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)

It’s the Surfers Against Sewage Autumn Beach Clean Series 2016!

It’s finally here! From 24th – 30th October, at beaches all across the UK, the Surfers Against Sewage Autumn Beach Clean Series will be mobilising thousands of volunteers at over 250 venues to clean up the scourge that is marine litter – and particularly plastic, which remains in the environment indefinitely…

Here in Brighton and Hove, we have a fantastic 5 cleans taking place, starting on Saturday 22nd October and running till Sunday 30th October, with a huge bumper beach clean and party courtesy of the English Disco Lovers at Hove Lawns.

brighton-sas-autumn beach clean -poster-16-small

As Claire is one of three new volunteer Regional Reps for SAS in Brighton and Hove, we will be running the beach clean on Monday 24th October from 12-3pm, starting at the beach behind the King Alfred in Hove.

So – come along! Pop in for 10 minutes or three hours – whatever you can manage, and help on a beach clean to spread the word about marine litter. And if you’re not in the Brighton and Hove area do not despair – check the main Surfers Against Sewage Events page to find a clean near you…

(images by claire potter, SAS and Creative Bloom)

France to ban all single use plastics by 2020…

Last week there was rather a large announcement in the world of plastics. France is to ban all single use plastics such as cups, plates and cutlery by 2020, and is the first country in the world to do so. Retailers and suppliers will have from now until the 2020 deadline to rethink their single use plastic lines to ensure that anything labelled as ‘disposable’ can be composted in a domestic setting (and not just in the higher temperatures of a municipal composting setting).

Black Fork 1

Now, this is pretty huge news. First off, this is not that far in the future. Just three years. Plus, it appears to be relatively solid with few, if any immediate loopholes. We are sure that some manufacturers will try to find the wriggle room however… (just like The Card Factory in the UK, who cut the handles off their plastic bags, turning them into ‘sacks’ to avoid the 5p plastic bag charge…) So it is no surprise that the packaging industry in France has already claimed that this new ban infringes European free trade laws.

But like many drives, this is not without it’s flaws. Whilst removing single use plastics such as cutlery and cups from the market, even using biodegradable alternatives have their drawbacks. The land use that is required to make the base materials of biodegradable plastics such as maize is considerable, and there are also reports of how these ‘degradable’ materials do not break down properly in other settings, such as the ocean.

So what is the answer? Using reusables is certainly the way forward – the ‘zero waste’ movement has been gaining more momentum over the past few years as people recognise that any waste – be it plastic or otherwise – could, and should be avoided. Taking a spork, or small cutlery set is the way forward, yet this means a considerable behaviour change from the on-the-run convenience food that we have become accustomed to.

Yet nothing happens unless you start, so France – we applaud you – and hope that other countries follow in your plastic free wake…

It’s Zero Waste Week – here are our top 5 zero waste tips…

We cannot believe it’s been a year since the last one, but Zero Waste Week is here! Founded by the fantastic Rachelle Strauss, the first full week of September each year is dedicated to Zero Waste – really trying to think about the waste that we all produce, and making positive changes that will hopefully last for the rest of the year. Look at the fantastic Zero Waste Week website for lots of tips, but to get you started, here are a few from us at The Ecospot…

1 – ditch the single use water bottles. This is a very quick and easy one to start, but my goodness it makes a difference. It is estimated that we use and throw away around 5,000 plastic drinks bottles every 15 seconds in the UK – the majority of which does not make it into the recycling stream. So – ditch the single use bottle and get a nice reusable bottle, like this stainless steel one by Klean Kanteen for Surfers Against Sewage.

And while you are over at Surfers Against Sewage, why not sign the online petition for the campaign Message in a Bottle, which is calling the UK Government to introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles to get them recycled and out of landfill and the ocean! (PS – claire is a rep for SAS in Brighton now too!)

