Cradle to Cradle: The long journey of Basti's 'Airpaq'.

Cradle to Cradle: Wie aus einem Airpaq etwas Neues wird | Airpaq UG

Basti from Cologne has been a successful supporter of Airpaq from the beginning. When we funded the production of our backpacks via a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, he was there and bought one of the first 'Airpaqs'. Since then, his backpack has been on many trips and served Basti well. Although it still works perfectly, Basti would like to have a new travel companion and thought of a 'Rolltop Biq'. He thinks his old 'Airpaq' is too good to throw away and therefore returns it to Airpaq. (Lese hier nach, was du machen musst, um deinen Rucksack zurückzugeben.)

Ein jüngerer Mann steht mit dem Rücken zur Kamera und blickt auf eine Küstenlandschaft am Meer. Auf dem Rücken trägt er einen gelben Rucksack.Basti with his old 'Airpaq' on one of his trips (©Airpaq)

We regularly collect seat belts and belt buckles from old cars at scrap yards in Cologne and the surrounding area. After a worthwhile quantity, we then send them to our production facility at the EU site in Timișoara, Romania. Basti's returned 'Airpaq' is shipped to Romania together with the collected seat belt buckles and seat belts.

Ein großer Sack voller Gurtschlösser und Sitzgurte. Darauf liegt ein gelber Rucksack.Im Umfeld einer Näherei liegt ein gelber Rucksack neben einer Nähmaschine.
Upper picture: Backpack arrives in sewing room with collected material,
Lower picture: backpack is ready for processing (©Airpaq)

Once they arrive in Timișoara, the seamstresses on site dismantle the 'Airpaq' into its individual parts: They separate the seat belts, the adjusters of the carriers and the seat belt buckle, remove the magnets from the roll top, the reflector on the seat belt buckle, detach the back section and cut out the airbag fabric. Now everything is first checked for damage and cleaned.

Eine Frau in rotem Arbeitskittel bearbeitet einen gelben Rucksack mit einer Schere.Zu sehen sind zwei Hände, die einen gelben Rucksack mit blauem Innenfutter auftrennen, um kleine Magnete herauszuholen.

Mariuca removes the individual components (©Airpaq)

And these are now all the components from Basti's old 'Airpaq': The belt buckle and the adjusters on the straps can be recycled for the production of a new backpack, such as the 'Rolltop' or 'Rolltop Biq'. Also the separated magnets find place in the Rolltop of a newly produced backpack.

Auf einem weißen Tisch liegen verschiedene Teile eines Rucksacks nebeneinander aufgereiht: unter anderem ein Gurtschloss, Sitzgurte und Airbagstoffe
The individual components of an Airpaq (©Airpaq)

So that our small products, such as the fanny pack 'Hip Baq' or our bow ties with matching pocketkerchief can be made from the separated airbag fabrics, the fabric is cut into the correspondingly required sizes with the laser. From Basti's 'Airpaq' we make, among other things, a yellow bow tie and can see here how the fabric is neatly cut by Florin.

Ein Mann steht an einem Schneidetisch, auf dem ein gelber Airbagstoff liegt.Gelber Airbgstoff liegt auf einem weißen Tisch und wird mit einem Laser zugeschnitten.Florin cuts the fabrics (©Airpaq)
Our sewing leader Mariuca, who originally had the idea for the men's bow ties as a surprise for our Christmas party in Timișoara, sews the pieces of fabric cut with the laser so that you can already guess the later bow tie. Eine Frau näht kleine gelbe Airbagstoffe mit der Nähmaschine zu.Ein gelber Airbagstoff liegt unter der Nadel einer Nähmaschine und wird bearbeitet.Mariuca sews the cut airbag fabrics into a bow tie (©Airbaq)

Voilá, this is what it looks like, our upcycled bow tie from Basti's old 'Airpaq'. The materials from his old backpack were reused in a meaningful way and got back into the technical cycle, giving them another life. Another piece of less waste that was created.

Die fertige gelbe Fliege mit passendem Einstecktuch liegt in einer Pappschachtel.Eine Frau sitzt vor einer Nähmaschine und hält in den Händen eine Pappschachtel mit einer gelben Fliege darin.Mariuca with the finished sewn bow tie in matching box and pocket square (©Airpaq)


What does "Cradle to Cradle" (C2C) mean?

As 'Cradle to Cradle' we define a  „Vision of an economic system without waste“.

Quite the opposite of the existing throwaway society, which can rather be described as "from the cradle to the grave". Unfortunately, the majority of our consumer goods are still produced, used and end up in the trash - the resources are lost.

Chemist Michael Braungart and architect William McDonough therefore came up with the idea of a „perfect circular economy“:

Raw materials should be processed into new goods after use without leaving any residues. Preferably, they should even be biodegraded and returned to the natural material cycle as "nutrients". Environmentally harmful substances and composites that cannot be recycled should be excluded directly in product design, and the necessary energy for production and "re-design" should be provided by renewable energies.

The "eco-effective" concept understands overproduction and Usage as not a environmental issue, if the "material cycles" were taken into account. Critics criticize the call for waste and the lack of feasibility on a large scale, because a completely new economic system would be needed to operate completely free of waste and pollutants. And as long as the majority of the world's energy needs are still met from fossil sources, saving energy and thus avoiding unnecessary production would have top priority.

At Airpaq, we use resources that would otherwise go to waste in our production and use them to make something new (Read more about it here:  our Production and our utilized ressources).

Our entire concept is based on the process of upcycling and thus we comply with at least part of the "Cradle to Cradle" concept. This way of recycling waste saves precious resources. We think it is better to implement a part of the C2C concept, so not to try anything at all. We also want to stay true to this concept with our own produced waste, so we take back used backpacks. Before throwing them away, we recycle the individual components and give them a second life. Just like what has now happened with Basti's old Airpaq.

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