The Story of the Man Who Started Compiling Environmentally Friendly Products

The Story of the Man Who Started Compiling Environmentally Friendly Products
Associate Professor Dr. Singha Intarashuto

Imagine one day you’re taking your trash bag–and it’s a big bag too–and you come to realize that if you combined the trash of all the people in the city, even all the people in the world, you would get a massive amount of garbage. Then you would wonder, “How would people manage this much trash?” With that question in mind, you can’t help but start to feel sorry for this world we live in. This is probably the same feeling that Professor Singha (or Associate Professor Dr. Singh Intarashuto) has when he sees trash from construction worksites having to be thrown out every day. This has led to Professor Singha, who is a professor at the Faculty of Architecture in Kasetsart University, turning his interest towards the modification of trash into works of design. As a result, many have become curious with the professor’s inspirations, as if the word of mouth surrounding this man has led to us wanting to know more about him in depth.

The concept for the Ecotopia project was first initiated by Mrs. Chadatip Chutrakul, CEO of Siam Piwat Co., Ltd, when she invited Professor Singha to help discuss and contribute to the project. Professor Singha continued to develop new concepts in conjunction with Mrs. Chutrakul until Ecotopia was finally born. In doing so, it became the first environment-oriented lifestyle destination in Asia, based in The Exploratium Siam Discovery. 

“I work in the field of environmental innovation. Those who know me tend to forget that I’m an architect; most would assume that I’m a ‘designer of garbage’. I started this whole thing because I saw that we throw away so much trash and I wanted to solve the very problem that I’ve created. With some experimentation, I ended up solving problems created by others as well. That was when I founded the company Osisu, where we crafted furniture from garbage. We get our garbage from construction sites, industrial factories and hospitals,” says Professor Singha.

We asked Professor Singha on how much attention we needed to pay to our environment in order to save the world. He answered with concern that the environment is currently in poor condition, with people being a contributing factor to its decline. This is especially the case when it comes to construction. Architectural and construction work uses up to 40% of resources but 30% of those resources end up as trash. So basically, only a third of the resources are truly put to use and there is trash to be thrown out every day. To this day, there are landfills all over the world. Simply sorting out trash has not yielded results.

It was in 2006 when Professor Singha created a phenomenon regarding “eco-friendliness” that took the country by storm. His intent was to design and teach those of the next generation, “We teach them about taking an environmentally friendly approach in designing buildings. But when it comes to taking out the trash, that’s their own responsibility. Society is focused on energy conservation. I believe that materials are the key reason that the world is being destroyed. Without materials, there’d be no architecture so I think it’s better if we focused on the problem with materials.”

But what can we regular people do to help the environment and ecology? Professor Singha had to say this, “We have to solve the problem at its root, the source of the problem. Reduce our usage and increase re-usage. If some things are reused to a certain point where they can’t be reused any longer, recycle them instead. Overseas, there are many systems that support recycling. Whoever creates trash is also responsible for taking care of it.”

Ecotopia: The most complete answer to the lifestyle of environment lovers in Asia!
Through his ambitions, Professor Singha was able to elaborate on the word “ecology”, explaining that it is a way of living life that is in accordance with the surrounding environment. For example, sunlight can be used in abundance as it is a limitless resource. Those who dye fabrics with natural materials, those who use lunchboxes or tote bags instead of plastic bags… those are the people who can be considered as eco-friendly. What first started as a project written on paper 10 years ago, in order to prove that those who paid attention to the environment and those who cared about the world still existed, would eventually become Ecotopia, the destination for eco-friendly products of all shapes and sizes. These products, numbering over 1,000, come from over 100 brands. They can all be found at the 4th floor of Siam Discovery, the Exploratorium.

“Ecotopia is the portmanteau of ‘ecology’ and ‘utopia’. It’s a city based off of products that are friendly to the environment. These products were made for the people who truly cared for this world. When you go into Ecotopia, you’ll see the happy faces of the staff. They’re happy that they’re giving something good to someone else. It’s not just about selling stuff but it’s about giving cool information. Everything has an interesting backstory.”

Every product in Ecotopia has been carefully selected and must past certain standards before they can be put on the shelves for sale. The products, of course, are divided into different categories: food, health and beauty, stationery and technology, fashion, and home décor and gardening. These categories have their own standards. For example, skincare products must be organic (e.g. no animal testing). Ecotopia can be called “Asia’s First Full Lifestyle Destination” which is made up of various interesting brands such as:

This experimental accessory brand emphasizes on simplicity and pays attention to the environment, as evidenced by its use of discarded paper from printing factories. Each piece of paper is rolled according to its size and shape. Afterwards, it is dyed and laminated. The value of the products from BASIC TEORY is increased with the implementation of materials like glass and mirror shards, as well as pebbles.

Rocket Book
This brand makes Pocketbook Wave notebooks that come with a pen. You can transfer information stored on your smartphone’s cloud onto these notebooks, using the PilotFriXion pen to write things down. You can then delete information you’ve written down using microwave. Your notebook will then be ready for use once again.

Solar Paper
These are solar battery chargers that are designed to be paper-thin. They are light in weight, portable and are compatible with smartphones, tablets and just about any other smart device. It’s charging power is almost equivalent the amount of charging in your house. If you need to charge something that takes up a lot of battery, you can connect a Solar Paper panel to receive solar energy, effectively increasing the charge.

SuperBee Wax Wraps are here to replace plastic, whether if its plastic containers or plastic wrapping. It can be used for wrapping up food, maintaining the freshness of vegetables of fruits, and simply wrapping up items around the house for neatness. If you need to wash you SuperBee Wax Wraps, just wipe them with a cloth soaked in warm water and organic soap.

This is a brand of shower heads that help to save water recommended by skin doctors in Japan. It helps keep your skin healthy and beautiful while effectively cleaning it as well. Kudos is suited for people with sensitive skin and prone to allergies.

Every item from this brand is made from leftover materials from factories and homes, in accordance with Professor Singha’s concept. These materials include car parts, paper boxes, milk cartons, and leftover wooden furniture parts. These can be transformed into chairs, home décor, bags, and accessories; all of which have gone through a manufacturing process free of chemicals.

These are just 5 brands from the hundreds in Ecotopia. Yet, they’re able to impress us with their innovation and creativity. There’s many more creative ideas in Ecotopia that we would like you to come discover. When you go shopping there, we want you to know that there are still a group of people who are still not willing to give up in the fight to save the world. Professor Singha has said, “Saving the world is tantamount to loving ourselves. It’s time we start loving ourselves and Ecotopia. Unbox a new shade of green. Caring for the environment isn’t just a trend. There are products that you can use from the morning you wake up until before you go to bed. This area will become a sanctuary for people who love the environment. There’s so many things that people don’t expect to see.” 

If you want to be a small, contributing part of society, you can start with yourself now… this moment is the right time to care about yourself, care about the environment. Absorb the endless creativity at Ecotopia, 4th Fl, Siam Discovery.