the New Plastics Economy – rethinking the future of plastics…

Plastic has become quite an obsession for us over the last year or so – especially the issues with marine litter and the scary abundance of single use plastics entering our waste streams. This is one of the reasons why we have become involved with the World Cetacean Alliance ‘Untangled’ Project, which involves designers and artists creating new pieces from fishing gear rescued from beaches around the country. Of course, as plastic based products, these pieces of netting and fishing gear – known as Ghost Gear – float about, photodegrading over time into smaller pieces and eventually ending up in the food chain as small fish eat the plastic and larger fishes eat the smaller fishes.

And this is true of all plastics that are in our oceans – not only Ghost Gear. Every piece of litter in our oceans that is plastic based will gradually degrade and be eaten – killing vast numbers of fish and mammals in the process. We have not even started to realise the issues that plastic causes to our own bodies, as we ingest fish that have eaten (and stored toxins from the plastic) in their own bodies.

Plastics are a huge, global issue, that are not going away. Yet, plastics that have become ubiquitous with our throwaway culture are actually valuable and essential materials. 

So, it was great to see that the circular economy specialists, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation publish a report on the issues with plastic, and how the whole industry could be transformed if we worked in a more circular nature. This makes perfect sense – our production of plastic has increased 20x over the last 50 years and is only set to increase, whilst plastic itself is a perfect material for reuse – so long as it is recovered, and not leaked into our oceans.

This ‘leakage’ of plastics from the waste stream into our oceans is currently estimated at being a staggering 32%. If we rethink ocean plastic as a resource for recovery and of value, rather than of waste, then we could go a long way.

And something needs to be done – as the projections are that if we continue with the business as usual model with plastics, there will be more plastic in our oceans and seas than there are fish, by weight, by 2050.

That’s a scary thought indeed…

This report demonstrates the importance of triggering a revolution in the plastics industrial ecosystem and is a first step to showing how to transform the way plastics move through our economy. To move from insight to large scale action, it is clear that no one actor can work on this alone; the public, private sector and civil society all need to mobilize in order to capture the opportunity of the new circular plastics economy. – Dominic Waughray / World Economic Forum

Want to read more? You can download the full report here. 

(images courtesy of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation)

Mafia Bags – from Sails to Bags…

As our materials get increasingly more robust, intelligent and indeed, man made, we have a bit of a double edged sword. In many respects, the newer ‘engineered’ materials often have a longer usable life, but unlike more natural materials, they are often hard or impossible to repair or recycle. Then we have an issue with a waste material. As we move towards a more circular based economy, it is essential that we find uses for these materials that would otherwise become landfill or incinerator fodder. Why waste something that can be reused? This is exactly the ethos of Mafia Bags.

Mafia Bags 3

Based in San Francisco, Mafia take the discarded and defunct windsurf, kiting and boating sails that have reached the end of their water based lives and transform them into functional and practical bags (very much like studio favourites Freitag do with truck tarps).

Mafia Bags 2

The resulting pieces are not only functional and make excellent use of a ‘waste’ material, they are completely individual. Nobody else will have the same configuration of materials as you in your bag. In a world of supposed sterile homogeneity of brands, we certainly celebrate this individuality too.

With a good selection of styles, colours and sizes, there is a bag for any occasion. Duffel bags to laptop covers, and very nice new additions to the Discover Backpack range. See one you love? Grab it before it is gone. It will be the only one. (race you all to the one below)

Mafia Bags 1

Got a sail yourself? You can donate it to Mafia and let them know what you would like it to be made into. And if you have a Mafia bag, they will repair it or replace it if it fails – for life – and for free. This is in the same vein as the Patagonia Repair Your Gear programme, where technicians will repair your beloved apparel so you can use it for longer.

mafia bags 4

This is what we need in brands. We need brands like Mafia and Patagonia who do not just want to sell to us, but believe so strongly in their products that they are willing to help us keep them, and love them longer.

Reusing waste material is an excellent start – keeping that second-life product in use is the future. 

