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Introduction

Waste for Life is a loosely joined network of scientists, engineers, educators, architects, artists, designers, and cooperatives who work together to develop poverty-reducing solutions to specific ecological problems. We use scientific knowledge and low-threshold/high-impact technologies to add value to resources that are commonly considered harmful or without worth, but are often the source of livelihood for society’s poorest members. Our twin goals are to reduce the damaging environmental impact of non-recycled plastic waste products and to promote self-sufficiency and economic security for at-risk populations who depend upon waste to survive. We, ourselves, are not interested in profit, but are keen to disseminate a technology that upgrades waste plastic bags and natural fibers into composite materials for use in domestic products and building materials.
Waste for Life Lesotho began in the summer of 2006 and Waste for Life Argentina began one year later in July 2007. Our work is supported by teams from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Industrial, Argentina; Queens University in Kingston, Ontario; the University of Naples, Italy; the University of Western Australia in Perth; the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, and dozens of individuals who share our commitment to find innovative ways of challenging the social and ecological injustices that are so often the fallout of the tight connections between state and market in mass industrial economies.