An exploration in sustainable materials


Purepod: finalist, 2017 cradle to cradle design competition

The Problem: In 2016, over 500,000 people were considered homeless in the US according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness: 47,725 were veterans; 110,000 were LGBTQ youth, and 50% were over the age of 50. As climate change continues to increase volatility of weather patterns and extreme storms, PurePodx would be an invaluable tool to provide peace of mind and adequate sanitation to displaced population and climate refugees. As solar battery technological advances, PurePod could become a self-sustaining entity in terms of water and energy usage.

The Purepod Mission

PurePod’s mission is to ensure basic human rights of hygiene and sanitation to those experiencing homelessness by providing on-demand, reliable and convenient access to bathroom and shower services that are ecologically responsible. PurePod’s mission is reflected in it’s name: a space where people can feel safe and protected and leave feeling clean, fresh and anew.

Designed for Durability + Disassembly

PurePod is designed to be durable, but also designed to be disassembled at end of life for recycling and composting. The water system is designed for quick reuse of greywater through a filtration process and is heated through the solar water heating system. The use of the lithium ion battery is reserved for powering the lighting fixture and water pump.

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 1.33.41 PM.png

Materials Overview

BIOLOGICAL components:

Bamboo is a rapidly renewing resource that can be treated with natural preservatives and last for 50 years, and creates a tropical, relaxing and even luxurious feeling inside the pod.

Hemp is a rapidly renewing resource that can be used to create hemp bioplastic that has been shown to be stronger than steel.

The Water is Life Drinkable Book paper is used to filter out diseases like ecoli to create safe, drinkable water. Although the water in our system isn’t used for drinking in this iteration of the product, a future design could incorporate rainwater collection and filtration for drinking water. However, it still suits our purpose now to create a safe and hygienic space to shower.

TECHNICAL components:

Green Cast Acrylic is created from 100%recycled acrylic, and is a replacement for glass windows that is translucent to let in enough light but not allow outsiders to invade the privacy of those inside the pod. Resistance to impacts 8-10 times higher than glass.

Copper is a recyclable material that is safe to use for piping water and not as corrosive as aluminum, which we also considered.

Dandelions are rapidly renewing and being used to harvest rubber for the creation of tires, in order to offset the volatility of pricing that comes from the car industry’s historic reliance on the rubber tree.

Steel is a very recyclable material we are using for the trailer in order to transport the pod.

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 1.32.53 PM.png

impact statement:

When designing products, we need to take responsibility for end of life through proper planning at the beginning of life. There’s no such thing as a sustainable material if it ends up in a landfill. Therefore, we must design products to be durable and last as long as possible to avoid unnecessary raw materials extraction, and to design for disassembly so that products can be taken apart and recycled or composted after their useful life. Even though our product did not incorporate C2C certified materials, we know that the benefits of using them are profound. Having a database of certified materials to pull from takes a lot of stress off of designers to have to do that research on their own. It makes doing the right thing more accessible.


Awards & Recognition

PurePod was a finalist in the 2017 Cradle to Cradle Product Design Competition, Student Category. Click here to view our competition submission and click here to view the other finalists and winners for 2017.

Process Book & C2C Competition Submission

For more information about PurePod and an expansive view of all of the materials we research before developing this project, please see the following process books.