(images via Mafia)

The Untangled Project for the World Cetacean Alliance… pt 3

Things are coming together for our Untangled Project – the Ghost Gear Chandelier which we are creating for the World Cetacean Alliance – which will be exhibited alongside the work of other artists and designers very soon. So – how have we been progressing? We have been sorting and washing our netting…World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear washing 2World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear washing 3 World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear washing

World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear washing 4

And with our ghost gear netting colour sorted, and through four water changes to get rid of the grit and smell, we turned our attention to the hardwear element of our Ghost Gear Chandelier…

We are massive fans of Factorylux – and use their stuff in many of our projects (including our own Studio Loo) as the gorgeous coloured fabric cable, fixtures and fittings they produce are exceptional quality, and it was not long until we had decided on a bright blue lighting flex and antique brass lamp holders. The bulb – one of Factorylux’s stunning eco filament bulbs will be revealed soon as we start to build our Ghost Gear Chandelier.

claire potter design World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear lighting hardwear

Watch this space!

(images by claire potter)

*** REVIEW *** Memobottle – the paper sized reusable water bottle…

Plastic has become rather an obsession to us in the studio, especially single use plastic bottles that are consigned to the bin mere minutes after they have been used. Way back in August last year we reported on the Project Ocean exhibition and initiative in Selfridges, London, where single use water bottles were removed from sale and replaced with good, strong reusable water bottles instead. Given the fact that 5,000 single use plastic bottles enter the waste stream every 15 seconds in London alone, this small action means more than it may appear. Reusable water bottles are the way forward.

memobottle 2

And this is why, back in April 2015 we featured the Australian designed Memobottle – possibly the world’s first ‘flat’ water bottle that had received funding on Kickstarter and was encouraging people to commit to refilling rather than buying more plastic and discarding it.

Of course, there are many water bottles available on the market, in all shapes and sizes, but what really pushed our buttons with the Memobottle was that it is sized in the same way as paper (A6 / A5) and is FLAT, so it fits in a laptop bag or satchel. This simple change is ridiculously useful.

memobottle 4

So we were delighted when the lovely people at Memobottle dropped us a line to say hi – and send us an A6 bottle to use…


Wrapped in lovely printed brown card (so the card can go straight into the recycling), the Memobottle guys have thought about far more than the average water bottle manufacturer, and much more than the shape change. The brown card packaging guides you through the importance of reuse – along with a thank you, and a gorgeous internal booklet takes you deeper into the issues. memobottle booklet

The Memobottle itself, made from crystal clear BPA free plastic comes with two caps, white and black, so you can tailor it to your preferences (or have a spare for when one goes walkies) – again, packaged with thought and care.

memobottle 1

We have taken out our A6 bottle quite a few times (as it sits nicely in a satchel) and as their story is so engaging and well communicated, we have been able to re-tell the Memobottle story to others. This is how it should be – with great brands doing great stuff, with great stories told well.

Well done Memobottle. 

*** want your own memobottle? check out their store locator here ***

(images by claire potter)

The Untangled Project for the World Cetacean Alliance… pt2

Earlier this week we introduced the Untangled Project we are currently working on for the World Cetacean Alliance – taking washed up fishing netting known as ‘ghost gear’ from the beaches of the UK and highlighting this as a global issue by creating something from the waste. As part of a troop of designers and artists, each piece that is currently being created will be first exhibited in London, before being auctioned off, raising funds for the World Cetacean Alliance.World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear 8

And today, we can officially reveal glimpses of what we are designing and making… the Ghost Gear Chandelier.

claire potter design World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear concept detail

We started by looking at the hunting behaviour of the whale given to us in our brief – the Humpback – and we discovered that some groups have learnt to collaboratively hunt using a technique called ‘bubble netting’. This highly developed form of hunting requires each whale to play their part – first, one individual locates the shoal of fish and swims beneath them, circling them from below whilst blowing bubbles and surrounding them with a confusing ‘net’ of bubbling water. The fish get disorientated by these bubbles and bundle together, allowing the group of whales who have been communicating by song to rise from the deep together and scoop the fish into their mouths. We became fascinated by this as a behaviour.

claire potter  design World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear conceptSo, taking the concept from the ghost gear baubles we created at Christmas, we are scaling up the design to create a large (and we are not sure exactly how large yet) chandelier, made from clear bubbles filled with cleaned, shredded and colour coded ghost gear netting… and whilst this concept is linked to the undeniably beautiful bubble netting behaviour of some humpbacks, the fact that ghost netting is regularly eaten by mistake cannot be ignored.World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear 7 We are hoping that this light will talk about both humpbacks and ghost netting on many levels.

