In 2016, the gigantic mountains of single-use plastic started to bother Enni Karikoski. What can one do to encourage people to recycle instead of tossing out stuff where it doesn’t belong?
“That’s when the idea started to brew,” she tells now, three years later. “I figured it’d be great to make a piece of design furniture that makes recycling as easy as possible.”
Ecosmol, a modular recycling bin and a brainchild of Karikoski, was born in the hands of designer Harri Koskinen. It’s also a crucial element in the story of Niimaar, a family business that used to offer dental services and sell furniture.
“Initially, Niimaar did something completely different,” Karikoski explains, “but with Ecosmol, things started to change. Everything we do now has something to do with reducing plastic waste.”
Niimaar is still a family company run by Karikoski, her mother Aija Karikoski and her sister Sanni Karikoski.
Lasting both in quality and style
Enni Karikoski contacted Koskinen in 2016, and the end result – Ecosmol – is a multi-purpose recycling bin that’s built to last. Its modules can be adjusted in size to suit each user’s recycling needs. The item can also be used as a storage unit, a shelf, a planter box and even a table or a bench.
Whatever the use, Ecosmol is meant to last from generation to generation with no expiration date – including on style.
“We want to create products that last for as long as possible, so that there’s never a need to buy a new one,” Karikoski notes.
On top of Ecosmol, Niimaar has other sustainability-focused products in its offering. Its Poly-Marble wall clock is made of recycled plastic and reusable biobags are for storing fruit and vegetables without plastic bags. Reusable water bottle Vesi, as well as reusable KeepCup for hot drinks, helps to reduce the use of disposable cups and bottles.
On top of sustainable products, Karikoski has written an e-book called Zero Waste Society that ponders over different kinds of waste and how circular design and economy can help the world to tackle the plastic problem.
“There are examples of how to reduce waste in cities or events,” she tells. “It’s also our way of spreading knowledge and understanding of the issue.”
Niimaar also offers consulting services to companies that want to live by the zero-waste philosophy. Karikoski has noticed that many companies are rethinking their green strategies and seek for innovative alternatives.
A rising movement
Niimaar is international by nature. The idea for Ecosmol occurred when Karikoski was living in Barcelona. Now she’s back in Helsinki, but some the partners still work in Spain. Her sister, in turn, lives and works in Stockholm.
For now, Niimaar has resellers mainly in Europe and attends design fairs and markets in, for example, Spain and Sweden. In the future, the focus will be on Europe and Asia.
“Europe is a global trailblazer in recycling, and the market is nearby,” Karikoski says. “In Germany and the Nordics, recycling is a big deal, and we’re also interested in markets that have an eye for Finnish design.”
Niimaar has also gained good press for taking part in organising plogging events in Helsinki and Barcelona – plogging being a Swedish-born activity that combines jogging with picking up litter. Karikoski says that Niimaar is always looking for ways to connect with consumers who share their vision of zero waste.
“We want to expand our selection based on what people actually want and need. I believe that the plastic problem has been a wake-up call for many to think about the climate crisis in general, and a lot of us really want to make a change for the better.”