2 – say no to plastic straws! Ah, summer. The time of lazy afternoons slurping iced drinks in an effort to cool ourselves down. Except that plastic straw is a terrible example of single use plastics (SUP’s) – used for a tiny amount of time and then thrown away. Bonkers. Given that we go to so much effort to extract oil, isn’t it crazy that we use it for things like straws? So – as they say – just say no. Or bring your own – you can get some rather marvellous stainless steel straws that you can use again and again…

Image result for stainless steel straws

3 – get a reusable coffee cup… spotting a theme here? The quickest, easiest and often most effective way to get into Zero Waste habits is to look at the disposable things in your life and find an alternative. Recently, the television programme Hugh’s War on Waste, fronted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall demonstrated how many coffee cups are discarded in the UK every year (around 2.5 billion). It also demonstrated how many people were optimistically putting them into recycling bins not knowing that a thin layer of polyethylene on the inner surface of the cup meant that it was not recyclable. Taking your own coffee cup can be a bit of a behaviour change at first, but once you are in the routine of sticking it in your bag (or leaving your house in the morning with a cup of tea / coffee in it), you will soon get into the habit. Plus, you can often show your support for your favourite charity and perhaps even get a discount on your coffee too. (Sea Shepherd cup from Keep Cup – £14)

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4 – make your own lunch. And take it in a reusable container… We’ve done drinks. Now for the food. Buying your lunch out will not only cost more money, but the packaging that comes with ‘convenience’ is hard to swallow. Little plastic forks, endless wrapping, separate dressing tubs – it all adds up to a huge amount of waste. By making your own you are also tackling Zero Waste on two fronts – stopping buying stuff covered in single use plastic and probably eating something that may otherwise have ended up in the bin. Yesterdays leftovers. We really like stainless steel containers for our lunch, but a plastic tub will do to.

Image result for stainless steel tiffin box

5 – wash your face with a cloth. Not a face wipe. We remember as children being pestered by our mothers to wash our faces with our flannels. We each had one on a different coloured piece of ribbon and mum would soon know if we hadn’t as it would be as stiff as a board. And still, to this day, it’s one of the first things we do every day. But with the advent of ‘convenience’ there are many options when it comes to washing our faces, most notably and wastefully, the face wipe. These synthetic inventions are mostly not biodegradable and are a main contributor to marine waste. So – get a face cloth instead and use it each day. Team it up with a nice microbead free face wash and you’re set.

Image result for face cloth

So – there is our very quick and very easy Top 5 Tips for Zero Waste Week. We are sure that you can think of plenty more and do head over to Rachelle’s main website for Zero Waste Week to see lots more tips.

(images via associated links)

SPOTTED – plastic bag landscapes by Vilde Rolfsen…

Once upon a time, many moons ago, the mountains were my home. For a whole winter season I was in awe of the vast natural landscape, how many colours snow actually can be (hint – not just white) and how quickly the environment can change. Because of this, images of mountains have a special place in my heart and mind – and the images from Vilde Rolfsen stirred something in me. Except these gorgeous landscapes are not natural at all: if anything they are the complete opposite. They are made from plastic bags.

Series of photographs created by photographing plastic bags

The irony is not lost. Rolfsen wants us to realise the implications of our decisions, however small, and the impact the scale of these decisions have on our local and wider environment. The ‘Plastic Bag Landscapes’ series are a collection of bittersweet images made from the worst of all discarded synthetic waste – plastic.

Series of photographs created by photographing plastic bags

All picked up whilst in the UK, the plastic bags were cleaned, arranged, lit and coloured in the studio – and made to look like Tolkeinesque landscapes, which are stunning, yet awful, as Rolfsen comments in the series.

“Plastic bags are a huge contributor to the landfill waste and are extremely harmful for our oceans and the creatures living there. Do not say yes to a plastic bag when shopping.”