World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear 6

Watch this space for more info on the Ghost Gear Chandelier, as we start to mock up the design in the next week, and don’t forget to head to the Creations for Cetaceans Facebook page that has been set up by the World Cetacean Alliance and will be showcasing the other projects as they develop…

(photos by claire potter)

Creations for Cetaceans – the Untangled Project for the World Cetacean Alliance… pt1

At the start of the year we hinted at a few of the exciting projects that we were going to be part of in 2016… and we are delighted to announce the first of these – the Untangled Project for the World Cetacean Alliance. 

World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear 1

Regular readers of the ecospot will know that the studio has been getting more involved and researching the area of marine litter and plastic over the past year and how, as designers, we respond to these as challenges. We have looked into the issues of microplastic, examined our own relationship to plastic in our work and championed projects who seek a solution to the issues – including those working with Ghost Gear – abandoned or discarded fishing nets which continue to catch and kill as they drift around our oceans. And in late 2015, we launched our popular Ghost Gear Baubles which contained rescued netting from the beaches of Brighton, sold during our Artist’s Open House open studio, with all proceeds going to Surfers Against Sewage.

World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear 3

And so we are very excited that we are working with Ghost Gear again, as part of the Untangled Project for the World Cetacean Alliance, which has brought together a huge range of artists, designers and makers to develop ‘creations for cetaceans’. We cannot wait to see what is being created.

But what are we doing? Well, we have a couple of things up our sleeve that we will be talking about here in the next two weeks or so, plus we are creating a video of our development, sourcing and making process. Taking the bauble we created in December, we are scaling up to something rather large indeed. 

World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear 2

Watch this space for developments of our process, and head over to the World Cetacean Alliance Facebook Page – Creations for Cetaceans to see how the other artists and designers are tackling the brief – and how you could own one of the pieces being created…

(images by claire potter)

welcome to 2016 – and the Local, Handmade and Secondhand consumer challenge…

Welcome to 2016. After a couple of weeks of recapping the best posts from 2015, and enjoying the wonderfulness of the festive season we have come back to the studio full of beans and observations and fired up for a new year. We will reveal some of these observations (which will likely turn into projects) in the coming weeks, but today we are sharing our first – the LHS challenge, or the Local, Handmade and Secondhand consumer challenge.

local handmade secondhand challenge jan 16

So what sparked this? Well, as committed hunters of all things wonderful and secondhand, our family came up with a set of rules for Christmas. We could only spend £10 (ish) per person – and we had to buy things for each other that were locally made, were handmade (by the giver of the gift) or were secondhand. Despite some grumbles from the non-charity shop shoppers in the clan, the LHS challenge was set. And it went down marvellously.

ethical consumer 6

From homebrewed drinks to handcrafted chocolates, secondhand woolly jumpers that would have cost a small fortune new, beautifully worn leather bags and even a complete 1950’s picnic basket, we did really well. And what was interesting is that each gift was a perfect fit with the person. Personality came out in the creation of the present and each one was thoughtfully selected instead of hurriedly bought.

ethical consumer 5

For those not used to consuming in this way, the charity shops of the nation were a revelation. New stuff does not always mean great stuff in the same way that secondhand stuff means second rate stuff. We swapped stories of how stuff was found, where, the conversations we had in the shops with the volunteers, their responses to our challenge – and the thrill we got from finding that *perfect* thing.

ethical consumer 7

Many of the family vowed to shop more in charity shops this year…

And so – we are setting up the LHS (Locally made, Handmade, Secondhand) consumer challenge to ourselves this year – buying as much as we can locally, or stuff that is handmade by real people (including us), or stuff that is secondhand and with a story to tell. A different type of consuming. Consuming but caring too.

So – want to join us on our challenge? Tweet us your picks to @clairepotter and hashtag it #LHSconsumer and let’s see what we can find! Let’s challenge the way we buy stuff in the next year – and be proud of our makes, repairs and secondhand stuff.

(all pictures of stuff we have bought previously in our unofficial LHS consuming!)

