We’re back at Platform with ‘The Smack’ for Clerkenwell Design Week 2017…

Where has the year gone? It seems like only yesterday we were up at Clerkenwell Design Week for the first time with our ‘Ghost Gear Chandelier’ we built in collaboration with the World Cetacean Alliance and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative. And here we are – back in May – and heading to Clerkenwell Design Week for the second time with our new iteration of products made from marine litter – ‘The Smack’.

Image result for clerkenwell design week logo

This year, we have utilised 365 plastic sports drinks bottles that were picked up on an SAS supported beach clean we led in February with the Brighton and Hove Eco Supper Club – which was run on the same day as the Brighton Half Marathon.

Now, it has to be stressed that the Brighton Half Marathon HAD organised help to pick up the discarded Lucozade Sport bottles cast aside by the runners, but there were too many bottles and too few people helping too late in the day. Bottles were strewn over the beach and promenade on a blustery day – and we only made a dent in the bottles that we could see.

But even when the bottles were picked up by the organised contractors, they were not being separated – or emptied, so would have been consigned to the local incinerator. As circular economy designers, we were not going to let that happen to the bottles our group had collected, so they were brought back to the studio to be emptied, washed, sorted and re-processed. 

Many, many hours and 7 different processes later, we have created ‘The Smack’ for CDW17 – a series of 30 plastic jellyfish lights made from the Lucozade Sport bottles, which have also just been identified and reported as being the second worse item for recyclability in the UK. This exhibit is to demonstrate exactly how much you have to do to a sports drink bottle to make it re-usable, and how we could start to rethink the material…

So – come and say hi to us at Platform from Tuesday 23rd May – Thursday 25th May – and see ‘The Smack’… 

(and if you want to see our press release and download images, you can do so here…)

Welcome back.

Well. January has been and (almost) gone, but has certainly been eventful. The world as we know it has been turned upside down, with global turmoil and global uncertainty. And it can be really easy to lose heart. To become disillusioned and to become resigned to the fact that this is the way things are going to be from now on.

But this is not the way it has to be. 

Every few weeks or so, we re-do the studio window, with new ideas, new creations or new displays. In January, we came back from the break feeling that we had to do something. We had to be part of something that stood up and said No. We are all better than this.

So, perhaps because we went to watch Star Wars: Rebel One, the rebellion was very much in our minds when we came to redoing the studio window.

Resistance means Hope. Says it all really. Do not sit and despair. Stand up, join up and be hopeful.

Welcome to 2017…

(image by claire potter design)

Seasons Greetings from The Ecospot…

Well, 2016 has been eventful eh? But thank for being here with us at The Ecospot – we would like to wish you all the very warmest of seasons greetings and a peaceful new year.

Here’s to an exciting and positively disruptive 2017. See you in January.

(marine litter Christmas Tree image by claire potter and the world cetacean alliance – December 2016)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide – day 23 – the gift of time…

Almost Christmas Eve. We are nearly there folks. But if you have got to this point and still do not know what to get someone, we have one final suggestion for you. Give the gift of your time.

In a world where we are connected virtually at every minute of the day, giving someone your time is perhaps the most precious gift you can give.

Free, yet utterly priceless, time is also something we can all give, no matter where we are, or how lined our pockets are with gold.

And time spans all of the world too – taking time to stop and say hello to a neighbour, enjoy a cup of tea with a friend or make a phone call to someone at the other side of the globe is precious. Do a few hours of volunteering locally, help with someones shopping, undertake in a bit of lobbying for a cause that you support. It all adds up, yet it all takes time.

Touching base and keeping connected is so special. Standing up for causes you admire is important. So. Take your time and give it to someone else.

Last Christmas, Wham! may have given you their hearts, but as we know, the very next day, you gave it away. If they’d given time, they would have saved a little heartache and spread a little more love.

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 22 – donate to Sea Shepherd…

In the second of our virtual gifts for great projects and people we are featuring one of our most favourite movements here at The Ecospot – Sea Shepherd. Founded in 1977 as the direct action marine conservation group, Sea Shepherd run annual campaigns to protect marine life from the Faroes to the Southern Ocean. Tackling illegal fishing, whale hunts, seal hunts and the trapping of dolphins for transportation into a life of captivity, Sea Shepherd does exactly what they pledge to do – Defend, Conserve and Protect.

