DOSHA Woodcraft gives a second life to unwanted wood

Wood commonly used in goods transportation, such as pallets and wine boxes, are often treated as waste after delivery and discarded right away to the landfill. Yet a group of youngsters in their twenties saw the potential of scrap wood and established their own company – DOSHA Woodcraft. They recycle and repair the wood to turn them into usable materials again, while also engaging in creative work to design furniture for low-income families. Through wood upcycling, they endeavor to change public perception on recycled wood and help address social and environmental issues.

Embarking on the journey of designing with recycled wood for the environment

Majoring in product design, this group of youngsters had to explore different materials for their design assignments at university. In the factory zone nearby, they discovered that many pallets were discarded, which were actually still of good quality and almost no different from any other wood normally used for furniture making. It would be such a waste and harmful to the environment, so they chose to make use of these materials and transform them into wooden chairs, all by themselves – from cleaning the pallets to designing the products. Despite the fact that people around them didn’t believe that the ideas could work in the first place, they have proved themselves by not giving up and even got good grades for the assignments at the end. Since then, they have become deeply inspired and decided to start their business.

Making reclaimed furniture for the underprivileged

Apart from making recycled wood products for sale, DOSHA also engage in some social projects to create more impact in society. It all started when their professor invited them to customize furniture for subdivided flat tenants back in their final year. Due to spatial constraints of the flats, furniture sold in the market is rarely suitable for these households and they even lack some basic furniture such as a desk. During the project, they visited 5 families living in subdivided flats. Through analyzing their place and chatting with them, they learnt their needs and tailor-made furniture for them. ‘We simply treated it as a chance for learning at first, but it turned out that we were able to help them and found enjoyment out of it.’ – this was how the youngsters felt after the project. They then started to pay more attention to the issue of subdivided flats, which laid the foundation of the future development of DOSHA.
Currently, they are making furniture for a group of underserved subdivided flat tenants in the Southern District. They want to develop a set of furniture that can suit the needs of most subdivided flats families through co-design, engaging the community in the design process. So far the operation of their work mainly relies on charitable funding and crowdfunding. They hope to be listed into the Community Care Fund as a furniture supplier in the future so that more grassroots families can benefit from their work.

Reshaping public perception on recycled wood through education

However, running such a business is never easy work. One major obstacle DOSHA have to deal with is the prejudice against recycled wood among the public – it is generally believed that recycled wood is some dirty and unwanted waste. Some even once said to them, “Things made with waste are still waste.” It did frustrate them, but meanwhile it also became their motivation to change public perception. They admitted that they also called recycled wood as ‘waste’ at the beginning, but they have realized that ‘waste’ is just something people see subjectively. Objectively speaking, they are just some untapped resources, which can also be useful after simple transformation. To let the public understand this, they also hold workshops from time to time, in which participants create artwork with recycled wood. By teaching them about recycled wood, DOSHA hope to change people’s mindset, and it is especially important for the next generation to understand the meaning of upcycling wood as early as possible to remove any prejudice.
As more and more people see the meaning of their creative work and the value of recycled wood, the public now hold a more positive attitude towards the use of recycled wood. Some designers even use their products for interior design to create spaces with reclaimed furniture. They hope that in the future, the public will be able to associate recycled wood with DOSHA and become more willing to use recycled wood in different areas to promote sustainability.

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Ms. Angie Zhou

Education Specialist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Angie Zhou is an Education Specialist at MIT App Inventor. She was the founder and CEO of Dreams Come True in Shenzhen, where she developed online coding courses for kids. She also has previous curriculum development, teaching and staff training experience at First Code Academy in Hong Kong.