2015 recap – November – The Global Wave Conference…

Much of our studio research in 2015 was about marine litter – a theme which will continue into 2016 with a couple of very exciting projects in the pipeline. So, it is no surprise that November saw us looking at the Global Wave Conference…

(first published November 17th 2015)

Many moons ago, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Obsessed with sharks (and their behaviour patterns) I was going to travel the world studying these beautiful creatures and educating people about how they are animals to be admired, not feared. Fast forward a few years and I now study design, not sharks, but this deep connection to the oceans has never left. Living and working in Brighton certainly has something to do with this too, but the deeper we delve into our place as designers in this world, the more concerning we find our global attitude to our seas. It is not only sharks that have a lack of respect. And so, it was with great delight that we happened upon the Global Wave Conference, which, for the first time this year was held in the UK.

global wave conference

Hosted by Surfers Against Sewage (who we support as members in the studio), the three day event featured an incredible line up of environmentalists, researchers, artists, scientists, activists as well as surfers – each with their own observations, actions and concerns about our oceanic attitudes and the impact we have with our consumerist ways. Our seas and oceans reach between us all, across the globe – it’s one thing that truly unites us.

The conference was split into categories, with specialist speakers in each:

Surfing health and tourism

Surfing ecosystems

Climate and surfing coastlines

The surfing economy

Surfing and protected areas

We were gutted to not be there – our studio research has very much been rooted in the ocean plastic and litter issue for a little while, but fortunately, each of the inspirational talks were recorded – and are now available on the Global Wave Conference website, but to get you started, we have selected three of our favourite talks which look in detail at our own obsession with marine litter and what you can do with it – Dr Marcus Eriksen from the 5 Gyres Institute, Jon Khoo – Co-Innovation partner with Interface Carpets and David Stover – Co-Founder of Bureo Skateboards (who we wrote about here)… enjoy.

(images and videos via the Global Wave Conference)

2015 recap – October – the sustainable Brighton Fashion Week…

October 2015 saw us heading to the sustainably founded and focussed Brighton Fashion Week, to see the latest responsible developments in ladies and menswear – from the high street ready to the conceptual…

(first published 19th Oct 2015)

Talk about sustainability, and haute couture fashion is often not the first thing that springs to mind, but with a commitment to all things ethical and sustainable, the Brighton Fashion Week 2015, which was held on 15-17 October certainly put this straight. All this week we will be looking at the activities and shows – starting with our Photo Special of the Showreel Design Competition, sponsored by Bolli Darling.

Located in All Saints Church, Hove, the last of the catwalk shows was actually a design competition, where designers, artists and creatives created one outfit from a ‘Beauty from Waste’ brief for a showcase of fashion, art and performance. It was rather spectacular too… starting with an incredible construction from competition sponsor and costumer extraordinaire, Bolli Darling…

Bolli Darling BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

And so, here are a few of the entries.

Elpida Hadiz-Vasilva – Gunna – chicken skin and recycled cotton combine to explore the notions of beauty and elegance… This dress was as delicate as paper – and was modelled beautifully.

Elpida Hadiz-Vasileva BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotElpida Hadiz-Vasileva 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotElpida Hadiz-Vasileva 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotGenieve Couture – Rags to Riches  – a dress created from 58 recycled garments, showing how post-consumer waste could be reimagined… A stunning, flowing dress that felt almost mermaid like, with a huge trailing tail of material. This was one dress where the origins of the material could be seen clearly.

Genieve Couture BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotGenieve Couture 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotGenieve Couture 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotAnne Sophie Cochevelou – Glorious Junk – tribal inspired costume made from waste… This was a performance – with each model adorned in jewel like creations of material, plastic and metal. The opulence was incredible in these stunning pieces.

Anne Sophie Cochevelou BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotAnne Sophie Cochevelou 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotAnne Sophie Cochevelou 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotAfton Ayache – Les couleurs d’Afrique Recycler – inspired by a heartfelt story of selflessness and appreciation for what we have, waste was used to create these African prints… Beautiful prints, with structure and flow.

Afton Ayache BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotAfton Ayache 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotHayley Trezise – Raggedy – Rebirth- A design which explores confidence and the process of being reincarnated or born again… Another performance piece, with a cloaked ‘crawler’ adding pieces to the long tail of the dress, which itself was highly textured.

Hayley Trezise Raggedy BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotHayley Trezise Raggedy 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotHayley Trezise Raggedy 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotKumiko Tani – Evening Coffee – couture dresses created from upcycled materials that explores our desire to dress up… A dress that was clearly constructed from waste, but that was well conceived in design.

Kumiko Tani 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotKumiko Tani BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Freya Von Bulow – Flow of Nature – a technical gown designed to raise awareness of production and efficient recycling techniques… This dress was very structured and featured interesting pieces, like the clothes pegs in the neck section.

