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Refuse Goods

Feb. 27, 2017

For the last seven years, lighting designer Brent Markee’s two sons have been honing their innovation chops through the reuse of leftover Carnegie Xorel scraps.

For lighting designer Brent Markee, the apples apparently don’t fall far from the tree. In 2010, the father of two challenged his pre-teen boys to make use of scrap materials which make up an integral part of several major manufacturers’ products, including his own Seattle-based lighting firm, Resolute. The result was a series of waterproof and durable wallets they dubbed rˉefuse Goods.

Almost seven years later, rˉefuse comprises wallets, pouches, and bags from Xorel, Carnegie’s bio-based textiles made with 65- to 85-percent sugar cane content, and waste material from Resolute Lighting and Watson Furniture. The premise is simple: While the 100-percent low-density polyethylene is fully recyclable, the process of reusing materials is much cleaner than recycling, which still requires resources to transport and convert.

The result is so much more than a small, viable accessories business. The boys have been learning important lessons on the materiality, experimentation, and innovation intrinsic to design while the importance of small businesses, renewable resources, and the benefits of reuse over recycled and virgin-component goods are brought to the forefront.

As Markee’s sons get older, it remains to be seen what part they will continue to actively play in rˉefuse, but the foundations of the creative process have already been introduced into their lives.


How to Get Involved

Of course, not every kid has access to these types of hands-on experiences, and with cutbacks to public school funding, art education is declining, and many schools lack the material resources.

Luckily, in many cities, there are volunteer opportunities that can be easily researched online, such as Art With A Heart in Indianapolis, Creative Art Works in New York, and Leap Arts in San Francisco. (i+s Editor-in-Chief Kadie Yale participated in the Leap Arts annual sandcastle contest with the firm she worked with in 2007 and said, “It was a blast.”)

If your town doesn’t have an arts program or you are unable to volunteer your time, a good option is donating unwanted materials to local schools, Boys and Girls Club, or a museum education program.

Photography courtesy of refuse Goods

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