Image result for sea shepherd

Many people will know Sea Shepherd from the Whale Wars programmes, or more recently, the Ocean Warriors series, which tracks the Operation Icefish campaign from last season where the Sea Shepherd vessel, the Bob Barker, led by Captain Peter Hammarstedt chased the illegal Patagonian toothfish vessel, the Thunder for 110 days.

Bob Barker

The vast amounts of illegal gillnets that were recovered by Sea Shepherd’s Sam Simon vessel were used as evidence against the Thunder before they were given to Parley for the Oceans as part of their link up with Adidas. The result? Their new ocean plastic trainer that we have spoken about here as part of our own marine litter reporting.

adidas X Parley 1

But the heroic actions of Sea Shepherd that do so much to protect our oceans and marine life need supporting in so many ways. Even with a completely volunteer crew, the vessels and campaigns of Sea Shepherd cost money to run. Donating towards the running costs ensures that Sea Shepherd can continue to Defend, Conserve and Protect.

Donate through the main Sea Shepherd UK pages here, or buy merchandise from their ebay store here.

(images via Sea Shepherd / Adidas)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 21 – membership to Surfers Against Sewage…

Want to really give a gift that helps do something positive? Well, for the last few of days before the 25th, we have selected gifts that really help a cause, a charity or a movement. First up is a gift membership to Surfers Against Sewage…

Not just surfers and no longer just about sewage, SAS is one of the UK’s leading marine environmental charities protecting the UK’s oceans, waves and beaches for all to enjoy safely and sustainably, via community action, campaigning, volunteering, conservation, education and scientific research.

Claire is one of the local volunteer Regional Reps for SAS in Brighton and is incredibly proud to spread the powerful work that the whole SAS community undertakes. Gifting membership to someone really does help support the work of SAS on shores around the UK, plus your giftee will also receive a welcome pack of SAS goodies, 3 copies of Pipeline Magazine a year and member discounts in the SAS shop.

Support the work of SAS and gift a membership to someone who loves our beaches and oceans!

Available through the SAS website here – £4 a month or £48 annually…

(image from SAS)

 

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 20 – Urban Foraging Cocktail workshop…

Ever wondered what edible things you walk past each day in Brighton and Hove? Not sure how to spot them or what to do with them? Well, for another of post free gift options in our Eco Gift Guide, we are shamelessly plugging one of our own events, but it will be a cracker! Join us for an introduction to foraging and a few top tips of where to find useful things, culminating in a HUGELY popular foraged cocktail making session using flavours gathered from the city of Brighton itself…

This special event led by Claire Potter (claire potter design) is part of the immersive experience at Patterns Bar, Brighton. Step through a transformed mystical entrance, and discover an enchanted forest filled with nostalgic treats and immersive visual feasts inspired by Britain’s woodlands and the wild outdoors in Winter.

woodlandia_facebook-banner

The ground floor bar will be transformed into a winter wonderland reminiscent of scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia, brought to life by a multi-level digitally projected and interlinked forest, complete with softly falling snowflakes, inquisitive wild animals and scents of the forest air. Inside, you’ll find festive treats such a boozy hot chocolate menu and Hot Buttered Rum to enjoy as you watch a flock of birds fly around the room or a snow fox dart in front of you. Imagine watching the sunset from a discarded Chesterfield in Narnia with a warming cocktail in hand, dancing amongst the swirling snow in the glow of a Victorian lamppost and you will be half way to Woodlandia.

 

Claire will be leading a talk and discussion around urban foraging, but the best bit is that there will be a foraged cocktail workshop in the second half of the workshop – hands on making and sampling too!

Plus, as it is in February, the post Christmas and New Year detox will be over. The lovely cocktails we will be making use the very best of the new sprouts and shoots of the season, and as local as you can probably ever get…

Tickets on sale now – £15 per person on our Eventbrite page

(images via claire potter and woodlandia)

the Ecospot Eco Gift guide 2016 – day 19 – Magazine Brighton voucher…

Most postal dates for gifts in the UK are looming today or tomorrow, but do not panic. You can still give a gift that is thoughtful and supports good people. For instance, the joy of a new piece of print is something that should not be underestimated, but magazines can be very personal. We love discovering titles from small independent publishers – something different. Off the wall. Intriguing, or even challenging. Fortunately, we have the rather fabulous Magazine Brighton in the city, which has a fantastic selection of well known and little known publications. It is a lovely place to visit, but if you can’t make it to the store, you can still find them online…

Image result for magazine brighton

So if you know someone you loves discovering new print, then this could be the perfect gift. Stocking around 95% of the titles they have in the store, this is as good as you can get if you are not South Coast based. Search by name if you know what you are looking for, or search by category and find something new. Discovery is a wonderful thing.