Freya Von Bulow 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Juliette Simon – American Dream – a journey through the dark side of the American Dream… Very American Beauty, this dress told a clear story of waste and consumerism.

Juliette Simon 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotJuliette Simon BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

We were blown away by the creative theatre of each of the costumes, but after lots of deliberation, the judges awarded Afton Ayache the £1000 prize, courtesy of Veolia.

Afton Ayache 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

A fantastic competition, showing the wealth of talent out there – and we will be staying with Brighton Fashion Week 2015 for the rest of the week, with the Zeitgeist and Sustain shows, plus a look at the debates…

(all images copyright Claire Potter)

2015 recap – September – Zero Waste Week and Silo Brighton…

We are in the last week of our 2015 recap now, and for today we are casting our minds back to September, where we were mostly talking about zero waste…

(first published 10 Sept 2015)

Continuing our look at zero waste for zero waste week, today we are featuring one of our favourite places in Brighton. Silo, which opened in the North Laine area of the city earlier this year is heralded as a ‘pre-industrial food system’ which, as well as producing beautiful and delicious food, also produces zero waste.


Now, for a restaurant to declare that its is ‘zero waste’ is a huge achievement, but as founder of Silo, Doug McMaster points out – if you design and create ‘backwards’ – ie with the bin in mind, you can begin to eliminate waste before it has been produced, rather than dealing with it at the end. This is effective and clever.

Silo demonstrate that by working with producers directly, you can choose items that have been produced locally, in reusable / returnable vessels that continue to be in the loop once the contents have been used at the restaurant.

silo brighton 2

But reducing the packaging that you use is one thing. The largest, and most pressing waste produced from a restaurant is the food waste itself. Scraps, peelings, left overs – where does all this go? At Silo, they have Big Bertha – a composting machine that sits just inside the entrance to the side of the restaurant and converts everything into compost and liquid feed in an astonishingly short amount of time.

The 50-60kg of compost it produces overnight is distributed back to the growers that they get their raw goods from – literally closing the loop. As you enter the restaurant, one shelf is filled with boxes from the Espresso Mushroom Company, happily sprouting their brown and pink oyster mushrooms from the mix of recycled compost and locally sourced coffee grounds in the cool shade.

silo brighton 3

But it is not just the food that is zero waste at Silo – the pastries that greet you are served on multicoloured discs of plastic – melted plastic bags that have found a new use and the interior itself is a delight of the industrial aesthetic with reclaimed wood seating and reclaimed flooring used as tables.

There is a distinct honesty to everything at Silo. The kitchen is open at one end, the flour is milled in another corner of the open plan space (although not when service is on as it is pretty noisy) and the jugs of water are filled with the visible offcuts of herbs from the kitchen. You drink the water from jam jars and lovely ceramic mugs, obviously.

silo brighton 1

Many people have baulked at the idea of a zero waste restaurant, confining it to the very ‘green orientated creatives’ that live in Brighton, but whilst Silo wears a lot of it’s ethics on it’s sleeve (and rightly so), it also does it rather quietly. There is no massive signage declaring how it is holier than thou. Ask one of the staff and they will enthusiastically explain the systems – even Big Bertha – but there is no ramming of information down your throats, even though this is the system that many more restaurants could be (and should be) employing.


Go to Silo for the delicious food – and realise how zero waste in the food industry is possible.

(images by claire potter design and via silo)

2015 recap – August – Project Ocean and more marine litter…

We are staying with marine litter for our most popular August post here on The Ecospot – this time with a review of Project Ocean at Selfridges…

(first posted August 15)

As I have mentioned here before, in a childhood long long ago, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I was fascinated by the sea – the abundance yet invisibility of the life. The variety and the scale of those underwater cities, filled me with wonder. Fast forward a few years, and even having decided that design and architecture was my calling, the childhood awe for our oceans never drifted away. This, coupled with the studio foundation in sustainable design is why the issue of marine litter – and particularly plastic waste holds such a concern for us. So – it was with delight that we found that this years Project Ocean exhibition at Selfridges, London, was to focus on this very subject…

Project Ocean 13

It may seem quite odd for a huge department store, which of course, is based on our insatiable appetite for consumption to hold an exhibition of this kind. However, where better place to educate the masses of the issues at hand? By situating the exhibition in a side section of the homewares section in the basement we were optimistic that it would be rammed with people keen to learn more.

