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)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 11 – recycled bouncy castle tote bag from SAS

We are big fans of giving gifts that are useful, and that promote a bit of positive behaviour change. When the 5p plastic bag levy was introduced in October 2105, many people moaned that they would just not be able to remember a reusable bag, but fast forward to July 2016 – just six months in, and single use plastic bag use dropped 85% in the UK. That is quite staggering. So if we are all taking our reusable bags to the shops most of the time, a gift of a reusable bag that is a little different from the norm could be a perfect option. It’s day 11 on our Eco Gift Guide and we have selected the Bouncy Castle Tote Bag from Surfers Against Sewage…

Made on the Isle of Wight by designers Wyatt and Jack, co-branded with an SAS logo and the ‘Break the Bag Habit’ tagline, these fantastic, strong tote bags are made from actual bouncy castles that have been retired from use.

Available in 7 different colours, the tote bags feature strong black webbing handles and measure a very useful 35cm x 35cm. Plus, by the nature of the material, the bag has a waterproof outer, so is perfect for sitting on the floor or using as a kit bag.

We love these bags as they use materials that have a great nostalgic link, and make advantage of their strength, colour, waterproof nature and hard wearing qualities. They will last a very long time!

Plus, these bags are a great choice if you need to post a gift to someone – flat, unbreakable and very useful…

Get yours for £12 a piece through the Surfers Against Sewage shop here.

(images via SAS)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 10 – honeycomb necklace by Beetle Cherry…

This weekend, we have the very last two days of opening for our Artists Open Houses at Studio Loo – and the fantastic Beetle Cherry is one of our special guest designers. With a ‘illustrated wildlife park’ and percentages of profits going to wildlife conservation charities, the prints, activity kits and jewellery of Beetle Cherry not only looks good, it does good too. It’s day 10 of our Eco Gift Guide and today, we have a lovely jewellery set as our selection…

geometric wood necklace

Finding clear inspiration from the bees themselves, we totally fell in love with this necklace – a trio of hexagons arranged like a honeycomb in a stripped back, sustainably sourced birch timber. Hand finished, the honeycomb hangs from an antique style chain and comes complete in an organic cotton bag for just £10.

Slightly abstract and infinitely sophisticated, this necklace would look excellent with a plain black top… plus, if you want to go completely bee, you can also get a pair of matching hexagon earrings for £6.

wooden earrings handmade

With 10% of all profits of the sales of these items going to the Sussex Wildlife Trust, this is a fantastic gift for both wildlife and jewellery lovers alike.

AND until 19th December, all products have free UK Shipping! Fantastic!

Find more of the Beetle Cherry range here

(images via Beetle Cherry)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 9 – mini cacti from Hi Cacti…

There is something rather wonderful about having living things around you. It is simply not natural for us to only inhabit spaces that are synthetic – man-made buildings, interiors and structures where the only thing that is alive is us. Fortunately, many designers are realising the uplifting and positive benefits of having life in our buildings and biophilia, the integration of natural light, natural materials and plants is gaining more practitioners. Unfortunately, many people think that they are just not blessed with green fingers, so steer away from green companions in their spaces. This does not have to be the case. There are plenty of plants that require very little care and attention – it’s day 9 on our Eco Gift Guide and we have the rather fantastic little cacti of Hi Cacti…

Concrete Planter, Cactus/ Succulent Plant Pot, Handmade, Turquoise, Tall Size- Includes Cactus or Succulent

With a very TexMex feel, the hand cast concrete pots of Hi Cacti feature contrasting bands of colours and metallics, perfectly complimenting the different living inhabitants – each one chosen specially to match the pot itself by cactus queen and owner, Sabina Palermo.

With pale blues to deep blacks and warm coppers, there is definitely a cactus for anyone. Plus, by their very nature, they thrive on almost no care and attention at all. A light mist of water now and then, and barely anything in winter, cactus are the most forgiving of all the plants you could choose.

Concrete Planter, Cactus/ Succulent Plant Pot, Handmade, Cream White, Tall Size- Includes Cactus or Succulent

And they LAST. At this time of year, the shops are stuffed with all manner of plants that are bold and brash, covered with glitter or apologetically seasonal. Whilst these fellows will brighten your life for a short spell, cactus will be a chum for life, with just a little love.

Concrete Planter, Cactus/ Succulent Plant Pot, Handmade, Copper Bronze, Tall Size- Includes Cactus or Succulent

So, if you want to give someone the gift of life this Christmas, why not consider the lovely little fellows at Hi Cacti?

