Coffee grounds, a special glue and vegetable oil – these simple ingredients can soon trigger a world revolution in glasses production. Maksym Havrylenko, a Ukrainian, has recently begun making, perhaps, the most ecological-friendly glasses in his studio in the Kyiv region. They fully decompose in 10 years without doing any harm to the planet, while plastic glasses will “live” from 200 to 1000 years. These terrible numbers made a young entrepreneur looking for a unique technology. Maksym told more about his start-up Ochis in his interview to Opinion.
What made you invent such an unusual frame?
There are many plastic accessories in our life. That’s why when I started to think of making my own frames, I didn’t even take plastic into account. It is not creative, and you can’t surprise anybody with that. Moreover, it is very dangerous for the planet. Most of the glasses are made of the material which will be decomposing for 200 years and produce toxic substances. They pollute woods and oceans, poison lives of all the organisms. I don’t want my frames to boost this process. Nevertheless, I am not going to give up the business of my life. So, we started to experiment with my wife. It took us almost 6 months to develop a perfect recipe.
What was important for you while developing the recipe? What criteria were you driven by?
First of all, we were looking for recyclable materials. Coffee is perfect for that. This drink is very popular, but coffee grounds are often just thrown away.
What ingredients have you tried to use?
Oil cake, left after oil has been extracted, amaranth, parsley, mint – actually, we have compressed many different ingredients. But coffee turned out to be the best ingredient and very strong component.
How do you turn coffee into glasses?
We mix coffee grounds with two vegetable oils (I won’t tell what exactly – it’s a secret). This way, we get a solid natural substance with strong polymer network. We make sheets of this material, then we cut a form using a special digital machine. It provides mathematical precision. After that, we work with fittings and lenses in a manual way. One pair of glasses takes up to 7 days to create it from making a substance to a completed frame. However, we develop a production process to make it quicker.
How does your working place look? Is there a smell of coffee?
My studio is situated in the building where I live with my family. It is the place where our bravest ideas are born. We make up a design and produce frames there. Naturally, there are many machines, shelves with tools, a computer in the studio. However, it has a coffee and wood smell. Almost like in a real coffee shop.
Who tried the first eco-glasses?
Now, three people are wearing coffee frames. These are our friends. Their first reaction was, “What do you mean – made of coffee? It is impossible!” But they believed and gave the first feedback. Now, we are developing our production so the glasses will fit properly. The first batch will soon be completed. We have 78 people who have pre-ordered the glasses on our Orchis web site. These people are not only from Ukraine but from the USA and Europe as well. In about a week, they will receive their unique glasses.
How much do these frames cost?
Our frames cost 69 dollars for first 200 buyers, for next 200 buyers, it will cost 79 dollars.
Do frames have a coffee smell?
Yes, naturally. There is a coffee smell for about a month. In fact, they can smell as you want. The main feature of organic material is its microporous structure, which absorbs well any aromatic oil. So you can put some drops of vanilla or cinnamon oil on a frame and enjoy a favorite aroma as long as you want.
How do you plan to develop mass production?
We launch a campaign on Kickstarter to come into the spotlight and to raise investments. We also have a plan for an American market. We are going to collaborate with a famous brand, I can’t tell its name yet. In the future, we want to produce other household items, using our technology. We want to use not only coffee. There are many kinds of recyclable materials, which can be used.
Tell a little about yourself. Why did you decide to dedicate your life to producing glasses?
My parents worked at the Optic-Mechanical Factory in the town of Izium. It was one of the biggest optic factories in the USSR. In the 90-s, when the USSR collapsed, my parents started to work in outsourcing, as they say now. They started to sell glasses, lenses, Dad began experimenting with frames. He painted them in different colors. As I turned 16, I also started to help my parents to sell glasses and fix them. I found it very interesting and still do. Despite the fact that this work is quite traditional and conservative, there is still space for art. This work became a platform for art and fulfilling my ideas. I believe that a person can be creative in doing any job. There simply must be a desire.
Which eco-principles do you adhere to every day?
My family sorts the trash and plastic. We try to eat healthy food, save nature and respect people around us. It plays an important role as well. If people are not aggressive to each other, they are more likely to pay their attention to ecological issues and think of the importance of environmental protection.
You are the person who experiments much in professional regard. Where do you take inspiration to be always open to everything new?
It is important for me to constantly move and try something new. Snowboard, motorbike, climbing, clay modeling, music – new impressions always inspire. Sport and creative activities develop your thinking, give a joy of life and ideas which you can use even at the most conservative profession. Meditation helps me to save the balance. 5-10 minutes of sitting in silence and relaxing is a good way to make an order in your important thoughts. That’s how I realized that I should do what I am obsessed with and what I love. This way, it is much easier to get pleasure from life.
Interview by Liudmyla Hitsevych
Photo by Maksym Havrylenko