Series of photographs created by photographing plastic bags

And what is particularly successful about these pieces is that they are genuinely beautiful. The material and subtext certainly isn’t, but creating something that people want to engage with, rather than being immediately repulsed by is a far more powerful thing to do. The message hits home harder when people realise what they are  – and why you have done it. We found this repeatedly when we exhibited our Ghost Gear Chandelier at Clerkenwell Design Week in 2016, made from recovered marine litter.

“When I have exhibited my work, people would come up to me and say, ‘I’ve been looking at this for a while and while it is beautiful I feel disgusted with myself because I now understand what this work is about,’” Rolfsen said in a recent interview with the Huffington Post “I think that sums it up pretty nicely.”

Vilde Rolfsen plastic bags 4

Realisation and subsequent behaviour change can be tricky and even though we now have the plastic bag charge in the UK, there are still multiple places that do not have to impose a charge – or of course, the option of buying another single use plastic bag.

So when you are posed with that situation again, think of the beautifully awful Plastic Bag Landscape series by Vilde Rolfsen and ask yourself – do you want your actions to be part of this?

(images courtesy of Vilde Rolfsen)

Remarkable Magazine – does exactly what its says on the tin…

We love print. Ok – perhaps it is not the most eco friendly of reading choices, but there is something quite special about the whole experience that cannot be replicated online. The feel, the smell, the touch. And so, we often frequent the wonderful store Magazine Brighton, which stocks a dizzying array of short run, independent and overseas publications – always on the look out for something gorgeous. Our latest find is very special indeed – Remarkable Magazine – which has the tagline ‘Live better. Harm less.’ We were sold.

Cover2

So what is Remarkable?
‘Remarkable is a digital gallery, magazine and marketplace showcasing remarkable humans doing and making remarkable things to help people live better and harm less.
We understand that our global population grows while resources shrink, but we believe the solution lies in making simple, graceful and thoughtful choices. Our mission is to inform when you ask why, inspire when you ask how and be there when you’re ready to make a remarkable change.’

And it does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a remarkable read, with inspirational features, beautiful infographics, wonderful calls to action and a very nice design. From fast fashion to Being an Unfucker (more of that in another post…), to smart cities and moving yourself more.

It is an eco magazine for the design conscious.

This may seem a rather odd statement, but in actual fact, despite the fantastic contemporary, sustainable and circular economy designs that are happening all over the globe, by many different types of designers for all sorts of reasons, quite often sustainable designs / products are segmented into a special ‘green’ edition of a design publication, or collected into an ‘eco page’.

Remarkable showcases the range and variety of design led sustainability throughout – without being preachy.

We loved it.

But, with only two issues per year, we are going to have to wait a little more time till we can get out next print fix. In the meantime, we will be keeping a close eye on their online features over here, so ask yourself – do you want to be Remarkable too?

REMARKΔBLE from Remarkable on Vimeo.

(images via Remarkable)

why we still love EU…

The people have spoken. Britain is set to leave the EU. As we wrote last week, we were very strongly in the Remain camp, and this decision has left us all shocked and saddened, to say the very least. We still love EU.

EU window

Now, we simply do not know what will happen to the UK. We do not know what ‘deals’ will be struck, the policies that will be adopted and those that will be discarded. We have a currency that collapsed to it’s lowest levels in over 30 years, political parties in upheaval and a huge increase in racist outbursts that some people seem to think is now acceptable.

It is not. 

But whist we are shaken to our cores, there is much to be done. We need to ensure that we fight again to keep policies that have done us so much good as part of the EU – particularly with regards to our environment and workers rights – and that we do not let whoever governs us to sweep them aside and drag us into a backward spiral faster than we are already teetering. We need to pull together to show the world that we are not a country led blindly by far right wing, racists who peddle fear and who would promise you a unicorn to get your vote. We are better than that.

We will always think of ourselves as Europeans. We are Remainians.