Recently we discovered the Ocean issue of Wilderness, which blew us away. We also picked up a copy of the Stress Report from Do Books and also regular copies of our favourites – from Ernest Journal to Another Escape and more. We cannot fail to find something remarkable.

But as we have said, magazines are infinitely personal purchases. Grab one of the Magazine Brighton Gift Vouchers and give the gift of exploration for another.

(images via Magazine Brighton)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 18 – ticket to Pecha Kucha Brighton…

It has been said that we should be gifting experiences instead of stuff to be truly sustainable. Of course, it really does depend on what type of experience you gift, but sharing something special with a loved one will give the gift of precious memories, shared experiences and perhaps even a new skill. It could be something outdoors, something indoors, something to make you think or something to make you smile. So, for day 18 on our Eco Gift Guide we have chosen an experience close to us – tickets to volume 26 of Pecha Kucha Brighton…

Literally meaning ‘chit chat’ in Japanese, the Pecha Kucha format was dreamt up in 2003 by Tokyo based architects, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham who had had enough of watching long, tedious presentations by other architects. With just 20 slides and each slide being present for just 20 seconds, the 6 minute 40 seconds format was short, sweet and swallowable, and Pecha Kucha was born. There are now PK licence holders all over the world, replicating the format in cities across the globe.

The Brighton license is now held by Alex Leith (Viva magazine) and Zara Wood (aka Woody the illustrator and graphic designer), who present the Pecha Kucha nights every two or three months, each with a different theme. They are nights of great inspiration.

Claire has presented twice at Pecha Kucha nights in Brighton, under the themes of ‘studio’, ‘good grub’ (talking about urban foraging) and will also be presenting at the next volume of PK – under the theme of ‘RE’ on January 25th 2017. Expect people talking about REvolution, REcycling, REuse, REbellion, REsponsibilities and many other things starting with RE. It’ll be REally good. (sorry)

So why not think about popping along? Tickets are available from here and early bird options are just a fiver a piece, so will not break the bank and would be a great stocking filler. Give the gift of an experience, with a difference.

(images via Pecha Kucha Brighton)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 17 – Small Batch Coffee club subscription…

Whether you like it or not, many of us have become avid coffee lovers in the UK. Where we are based, in Brighton, you can barely walk 100m without stumbling upon another coffee shop that has only just opened. Of course, many of these are the faceless, homogeneous chains that dominate many a high street, but many of them are independent – coffee lovers turned coffee experts and baristas extraordinaire. We are lucky in Brighton too, as we have a really really nice little chain of the Small Batch Coffee Company, who do very nice coffee indeed, sourcing it directly, roasting it in Hove and preparing it with love. But what if you live outside of Brighton? Why should we get all the nice coffee? It’s day 17 on our Eco Gift Guide and we have the coffee subscription club from Small Batch Coffee…

small batch coffee club

The premise is simple. Choose how you would like the coffee to be delivered, from whole bean to espresso grind, then choose how long you would like the subscription to run – 3 or 6 months. Small Batch Coffee will then choose a different blend every fortnight for the period you have selected, grind and package it with care and send it off to an address of your choice with a little message from you.

Plus, the coffee itself is really special. Working directly with farmers to ensure coffee cherries of the highest quality, Small Batch Coffee comes in a variety of single origin and blended varieties – each with the guarantee that fair prices have been paid and there is no exploitation.

So – if you have someone further afield that you need a gift for, send them a little bit of coffee love from Brighton – they will thank you with every cup for the next three or six months…

(images via Small Batch Coffee)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 16 – McNair Mountain Shirt…

Buying clothes for someone else at Christmas is always rather tricky. Getting the size right, will they like it – and will they actually wear it and will it be used? But what if you gave a gift that not only was beautifully designed and made in Yorkshire, but a gift of a piece of clothing that would work really hard for the owner? That they could take into the elements with no fears whatsoever, that would see them through woodland walks, coastal wanders and mountain hikes? For someone that loves the outdoors, that would be a gift that would be special indeed. It’s day 16 on our Eco Gift Guide 2016 and we have chosen the beautiful Recycled Merino Wool Mountain Shirt by McNair…

Made from sustainably sourced worsted spun recycled merino wool, this tough athletically fitted shirt is water and wind resistant and also doesn’t hold odours. It has stunning detailing and comes in three, natural colours – smoke grey (above), midnight blue, and our favourite – cinder (below).