*** PS – we have a little selection of the Hi Cacti range at our Artists Open House – last weekend 10/11th December, 11-5! ***

(images via Hi Cacti)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 8 – Lulu by Designosaur…

It’s day 8 already on our Ecospot Eco Gift Guide and we have chosen a very special gift indeed. We are all about the strong statements, and if you know someone who also has something to say and doesn’t mind being stopped at least three times a day to be asked where they got their necklace from, the strong, bold laser cut jewellery of Designosaur should be on your radar. With a range ranging from duck billed platypus to velociraptors, via Miami beachfront cafes and a barrel full of monkeys, Designosaur’s designs are wonderfully individual and creative. But for day 8, we are featuring a very special necklace in their range – the wonderful Lulu…

Orca Necklace. Killer Whale Statement Necklace. Whale Pendant. Endangered Species Necklace. World Cetacean Alliance Fundraising Jewellery

Named after a real UK orca that became entrapped in abandoned ghost gear, Lulu is a necklace that tells a story –  a story where over 100,000 mammals a year lose their lives due to becoming caught, or ingesting synthetic netting, rope and other plastic based debris. From the turquoise net that is laid over her body to the beach cleaned rope from which she hangs, Lulu is a necklace with a deep meaning.

Made as a fundraising piece for the World Cetacean Alliance, Lulu is an orca with a mission, with 25% of every sale going directly to WCA to aid in global cetacean protection.

I am lucky enough to have a Lulu, and I have lost count of the times I have been approached by complete strangers, asking about her and what she means. Telling the story of her creation and why marine litter is one of the most pressing issues we have for both our oceans and ourselves is a tale that breaks my heart yet gives me hope that people will also re-tell the same story and change will ripple out.

So – we are delighted to feature this very special necklace on our Eco Gift Guide today. It is a gift that gives back in so many ways…

*** PS we have ONE Lulu left at our studio for the Artist’s Open Houses – last weekend 10/11th December ***

(image by Designosaur)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 7 – Get Lost print by Hello Dodo…

Ah, Christmas. A time of joy, seasonal cheer and unbounded love for all, everywhere. Except it is not. It is stressful, rushed and often full of get togethers with people you haven’t seen all year, but somehow feel obligated to because it is Christmas. Bah. Wouldn’t it be nice to be out of the thick of it all, hidden away in a calm and peaceful setting… whilst also telling people to just leave you alone. If you feel the same as us sometimes in the season, or know someone who does, you need this fantastic print by Hello Dodo in your life. It’s day 7 on our Eco Gift Guide and we have chosen the ‘Get Lost’ series by design duo Hello Dodo…

Get Lost Tote Bag, Funny Tote Bag, Adventure Print, Mountain Print, Screen Print Bag, Cute Shopper, Explore Print, Cute Tote Bag, Fun Gift

Often with cheeky double meanings, the bright and cheerful work of South Coast based Hello Dodo never fails to raise a smile, but we really love their new Get Lost collection. It has that classic vintage nod, but is not taking itself too seriously.

Get Lost Embroidered Patch, Funny Iron On Patch, Explore Patch, Mountain Patch, Hiking Patch, Nature Patch, Country Patch, Adven

Plus, the design is available in a whole raft of different configurations, to suit all types of people who either want to get lost themselves – or want to send a bit of a message to others.

Get Lost Sweater, Get Lost Jumper, Cosy Grey Sweater, Christmas Sweater, Mountain Jumper, Funny Sweater, Adventure Explore Sweater Jumper

Slightly glittery blue prints to patches, tote bags to jumpers, there is something for all. And to prove this, we had a visitor to Studio Loo – our open studio for the Brighton Artists’ Open Houses, (where Hello Dodo are featured) from Sweden who is well into his 80’s and he happily trotted off with a Get Lost tote after we explained to him the double meaning. He was very much looking forward to telling all his friends to Get Lost when he got home. Her wandered off roaring with laughter.

So. Get Lost with Hello Dodo. Seriously. Get Lost.

All items available (at time of posting) through the Hello Dodo Etsy Shop here. 

(image via Hello Dodo)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide – day 6 – M-24 bags…

Designing something with a ‘waste’ material makes perfect sense – especially if that material is already into it’s second life. Keeping materials at their highest possible quality is key to the success of the circular economy – and also recognising what the material strengths are. So, bags and accessories made from truck tarpaulins? Perfect sense. It’s day 6 of our Eco Gift Guide and today we are choosing the lovely stuff of M-24 bags…

eco-gift-guide-day-6-m-24-bags-3

With a great range of backpacks, messenger bags, wallets and accessories, M-24 create one off pieces from recovered UK truck tarpaulins that harness the very qualities a truck tarp has – strong, bright, waterproof.

eco-gift-guide-day-6-m-24-bags-2

This means that each product is an individual thing – a term that M-24 have dubbed ‘anti-lemmingism’. We all want to be seen as individuals, but unless we have the ability to make our own stuff, this is a better option than the mass produced, cheaply made, high mark-up alternatives on the market.

eco-gift-guide-day-6-m-24-bags-4

Plus, by not supplying retailers, but making their products available only through their website, pop-ups and their brand spanking new flagship store in Brighton, they are able to keep their prices very reasonable indeed as the retailer mark-up is eliminated. This also means that the cost of the high level finish and manufacturing techniques undertaken in the UK is feasible and products are available from just £5 for a keychain.