This, unfortunately, was not the case. 

Having battled through shoppers on an end-of-the-week spending binge, we entered the exhibition under a ceiling installation of single use water bottles and into a beautifully conceived, yet ghostly quiet space. It was a real shock.

Project Ocean 4

But this was but one of many shocks we discovered at the Project Ocean exhibition. The ceiling of the entrance featured an installation by How About Studio, constructed from 5,000 single use plastic water bottles diverted from the London waste stream – representing the amount of bottles used by the UK market every 15 seconds, which was staggering. Of course, not all of these single use bottles will end up in the ocean, but considering the recycling rates are so pitifuly low, it certainly puts the issue into perspective.

Project Ocean 12

Turning left into the space, we were greeted by a large poster featuring the most dangerous species in the ocean, from a cotton bud sea urchin to a plastic bag jellyfish, again with sobering data on how long plastic waste persists in the water, and the damage it creates.

Project Ocean 10

Project Ocean is split into two halves, with the Water Bar and the main Exhibition – we headed to the Water Bar area, which concentrates on Selfridges own commitments to the cause. The long, recycled glass bar is clean and modern in shades of nautical blue and white and is where the resident ‘water sprites’ dispense free water to visitors, tinted with herbs, essences and fresh fruit.

Project Ocean 11

Behind the bar is a small yet intriguing collection of water vessels from around the world – from clay pots to aluminium French cycling bottles – all reusable, which contrasted well with the abundance of single use water bottles hanging over our heads as we entered the space.

Alongside the Water Bar was a small collection of the vessels that can be purchased from Selfridges, from bpa free plastic bottles to elegant glass carafes and chunky glasses. We were delighted to see that these were sat on a chunk of recycled plastic from Smile Plastics, which not only gave a very relevant nod to the Project Ocean focus, but looked wonderful. This is something we are very keen to promote – as designers it is up to us to specify these types of recycled materials to encourage others to produce materials from ‘waste’.

Project Ocean 3

But the Selfridges commitment also involves the removal of all single use plastic water bottles from their cafes and food halls, and the installation of a public water fountain instead – encouraging people and providing a source for people to refill their own vessels. The water ‘tinting’ will only last for the duration of the Project Ocean exhibition (until early September), but this action will hopefully make people consider their choices…

Join us for Part two on 19th August where we enter the exhibition part of Project Ocean…

(all images by claire potter)

2015 recap – July – nurdles and marine waste…

July saw us heading up to New Designers in London, where we met the lovely Alice Kettle and talked about all things marine litter and nurdles. This has been a major theme in our studio research this year…

(first posted 15th July)

In the last of our SPOTTED’s we are looking at a project that really caught our eyes and hearts at New Designers this year – the NURDkit by Alice Kettle, which educates people to the problems with nurdles.

So why did this catch our eye? Once upon a time, in a childhood far, far away, I wanted to be a marine biologist and spend my life studying sharks with a view to conserving their numbers and educating people to their true, non-killer personalities. Fast forward a few years, and marine conservation is still very high on our concern list as a studio. And one of the biggest concerns of ours is plastic. There is too much generally and too much is ending up in our seas and oceans.


But, despite the images of deceased birds full of plastic, scenes of great oceanic gyres full of a plastic soup gradually degrading to particles that are eaten by fish and get into the food chain, many people do not know the true scale of the issues with plastic in our seas.

And although we can all spot the empty drinks bottles and spent lighters on the strand line of a beach, there is a particular type of plastic that we all see, but many of us do not recognise. The nurdle.


But it is these tiny dots of raw material plastic that end up manufacturing the vast majority of the plastic products we consume globally.

We were immediately drawn to the work of Alice Kettle for these reasons – she has created a kit that allows people – and particularly children – to sieve out the tiny pieces of plastic (the nurdle) from the beach, safely remove them and even use them to create another NURDkit. A simple, yet elegant premise that aids to educate as well as creating something responsible.


Speaking to Kettle, who was both passionate and highly knowledgeable on the subject, we could see clear similarities with one of our all time favourite projects – the Sea Chair by Studio Swine, which also seeks to reclaim plastic from the ocean, turning it into one off chairs. Whilst poetic in nature, both projects are seeking to educate about the overwhelming scale of the issue – much of which is unseen by the general public.


We are passionate that these are the sorts of projects and products that we should be championing – one that deals with a real issue – in even the smallest of ways. If we demand these kinds of responsible products as consumers, more will be created.