It is long enough to cover your back and the arms are long enough to go over your gloves, very much like a winter outer jacket. Mid layer or Top layer, this shirt would see you through all weathers and is a much more natural option than the synthetic, plastic coated, sealed and bright jackets that we often associate with ‘outdoor gear’.

Do we really need to coat ourselves in plastic to go outside? No.

We really like the fact that McNair do a recycled wool version too – it ticks all the boxes for us – a well made product in a responsible material that will last.

McNair mountain shirts come in a variety of fits too, for both males and females, so if the recycled merino isn’t quite their style, then take a look at the rest of the range, or give them a gift voucher so they can choose their own.

At over £300 each, they are not a frivolous buy, but it will be worth it, because a McNair Shirt is for life – not just for Christmas. 

(images via McNair shirts)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 15 – Bureo Minnow skateboard…

Despite how old we are, we are all just kids at heart. And that is exactly how it should be. Picasso got it right when he said that ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up’. Being childish is frowned upon by many, but in fact, being child-like is something that should be celebrated and encouraged. And what better way to encourage someone’s inner child than to get them a skateboard – and not just any skateboard, but one that cleans up the oceans of abandoned fishing netting? Day 15 of our Eco Gift Guide and we have the Bureo Minnow Skateboard…

As regular readers of The Ecospot will know, our own passion and research area is around marine litter – plastic based products that have no place floating (or sinking) in our oceans, causing toxicity, entanglement, ingestion and death for over 100,000 mammals and 1 million seabirds annually.

There are different sectors to the marine litter sphere – one being ALDFG, or ‘Abandoned, Lost or Discarded Fishing Gear’, which encompasses everything from nets to traps. If left in the oceans, these nets carry on fishing, hence their other name of ‘ghost gear’. But, people are realising not only the issues with ghost gear, but the opportunities too. This is a material that can be harvested – and reused if you think laterally. 

This is exactly what the fabulous Bureo products are made from – recovered nylon 6 fishing nets from Chile, that are de-polymerised and re-polymerised into plastic nurdles that can then be injection moulded into new things. From skateboards to sunglasses, Bureo makes stuff from old nets. I was rather taken with the sunglasses too whilst at the recent Global Ghost Gear Initiative conference…

At the time of writing, Bureo has recovered and reused 155,040 square feet of fishing net, with each skateboard utilising 30 square feet of netting alone – the very first marine litter skateboard.

Paired with wheels made from vegetable oil, solid trucks and ABEC 7 bearings, this little cruiser board is not only a really well considered, sustainable skateboard, it is VERY fast and great fun. We know. We have one in the studio (for research purposes. Honest. ahem.)

So – if you know someone who loves our oceans too, or needs their inner child re-kindling, then get them a Bureo Minnow Skateboard. They will be the first to suggest ‘a walk’ on Christmas Day, but they certainly won’t be walking. For the Oceans!

*** PS – they are also currently on sale at Surfdome in the UK – from £87.99 – £124.99! ***

(all images via Surfdome)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 14 – Ernest Journal bundles…

We were having a conversation in the studio today about how hard it is to truly escape at Christmas time. With family, friends and even distant relatives coming out of the woodwork to say hello and share a mince pie or two, it can get rather overwhelming and well, just a bit too much. But a great way to sneak off for a bit of quiet is to have an excuse – and the best one we came up with was to have something to read. And the top of our list? Always the fantastic Ernest Journal…

Ernest Journal issue 4

Self describing as a ‘journal for curious and adventurous gentlefolk’, Ernest Journal is also ‘a guide for those who appreciate true craftsmanship, who are fascinated by curious histories and eccentric traditions and who care more for timeless style than trends.’ Ah. A perfect tonic against all things over complicated, over packaged and over priced. Goodbye relentless consumerism and depressing news – I want to learn about the traditional carvings of native Icelanders, or solagraphy.