Eco Gift Guide M-24 store brighton, relcaimed tarpaulin bags brighton
M-24 Brighton, 15 Gardner Street, Brighton

A great business model – and great products. Perfect for someone who needs their luggage to be robust and trustworthy, waterproof and individual. And what could be better than telling someone their Christmas pressie has been made in the UK and it is the ONLY one in the world?

Anti-lemmingism is the way forward.

(images via M-24)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 1 – Patagonia Powder Town Beanie

Well, where has this year gone? It seems like only yesterday that we were putting together our Eco Gift Guide for last Christmas… But, here we are – pinch punch – on the 1st December already. So – looking for an eco gift, an ethical gift or a sustainable seasonal present for a loved one? Stay tuned for the next 24 days as we open the doors on 24 things that we would be delighted to find in our stockings this year. There will be stuff for all budgets and tastes, with all things made with love by nice people…

So – for day 1 on our Eco Gift Guide we have… a Patagonia Powder Town Silver Birch Beanie.

eco-gift-guide-day-1-patagonia-powder-town-beanie

With the temperature plummeting in the UK, we have been digging out our hats over the last few days, but if you know someone who is in need of a new woolly to keep their head toasty, this is a rather nice one indeed.

As many of you will know, we are huge fans of Patagonia here in the studio – not only for their well made clothing, but for their material choices and dedication to longevity and repair. Plus their recent drive for Black Friday saw them increase their usual 1% For The Planet contributions to 100% for the whole day – resulting in a staggering $10 million being spread by Patagonia amongst grass roots environmental charities. Wow. 

This lovely Powder Town Beanie is made from recycled polyester with a bit of elastane for a comfortable stretch, in the classic white and grey that will suit everyone. A bobble for a bit of fun, a cosy head and a great company to support.

Get yours now from Surfdome in the UK, where you can pick it up for a very reasonable £25.59 + P+P. check it out here.

(image via Surfdome)

Monday Makers – Smile Plastics…

Today on Monday Makers we have the fantastic Smile Plastics, who we love here in the studio. With innovative recycled plastic sheets of all types, they are the first people we turn too when we need to specify plastics. We actually have a project in Brighton on site at the moment where we have used one of their recycled plastic sheets… watch this space. So – who are Smile Plastics?


Hello there! Please tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Smile Plastics reimagines waste into decorative art materials used by designers and architects around the world for products, interiors and displays. It’s been going since 1994 and was one of the first companies globally to recycle plastics, gaining a strong reputation for its striking aesthetics and exquisite quality. The business stopped trading from 2011-2015 but has recently been taken on by two designers, relauching a core range of panels at London Design Week 2015. The business is now run by a very small dynamic team out of several locations across England and Wales and we’re hoping to consolidate over the next year.

Sustainable chopping board recycled plastics by Smile Plastics

What do you make?

Our core business is making 100% recycled plastic panels. We have a classics collection of materials made from a range of waste streams such as plastic bottles and yoghurt pots and we also work with clients to create bespoke materials based on their preferred waste stream, colour palette or pattern. We’re increasingly also offering design and build services and hope to focus on this more in the future.

yoghurt-detail-3-feb16-lowres

What is your favourite piece/thing you create, and why?

We absolutely love coffee and have been developing materials out of recycled coffee waste for a few years and offer it as a bespoke material through Smile Plastics. We have fabricated some great pieces out of the material, most recently a coffee bar at Societe Generale with a recycled bottle top and recycled coffee panelling.

smile-plastics-bottle-and-coffee-bar-at-societe-generale-for-hej-coffee-lowres

What inspires you?

We get really inspired by the language of materials, in particular the potential of waste and how our products can communicate engaging messages about sustainability to people, inspiring others to rethink waste.

What is your favourite place?

We love to be immersed in nature when we can from kitesurfing on the sea to climbing up mountains, and we’re happy to do this anywhere in the world!

Ok – you are rulers of the world for the day. What one law do you bring in?

Everything that gets made needs to be designed for recyclability so that we all operate in a full closed loop circular economy. (HEAR HEAR! – ed)

explorer-1m-wide-lowresWhat is your company motto?

It’s short and punchy: Reimagined materials designed to inspire.

Where can we see you next?

We’ve got a number of exciting projects coming up. If you haven’t made it already to the Wellcome Trust’s States of Mind exhibition then I would recommend it and they have used our yoghurt material beautifully as displays. We also have a small stand at the Surface and Materials show curated by Materials Lab in October in Birmingham so do pop along to see our materials there.

