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Tea Money

Designed by
Yiyuan Sun(University of the Arts London, Chelsea College of Arts,Graduate Diploma Textile Design)

From ancient clay tablets to tea to bitcoin. Money has let people collaborate and trade, but it also destroyed many dreams it created. It has trapped us in a destructive system (Steel, 2020).' The materialistic society which consumerism caused ignores other traditional values and environmental degradation.
The production of tea has had a bad effect on the environment which changed natural habitats into large areas of monoculture for tea trees. This loss of habitat reduces the total number of species and threatens the survival of entire ecosystems. More and more land is being deforested to plant tea due to customer demand and the growth of consumerism.
Since we now know that natural wealth is limited, we need a new type of economy which develops in a balanced and sustainable way within natural limits. The growth of this economy doesn't mean infinite expansion and damage but instead mimics nature.' It may protect the natural world by respecting nature, cherishing land and reducing consumption.
Inspired by Transition currencies which interact with local people in a practical sense, encouraging people in their daily lives to make positive decisions about the economy. Tea money which is made with tea waste collected from cafes runs in parallel to existing currencies, rather than a replacement, it is like a totem which shows the possibilities in acting against consumerism raising awareness of the environmental problems behind it.
We don't count the environmental damages in the price which we pay in our markets. Although it is not easy to put a price on such externalities, they are not unimportant. Tea money proposes to add the real environmental costs to money. When viewers put the tea money on the conductive agar which connects to the sensors the screen will show its real time value decided by the deforestation encouraging people take the initiative to rethink their values.

Steel, C. (2020) Sitopia How food can save the world. Published by Chatto & Windus. ISBN:

Interaction: Placing the tea brick - vision

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