We still love EU.   

creating the perfect capsule wardrobe…

There are many things that make up the world of ‘sustainable design’ – from energy efficiency to reusing materials, and when you look at ‘sustainable lives’ we have everything from zero waste living to clean seasonal eating. 50 shades of green perhaps. However, a massive shift we have noticed of late is directed towards ‘decluttering’, with books and websites giving us tools and tips for removing (and recycling / reusing, obviously) the things we do not really need. And creating the perfect capsule wardrobe is a good place to start.

Imagine getting up and looking into a clear and clean wardrobe where everything co-ordinates across the seasons? No more hunting for a perfect outfit – the capsule wardrobe does it for you.

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But were our wardrobes always as stuffed full as they are now? No. Women in the 1950’s had an average of 36 items in their wardrobes – women today average around 122 or so. And whilst all of my own clothes come from charity shops, I can certainly relate to that figure. *ahem*

So why the increase? Well, in the 50’s, clothes were an investment – they cost more and were chosen carefully. They were also cared for and repaired. Fast forward to today and we have a ravenous appetite for fast fashion where buying a new piece of clothing does not need to be a huge decision. It’s so cheap it can be throwaway.

Buying stuff secondhand has many advantages – it is cheaper than new (so you can afford a better quality item for the same price), you have the thrill of finding something unique and of course, it has huge environmental benefits. But you can still have too many things stuffed into your (secondhand) wardrobe – as is aptly shown by our #secondhandhaul tag we use when we get something (most) weekends…

But putting together a true capsule wardrobe is a tricky thing. I’ve mastered the travel capsule wardrobe, but not the daily one.

But hang on. There is an app for that. Enter Capsules by Cladwell. Still in beta stage, the app helps you to put together a set of ingredients for the sort of of capsule wardrobe that you need.

capsule wardrobe

What is interesting to note is that this is a paid subscription style app, at $5 a month, presumably so you can add in any ‘new’ purchases and ensure your capsule wardrobe remains true to itself. And you look like you can save multiple capsule wardrobes too, for different seasons perhaps…

So – could it be worth a go? As a guide to really help you be ruthless with a clear out and a guide when you are shopping – or charity shopping, it could be really useful. Would we continue to use it? Perhaps.

capsule wardrobe 2

Very much like the fitness apps – we think Capsules by Cladwell works by being your constant reminder. Think before you buy. Good advice we think…

Let us know if you are already a Capsule user – and check out the video below which explains all…

Why we are voting to REMAIN in the EU…

Never talk about religion or politics. The standard dinner party etiquette that many adhere to as quite frankly, they are the largest confrontation points we could have in general conversation. Not everyone wants to discuss the finer details of China’s one child policy over a prawn cocktail. And to some point, this is fine, but we live in political times and with the EU referendum coming to a climax, we thought we would state our views. We want to remain in the EU. And we are proudly flying the flags in the window of the studio.

Studio Loo Vote Remain

There are many reasons for this, but as our studio concerns are related to circular economy design and marine litter, we can safely say that all things environmental are very much in our life and work ethic. We try to do stuff not better, but best wherever we can – from where our studio energy comes from to the materials we specify on our project. We feel we are a tiny bit of a much larger whole. A global whole.

Because sometimes we think that people forget that we are all spinning on the same planet – regardless what corner we are in, the language we speak or the gods we pray to – if any. Borders can be raised, but planet Earth has her own agenda which flows, heats and cools with no thought to these barriers. From our seas to our air – everything is connected in ways we are only just starting to understand.

And the more we know, the scarier the picture is being painted. We truly believe that we can only begin to tackle the global issues of environmental degradation, extinction, waste and climate change if we work together. In fact, a huge amount of positive environmental regulation and reform has come about from the formation of the EU, let alone the peaceful foundations.

If we leave the EU, we are separating ourselves out at a time we need to be working together on so many huge issues. There is no ‘I’m alright Jack’. Sorry. You won’t be.

