region

Waste to Product is a Sagarmatha Next initiative to convert waste from the Everest region into upcycled high-quality products. In our efforts, we have found innovative ways to repurpose HDPE plastic bottle caps that often go overlooked in the waste management process.

Super Local team, during their research, discovered that on the Everest Base Camp trek a typical hiker drinks about 38 bottles of water. Unlike water bottles, HDPE bottle caps fail to find their way into industrial recycling facilities. To address this, we established a plastic upcycling workshop at moware lab in Kathmandu where the collected HDPE bottle caps from the Himalayas are transformed into upcycled products.

With meticulous care, the bottle caps are skillfully upcycled into souvenirs by the moware design team in Kathmandu. The souvenirs are bought by visitors of the national park as beautiful reminders of their one-life time travel. The repurposing of plastic bottle caps this way brings new life to the waste that would otherwise be discarded or left to pollute the Himalayas.
Super Local and collaboration with the women-led moware team at the moware lab

At the moware lab located in Kathmandu, there is a convergence of creativity, craftsmanship, and environmental consciousness. Super Local team conducted a training program with the local team of moware design to transfer the know-how of upcycling waste.

Luc expresses “Nepal possesses diverse crafts, such as woodcraft, ceramics, and textiles. However, working with plastic is akin to exploring a new craft. Previously, plastic was primarily associated with industrial processes. But through upcycling, where plastic caps are carefully cleaned, melted, injected, and enhanced with additional new elements, it becomes a craft in its own right.”

During the workshops, the women at moware design were trained in the upcycling process. By elevating waste into meticulously crafted products, they are also inspired to reimagine waste as a resource with untapped potential.

Moware lab host training workshop for anyone interested in learning the upcycling process and make their own product. Please get in touch if you would like to book a spot.

"From the Himalayas" collection
The “From the Himalayas” collection consists of the Himalayan Model and three Himalayan stones.
The Himalayan Model is a scale model of the Himalayan mountain range featuring the most iconic peaks of the Everest region. Each model is made of 36 HDPE bottle caps, the exact amount of bottle caps waste left by each tourist visiting the national park.

The Himalayan stones are inspired by the mani stones that one can find along the trekking trails in the Khumbu region. Many visitors at the Sagarmatha National Park take a little stone as a reminder of the trip, which is discouraged. Every stone belongs in nature! With the Himalayan stones, we offer people the opportunity of taking a stone back home as a memory, but one made from the plastic that was once taken up to the mountains. This way visitors have a beautiful reminder of their trip while contributing to clean up their own waste.

The stones come in vibrant colours and are named after three passes of the Khumbu region – Renjo-La Pass, Cho-La Pass, and Kongma-La Pass and are made of 8, 10, and 17 bottle caps respectively.

“From the Himalayas” product line is a reminder of Khumbu’s breathtaking landscape and journey. By owning these products, you become a part of the movement to preserve and protect the pristine beauty of the Sagarmatha Region.

Get your order here.

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