Inside the NURDkit

However, given the scale of the issue, can well meaning projects such as the NURDkit really create change? It’s certainly a start. And starting is what we need.

We just hope that there will be more projects like Kettle’s at New Designers 2016.

(all images via Alice Kettle)

2015 recap – June – Revolution the movie…

In June, we were invited to review the environmental movie ‘Revolution’, which was truly wonderful…

(first posted 15th  June 2015)

Whilst growing up, I was adamant what I wanted to become. I was not interested in being a princess or a fairy, certainly not a ballerina – I wanted to be marine biologist. I am sure I was not alone, and many pre-teen girls wanted to be a marine biologist too, but what was slightly different was there was a particular animal which held an incredible fascination over all the others to me – sharks. I did not see them as monsters, but beautiful relics from a long distant past that were designed so efficiently, yet with so much variety that they were enchanting. Fast forward a few years and despite not being a marine biologist, the ecology and protection of our seas and oceans hold a very deep concern for me. The beautifully shot award winning 2006 film ‘Sharkwater’ told this story too, and so, it was with great delight that I was recently invited to review the second film from filmmaker Rob Stewart – ‘Revolution’.

Revolution movie poster

From the outset, Stewart frames the issues – he created Sharkwater to save sharks, yet by creating the film, he realised the issue is far wider reaching than that. We need to save ourselves. Our continued lack of realisation of how we are effecting our home is quite staggering, despite the mass of signs in front of our eyes. Hence, ‘Revolution’ was conceived. Since its release at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival, ‘Revolution’ has won 10 awards – and deservedly so.
A feature length film, filmed over 5 years and in 15 different countries,  ‘Revolution’ covers many of the pressing issues that are facing our planet today, starting again with the acidification of oceans, which are leading to huge losses in corals – the building blocks of community life in the oceans, all the way through to deforestation and it’s impact on indigenous people and global climate change. It tells stories of the delicate balance species have with their ecosystems – and how we as a species are inconsiderate to fish stock levels, natural, irreplaceable habitats and how our insatiable thirst for oil has driven us almost to the end of the road.
Rob photographing a 1500-year-old Baobab tree in Madagascar. When this was a sapling there were 300 million people on earth. Photo © Paul Wildman from the documentary film Revolution.

‘Revolution’ shows the global impact we are having to our environments, but also those who are desperately trying to get the message to those who have the power to create change – the politicians and policy makers. Attending the Cancun Climate Change Conference in 2010, ‘Revolution’ covers the attempts by campaigners to influence discussions going on behind closed doors – many of which end up thwarted and frustratingly with no real progression in strong, applicable policy

It would be very easy for a film like this to leave nothing but a breathtaking image of despair – how the beautiful world we live in is being pillaged and destroyed, but ‘Revolution’ actually gives a great deal of hope. A particular story of how a group of children writing appeal letters translated into a shark finning ban after watching ‘Sharkwater’ in Saipan shows that no matter how small you think you are, you can create change.

‘Revolution’ is a beautifully shot environmental film with clear and strong messages, but it is a call to action. It is about opening your eyes, changing the world and fighting for something – globally or locally. It is a must see.

And you can see it here… Plus, for every film purchased through the link below, $1 will go directly to the WWF, with the remainder going to Sharkwater Productions further projects. Money well spent we say.

(images and movie courtesy of ‘Revolution’)

2015 recap – May – how to be a good capitalist…

We have had Christmas. We may be starting on the seasonal sales… so ironically today we one of our most popular posts for May, which was all about capitalism…

(first posted 18th May 2015)

We are massive fans of the School of Life – that little golden nugget in London which is dedicated to ‘developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture’. Through the use of short courses, programmes and activities, The School of Life tackles everything from how to have a conversation to how to be happy. It also produces rather excellent little animated videos which, in a mere five or so minutes, look at some rather weighty issues indeed…

Such as the video we are featuring today on Monday Musings – ‘Against Philanthropy’, or, how to be a good capitalist, which is a rather good thing to be. The biggest way we can really effect change is by choosing to spend our pennies in the right way, with the right people on the right products…

(video via The School of Life)

seasons greetings from all of us at claire potter design and the ecospot!

Christmas 2015

wishing you a wonderful festive season and a peaceful new year – here’s to us all being more circular in 2016…