2007 According to Paula Alvarado: The Greening of Buenos Aires


The other posts in this series can be found here. The first one with an explanation of what this is about is here.
Paula Alvarado, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Thinking about environmentalism and ecology in a country with so many problems like Argentina is hard. So when I started writing for TreeHugger I often focused on Brazil, which is much more developed in the matters of eco-design and sustainability. But this past year I was so pleased to find myself writing more and more about Buenos Aires.

One of the main trends I see in the products and initiatives coming from here are the use of recovered materials. Whether because of the lack of materials or an aim for investigation, designers like Martin Churba, Ana Walsh, Carolina Spago, Marina Gryciuk and Tota Reciclados, just to name a few, have been experimenting with used garments and industrial waste.I've also noticed that people in general have been adopting green choices not so much to save the planet than to save money: the use of CFLs and the cars conversion to CNG are way extended in the city and suburbs. Maybe we'd love to see them doing these things consciously for the environment, but I guess it's just good to see them doing them, period.

Another trend I found is the social profile of some initiatives. The poverty indicators after the 2001 economic crisis are really scary, so some designers have found a way to help the unemployed by developing design systems they can adopt and use to work (see Mu Studio, Eloisa Cartonera).

Finally -and I guess as an evolution from these trends-, in the last year we found some interesting projects that have a conscious approach to sustainability. From simple products like Vacavaliente's or Cargabags', to inventions like the winners of the national Innovar contest Nexo Car, BCK Solar and Ustatic wall grass, and the high performance stove, show that there's a place to think about sustainability here.

The end of the year was even more exciting: we had our first eco-design exhibition inside Design Connection, a "Save energy" campaign from the National Government and a recycling system being developed by the city government. All of them are still rough, but a significant start point.

We're still far behind in the hybrids and electric cars affair, and also in the solar energy business; but we did have some starters in wind energy in Patagonia and Biofuel.

Let's hope 2007 brings so much more green to the south of the world.