(www.smile-plastics.com / Instagram @smileplastics / Twitter @smileplastics)


a HUGE thank you to Smile Plastics – and stay tuned for our own reveal here on The Ecospot with a new studio project using lots of recycled plastic from Smile Plastics! 

(all images courtesy of Smile Plastics)

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)

Medium

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)

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)

Take away coffee cups – should they be taxed like plastic bags?

Morning in any large town or city. The streets, buses and trains are full of people winding their way sleepily to work. Needing a perk, many are carrying a take away cup of coffee from their preferred shop. The white and green of Starbucks, the maroon of Costa, the blue of Cafe Nero. Slurping down the last of the buzzy caffeine and soothing froth, the plastic lidded cups are deposited in street bins, office bins and recycling bins alike. The day begins. A typical day which sees over 2.5 billion take away coffee cups discarded in the UK each year…

Coffee to go

2.5 billion. That is a lot of paper cups and plastic lids. ‘But!’ I hear you cry, ‘they are recycled?’. Unfortunately, it is reported by Simply Cups, the UK’s only cup recycling service, that only 1 in 400 cups are actually recycled. And because the paper cups are actually coated on the inside by a very thin layer of polyethylene to enhance their coffeeproof qualities, they are not able to be recycled through normal means. If anything, they can contaminate otherwise recyclable batches of material – in circular economy terms – a monstrous hybrid of fused materials.

Design Your Own KeepCup
the KeepCup we designed using the online customisation and order tool…

One alternative is to ditch the take away cups altogether and use your own take away cups which can be reused again and again, like the Keep Cup. We are avid users of our Keep Cups, and are now in the habit of taking them pretty much everywhere with us. It is not a hassle as the sizes are barista standard, and many places offer a discount if you use your own cup. Quite often this is not advertised, but is automatic. But this week, Starbucks publicly announced such an initiative, which from April, will mean a 50p discount on your bill if you use your own take away cup. If this is ‘successful’ (and we are not sure exactly how this is being measured), it will be rolled out in more stores as a permanent feature.

KeepCup

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who has been running Hugh’s War On Waste, has been quoted as saying this is a ‘seismic leap’ from Starbucks, which could begin a real behaviour change.

Sea Shepherd

Of course, this is certainly great news, but do we need to take this further to create real behaviour change? Should the take away coffee cup be taxed in the same way as the plastic bag – and would this actively encourage people to take their own cups for refilling? What if we had to pay an extra 50p to get a disposable take away cup as well as getting a discount if we used our own?

Because the actual material in the 2.5 billion take away coffee cups that are landfilled each year is huge. And it needs to be redirected back into the system as we move to a more circular economy, and of course, reduced.

(images by Keep Cup)

our Ghost Gear Chandelier for the World Cetacean Alliance pt4…

Since December 2015, we have been working on a very lovely project for the World Cetacean Alliance, as part of a group of artists and designers responding to their ‘Untangled’ brief – a project to highlight the hugely destructive issues with ghost gear. This abandoned, discarded or lost netting, rope and filament floats about our oceans across the globe, maiming and killing marine life of all sizes, and as it is usually plastic based, the material never truly degrades.

Ghost Gear Chandelier 13

So, we have been collecting Ghost Gear from the beaches of Brighton, to create what we dubbed our Ghost Gear Chandelier – a large bubble formed light that was inspired by the ‘bubble netting’ hunting technique of some humpback whales.

Netting was found, washed, dried, washed again, washed a third time, dried again and then shredded and put into clear plastic bubbles…

Ghost Gear Chandelier 9

And now the Ghost Gear Chandelier is done.

Ghost Gear Chandelier 3

Ghost Gear Chandelier 1

The Chandelier uses a salvaged bike wheel for the main ring, with a variety of Ghost Gear filled bubbles hanging in a cascade of blues, greens and oranges.

Ghost Gear Chandelier 10 Ghost Gear Chandelier 4

The central point of light is a huge clear ball eco-filament light from Factorylux, connected to a bright blue fabric cable flex and wall plug. Hanging from chains at a height of around 1600mm, the Ghost Gear Chandelier is quite a statement- and we are delighted with it.

Ghost Gear Chandelier 7Ghost Gear Chandelier 14Ghost Gear Chandelier 5

So what now for the light? Well, as part of the Untangled project by the World Cetacean Alliance, each piece of work created by the designers and artists taking part will be auctioned off to raise funds for the issues raised by ghost gear – which includes our Ghost Gear Chandelier. Watch this space for details on the auction and also, keep your eyes peeled for our little film, which will show the making of the Ghost Gear Chandelier…

(all images by claire potter)

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)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)