From Plastic Trash to Community Cash

Created by design lab The Beach, Het Wildemannetje is a new, trash-based local currency that wants to improve sustainability, community stirring and neighborhood engagement in West Amsterdam.

With an eye on social transitions and distinct ways of dealing with urban issues, The Beach is currently in the process of developing local workshops for the Wildeman neighborhood in West Amsterdam, which has remained underdeveloped due to government cut-offs in the past years. However, things might improve with a campaign starting in May 2017, in which Wildeman residents, businesses and community activists can get involved. The co-creation process will lead to a circular scheme and a new currency/exchange model that will allow for redistribution of goods and encourage good local practices when it comes to recycling. Forget about exchange rates, the purchasing power when it comes to this coin made of waste plastic is in the hands of anyone who wants to contribute to the neighborhood’s sustainable initiative. The whole exchange process closely follows ‘sustainist design’ practices that highlight the importance of space, circularity, and bottom-up initiatives by changing the perception on coins, from counting money to counting time allocated to the neighborhood.

The Wildeman neighborhood in Amsterdam’s New West district

Bags brought in containing bread or plastic will be weighed and exchanged for coins that can be used at Wildeman bakeries, supermarkets, local shops, etc. New coins will be produced from the plastic brought in by residents for recycling and will be further added to the system. The bread will feed the neighborhood biogas station that will return different types of energy such as heat or electricity back to the residents in the district. On the other hand, companies and organizations will be provided coins by selling certain sustainable products or giving discounts on activities. Also, instead of buying things in the neighborhood people can invest the coins in projects being developed in the area.

This system gives economic power back to the residents who hold the true keys to their neighborhood but who, for the most part, have restricted means to exercise their right within it. At the same time, the program engages newcomers and businesses who can tap into the scheme and create local networks.

Het Wildemannetje project will initially start at a small scale in May 2017, but as people become more involved and familiar with it, the hope is that the network of organizations accepting and giving out coins will increase significantly. The designers of the project really believe in the power of co-design and prior to the launch will hold two workshops for Wildeman residents in which they will perfect the project.