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How far outside the box are you thinking?

By George Kiongo | October 2nd 2019

The world is changing, and innovation is the name of the game. We already know there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, and entrepreneurs across the world are taking this quite literally.

Here are three ways they’re re-imagining the most simple of products:

1. Stone books

Books made from trees are out; stone’s in. Recent research has shown that the paper industry is driving the degradation of forests across the world, with an average of 27,000 trees brought down every day.

Karst, in keeping with the global movement to protect the environment – and the entrepreneurial mantra of standing out from the competition – has launched a new line of notebooks that, on the surface, look like any other luxury brand.

But they’ve taken things a notch higher. Karst’s product is waterproof, tear-resistant and its pages are printed on with soy ink. It also uses stone that’s been ground up into powder, bound with a binding agent (no water is used) and then turned into pages that don’t feel that different from regular paper – they’re just silkier.

The stone, meanwhile, is repurposed from what’s produced by the mining and construction industries. And if you throw out your notebook, Karst says the product will biodegrade within a year. They ship their product worldwide, so if you want one of these notebooks, you can purchase it from their website at about $25 (Sh2,600). But due to demand, you’d need to be ready to wait for four to five weeks for the firm to get around to your order.

2. Fridges made from food

Arçelik is a manufacturing firm based out of Turkey. Earlier this month, it caught media attention after inviting its competitors to make use of a technology it came up with that reduces the amount of microplastic fibres that end up in drainage systems from washing machines.

While it will patent the idea, Arçelik said it wouldn’t pursue intellectual property protection for it. It’s also made a fridge that basically ‘rots’ if it’s ever thrown out. This biodegradable fridge is made from food products like maize and eggshells. While, the company admits it’s an expensive product, it’s confident that once it catches on and end up in more kitchens, its price will inevitably come down.

3. Luxury toilet paper

The race to disrupt the toilet paper industry, worth an estimated $31 billion (Sh3.1 trillion), is well and truly on. Toilet paper hasn’t moved that far ahead of its origins given how long it’s been around. It was initially introduced as an alternative to the use of paper back in 1857. But entrepreneurs now appear hellbent on changing things up.

The luxury line of toilet paper includes variants that use bamboo rather than wood pulp, less plastic in the packaging and pretty designs that would liven up any bathroom.

Users are also promised softer texture and more absorbent material, which means a little goes a long way. For this indulgence, though, you’d need to be ready to part with between Sh100 and Sh300 per roll; a regular roll costs between Sh20 and Sh40.  

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