Goonj is Creating a Parallel Economy Using Waste

I recently attended the LAUNCH: Beyond Waste forum at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Held July 20 – July 22, 2012, the forum is part of the LAUNCH program which helps identify and assist transformative innovations from around the world. Nine innovators were invited to the program and travelled to JPL to speak about their projects with American agencies, venture capitalists, and sustainability experts. Particularly of interest to me was a company named Goonj. Goonj is a small company in India that helps communities identify local needs and finances projects using repurposed material as payment.

Some of the donated materials Goonj accepts, sorts, and distributes are bed sheets, curtains, shirts, shoes, and trousers. Goonj repurposes the materials into a variety of new products including backpacks, bags, and sanitary napkins. Leveraging these items Goonj can pay for projects that communities need completed like bridges, water wells, or road repairs. Goonj co-founder Anshu Gupta speaks in the video above about the power of waste, “If the waste material can create employment…can bring people together…can tell the people what they have, it has a huge potential.” I previously posted about Laura Pifer’s effort to convert Trash to Couture and though Goonj is a far larger effort I believe they share a common thread of waste reuse which is vital to our society’s longterm sustainability. If you’re interested in what Goonj is accomplishing, Anshu Gupta and co-founder Meenakshi Gupta also gave a presentation and had a question and answer session at LAUNCH: Beyond Waste.

Keeping with full disclosure, I serve as the Community Manager for LAUNCH.

Posted by Dennis Bonilla

Dennis Bonilla has been a user experience designer, software developer, and digital strategist and is currently the Chief Technology Officer for a VR start-up. Dennis co-founded Unified Pop Theory with his friends. Dennis is a trend finder and idea maker who is inspired by individuals that believe the world can be changed one great project at a time. Dennis can be reached on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.

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