Take a choir. You will have an end goal in sight – perhaps a prestigious concert, but at the first rehearsal each voice and part gets some bits right and some bits wrong even if you have the same song sheet. It sounds like a shambles and you can despair, but you try again. It sounds better. You turn to your neighbour who can sing a bit you’re having trouble with and they give you some tips. Next time round, you get that bit right too. So does the person in front of you. Little by little, things come together and before long, the glorious harmonies far outweigh the bum notes. But this only comes with working together. The person that wandered off to rehearse on their own is still bumbling though the tricky passages.

So. We are voting to Remain in the EU, because we want to be better singers in the choir of Planet Earth. Come sing with us.

Join us on World Oceans Day…

Today – June 8th – is World Oceans Day – a day where we can all come together and pledge to do something fantastic for our oceans, beaches, marine life and coastal regions. It is something that is very close to our hearts and has driven our studio product and material research for a good couple of years. We showed the first round of our creations at Clerkenwell Design Week this year – from a chandelier created with the World Cetacean Alliance to concept products and jewellery made from beach cleans with Surfers Against Sewage and Parley.

And we have only just got started. As they say – watch this space…

marine litter claire potter design clerkenwell design week 2016 5

PS – want to get your hands on some of the stuff we’ve been creating recently from marine plastic? Look out for a little giveaway comp we will be running on Twitter and Instagram today too!

World Oceans Day marine litter claire potter design clerkenwell design week 2016 8So – will you join us and create a pledge for World Oceans Day? Take a look below for how to get involved…

(video by claire potter design – graphics by World Oceans Day)

Thunderclap it with Selfridges for World Ocean Day…

We can all be part of the sea change: support #ProjectOcean for World Ocean Day and make the #OneLess pledge to ditch single-use plastic water bottles. Because plastic pollution is NEVER en vogue.

World Oceans Day Pledge

We’ve pledged – click below to add your profile to the campaign and we can all tell people together that we are together…

Saltwater Brewery’s new ‘edible’ six-pack rings…

Next week, we will be up at Clerkenwell Design Week, exhibiting in the Platform House of Detention venue with our concept products created from marine waste we have recovered from the beaches of Brighton. We will be talking A LOT about marine plastic and it’s impact on our global oceans, so it is actually quite timely that there is a good news project which is aiming to mitigate these impacts. Meet the new, edible six-pack rings from US based Saltwater Brewery…

This brewery now makes beer with edible six-pack rings

Created from the by-product of the brewing process, the new style rings will break down naturally in the environment and provide food, rather than toxic laced plastic for marine animals to snack on. Given the fact that around 6.5 billion cans of beer were drunk in the USA last year, that amounts to a great deal of plastic can rings – many of which would have ended up in the oceans. This alternative, Saltwater Brewery claim, could actually become cost effective if adopted by large scale manufacturers – matching not only the price of plastic rings, but the strength also.

This, of course, is great news. If plastic could be removed from the beer can waste stream, then a long standing entanglement problem could have been eliminated, but there is a bigger issue here.

Brewery makes edible beer rings

If we are creating stuff that CAN be thrown into our oceans with no problems, are we not reinforcing what is, really, a negative behaviour? How can we expect people to differentiate between what is ok to chuck in the sea and what is not? Of course, if this new edible six-pack rings DO end up in the ocean, there is no harm done, but is this solution the best possible action?

Brewery makes edible beer rings

Of course, there is no right answer. We applaud an industry taking responsibility for what is a huge environmental issue caused by their products. This is certainly better. But is it best? We are not sure.

(image from Saltwater Brewery / We Believe / Caters)

friday photo – the environmental impact of products…

Friday photo no3 – the environmental impact of products…

environmental impact of products

(image by claire potter design)

friday photo – more plastic than fish by 2050?

Friday photo no2 – will there be more plastic than fish by 2050?

more plastic than fish by 2050

(image by claire potter design)

friday photo – Three Climate Change offenders…

Friday photo no 1: three climate change offenders…

three climate change offenders

(image by claire potter)