The completish Ernest Journal bundle

With matt finish paper stock that sets off the stunning imagery in a staggering way, this is no magazine to be ploughed through (although ploughing may be kind of story you could find in Ernest). No – it is something to be savoured, like a bloody nice glass of whisky. Take your time and read it like a book – preferably in a comfy chair next to a fire.

Eastern Biological x Ernest Journal: The cabinet of curiosity gift bundle

So if you are looking for an excuse to disappear this Christmas, or know someone who will thank you dearly for such a precious and beautiful get-out-of-partygames card, then look no further than Ernest Journal. Whether it is a gift subscription for the biannual printed journal alone, or one of the limited edition gift bundles available for the season, Ernest will be your saviour this season.

PS – It will be ours too.

*but get in quick – last orders for gift bundles need to be in by midday 16th December!)

(images via Ernest Journal)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide – day 13 – Parkminster candles…

Like it or not, there is a particular smell to Christmas. Something spicy and fragrant, possibly spiked with oranges and pine, or even boozy… Christmas has a smell. And of course, whilst we can create these smells by making orange pomanders, bringing fresh pine boughs indoors and continually having mulled wine on the bubble, to be honest, time, space and health need to be considered. So, scented candles are the way forward for many, but as we well know, not all candles are made equal. It’s day 13 of our Eco Gift Guide and we have selected the best candles we know – by Parkminster, in Sussex.

Large Votive Candle

Hand made, hand poured and beautifully packaged, these soy based candles are scented with intense, natural essences in a variety of interesting combinations that we are yet to find anywhere else.

From Bonfire (smoky and woody), to Mandarin Spice and Rosemary and Basil, there are some very Christmassy smells in the Parkminster range.

Ceramic Bowl Candle - Kiln Collection - Parkminster Products

Plus, the candles come in a variety of sizes and formats, from the tumbler sized votives to small tin candles and large bowl candles – but each ‘container’ is selected for a second use, so when they are all burnt out you do not have to ditch them. Reuse the tin. Drink from the tumbler. Plant up the bowl.

Tin Candle

So – if you enjoy a candle at this time of year (and frankly, with all the hygge hype that is sweeping the UK – who doesn’t), then take a look at the very beautiful and very reasonable candles from Parkminster…

Check out their online store here...

(all images by Parkminster)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 12 – TOMS shoes

At this time of year, it is often the giving of gifts that people get excited about. Sure, receiving something lovely is also very nice, but seeing someone open a gift that you have thought long and hard about – their reaction, their joy… that is something to behold. It warms the cockles and spreads the love. But what if you can give a gift that gives again? These are special gifts, so for day 12 of our Eco Gift Guide we are featuring some things from TOMS, who give one for every one you buy. Simple.

black dotted wool men’s TOMS £44.99

And surely there can be nothing simpler. Buy a pair of shoes (or a pair of glasses or a bag) and TOMS will replicate your purchase, giving someone in need a pair of shoes, sight restoring treatment or equipment and training to allow a safe birth. One for one.

rust multi stripe women’s TOMS £41.99

Of course, this is not the only charity gift that you can give that gives to someone you will never meet, but giving a pair of shoes and someone else receiving a pair too is simple. And you have a tangible thing to give, unlike a virtual goat, for instance, which I have seen received with mixed reactions, however well intended.

maxwell matte black sunglasses £59.99

I recently read the story of TOMS by founder Blake Mycoskie, and it struck me that not only was the story one of hope, but that it made the very best of our western consumerist ways and that it just made sense. It was the first time the model had been used, but it made sense. For the people making the shoes, to the people buying the shoes and the people benefiting from a free pair of shoes that would honestly change their lives.

black metallic burlap women’s TOMS £31.49

How often do we hear people talk about how a ‘thing’ changed their life? A new phone? An item of clothing even? Hearing the truly humbling stories of people whose lives have really been changed is a powerful thing. Plus, there is a sale on at the moment, so d’you know what? Buy two pairs. I just did.

birch critters canvas TOMS £29.99

So – if you are looking for a great pair of ethically made shoes, glasses or a bag to give to someone this Christmas as a gift – look at TOMS. Your gift will be doubled.

Now imagine the look of joy and appreciation on someone’s face on Christmas Day when you tell them that. 

(all images via TOMS – all prices right at time of post)