When looking for topics for the blog, I sometimes stumble upon topics (i love me some social media) that are pretty awesome. And I love when I get the chance to interview youngsters who are doing a great thing on their own. Yes, today Your Own Boss, is storytelling again with two 24 year olds. They are industrial product designers. They mind be young, but they have some serious passion for their business. They popped up on my Facebook feed and I was truly impressed with their idea of making new products from recycled plastic. I sent them an message and met up with them for an interview. It was a short one this time, but I got a lot of information. So, let's get into it.
What is Limpi and what is the meaning of Limpi?
Debrah: Limpi is a project that we started to make new products from plastic waste. Limpi means clean in our native language Papiamentu. We both studied industrial product design and wanted toto express our creativity making our own products using the recycle method. We don't want to be stuck in making just one kind of product, but different types.
Mitchell: The meaning behind the project is to help Curacao become a cleaner island. Letting the people of the island help us gather plastic waste for us to make new products from them.
How and when did you come up with the idea to start with this project?
Debrah: In 2016 we were finishing up our studies and we were thinking what are we going to do when we graduate. Stay in the Netherlands and look for a job or go back to Curacao and do something creative.
Mitchell: Two years ago, we came to Curacao for a 6-weeks vacation and we rented a jeep and went off road. And it was unimaginable to see so much plastic waste laying around or that washes in by the sea. And it was such a shame, as we know a lot about plastic because of our studies. Debrah then came up with the idea to do something about it.
Debrah: Yes, the idea was to make products from the plastic waste. Then there was, Precious Plastic, an open source website, where you can find how to build those machines to recycle plastic. First, I was worried about it. Thought now my idea isn't unique and other people will do the same thing. But actually that website helped us a lot, because we didn't have to reinvent the wheel. After we graduated we started to build the machines and making plans for the project. In 3 months time we finished up two machines in the Netherlands and sent these to Curacao.
Mitchel: We're still working on the machines and finding out what is the best thing to do. We're still in the testing phase, but at the same time we are working to get the word out about the project.
Where do you get the plastic waste?
Mitchell: There's a place called St. Joris Bay and there is where we get lots of plastic waste. The first time we went, we got over 7 bags of plastic waste and that is what we are using now. Besides our own waste we have at home, we also got several plastic chlorine bottles. Because as we still have a small oven and still testing the whole process, we don't need a lot of plastic yet.
Debrah: One item can take us like two hours to make. But when we get a bigger oven, we can make 3 to 4 items at the same time. And then we'll need more plastic.
Mitchell: Last weekend we helped with Curadoet (ed. an organization on the island that yearly invites volunteers to help other on the islands with projects) by cleaning. We managed to get two trash bags full of plastic we can use. That was enough, as we can't take too much yet. It was a bit overwhelming how many trash bags there were after they cleaned up. All of the bags will go to Landfill, which actually is a pity as they're so many things you can make with the waste. The sad part is that a lot does washed ashore from other islands around us. And Curacao can't do much about that.
What kind of products have you already made?
Debrah: As we are still in a testing process, as we said, we don't have lots of products. We made table tops, lampshades and someone wanted some fishes for her art projects. We have to make several molds to see what works best for the products.
What would you like to achieve within a year?
Debrah: To have a smoother process for the product-line and that we can make an impact on the island with recycling plastic waste on the island.
Mitchell: Also to work with others that are interested in this project. To help the people understand not to waste the plastic, but that we can make great things from it.
Debrah: In the future I hope to be able to buy plastic that is given by others to us. In a product factory you would have to buy raw plastic to make the products. So why not do the same here. But instead of buying raw plastic, we would pay the people who would bring used plastic to us. So, we can calculate how many goes in a product for us to sell it. Which brings us back to how much money can we give back. It will also motivate people to divide their plastics and that we can do something with it.
What advice can you give to others who would like to do something for the environment of Curacao?
Mitchell: As we said in our video 'Don't wait for the change, be the change'. Begin with yourself. Start small.
Debrah: Don't be afraid to try something new. Just do it and go for it.
Beside working on their project of making recycled products of plastic waste, they also make products with their 3D printer. They made those pineapple plant pots and magnets in the shape of Curaçao. I think they are going to have a great year, with lots of people wanting to join them in their project. And if you have any great ideas for them to design for you with their 3D printer or recycled plastic, they are ready to sit with you.
Thank you Mitchell & Debrah for a very inspiring interview and I'm wishing you all the best with your new business venture.
For more information about Limpi, please see video below or click on the following: