Monday Makers – Two Hands Bakery…

Last week we started our brand new blog series – Monday Makers, where we start each week with a bit of a Q+A feature with someone whose work we love. We are going to be use the term ‘maker’ in the widest possible sense, and this week we are venturing into the delicious realm with Elle Johnston, of Two Hands Bakery…


Hello there! please tell us a little bit about yourselves…

Two Hands is a bakery based in East London, it was founded by me in the early months of 2016 (early days yet!) I’ve always been a voracious home baker and have spent majority of my career working in the hospitality industry – shaking cocktails, being a (pretty terrible) waitress and most recently transitioning into professional baking. I was lucky enough to work at E5 Bakehouse and Violet Bakery, amongst others, they taught me a lot about baking on a large scale. Eventually my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I decided to build something of my own.

Two hands bakery - Vanilla sliceNice, and what do you make?

We make a wide range of sweet baked goods, from spiced morning buns to rich chocolate tartlets to towering wedding cakes. The whole spectrum of sweets! All made with seasonal and local ingredients, predominantly organic too – the negative effect of the food industry on the environment is hugely important to the business and we do whatever we can to reduce our impact.

What is your favourite thing you create, and why?

My favourite thing that we make changes on an almost daily basis! I’m particularly partial to a slice of buttery almond cake at the moment and I’m also excited about perfecting my vanilla slice recipe. Outside of my greedy personal preferences, my favourite projects to work on are always the ones where I get to collaborate with people, whether it’s working with Celeste from The Girl in the Cafe pairing cakes with different coffees or co-ordinating with a couple to make a wedding cake that makes their day super special.

Two Hands Bakery - wedding cakes

What inspires you?

It’s a fairly standard foodie answer but – flavours and ingredients. Adapting to the ebb and flow of different produce available throughout the year is exciting and challenging. Figuring out how to bring out the best from an ingredient or using non-traditional techniques (vegan baking for example) is very inspiring.

What is your favourite place?

Anywhere that I can see the ocean! I’m Australian and grew up a complete water baby so find me somewhere to stare at the waves, breathe in the salty air and I’m happy.

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

Ohhh…something well thought out regarding food education. I might delegate my legislative powers to Alice Waters! (an awesome chef, writer and pioneering advocate of the local/seasonal/fresh cookery movement)

Two Hands Bakery - Choc tart

What is your personal motto?

“I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe” – it’s a line from my favourite Bikini Kill song…

Where can we see you next?

We’re searching for a market stall at the moment so hopefully Two Hands Bakery will be appearing on the streets of London sometime soon. Until then, however, we’re open for private orders and commissions – get in touch, we’d love to work with you.

Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat – @twohandsbakery


Amazing – thank you Elle! (and do seek Elle out – we can vouch for the awesomeness of her beautiful cakes and biscuits. Truly delicious treats!)

(all images courtesy of Two Hands Bakery)

SPOTTED – the new IKEA indoor gardening kit…

We always find it interesting to see which of our posts here on the ecospot are the most popular. Some change with the month, but some of our all time most popular posts concern green walls, indoor gardening and growing your own food. This internal greening is a trend that we have seen grow (sorry) over the last few years, with our clients requesting internal planting as an integral part of the design – both for the appearance and air cleaning qualities. We have also been able to encourage some internal growing of crops too, from herbs to soft fruits. And it does not have to be complicated either, so it was with great interest we spotted the latest launch from a global giant set for May – the IKEA indoor gardening kit.

Developed in collaboration with agricultural scientists in Sweden, the KRYDDA/VÄXER series includes everything you need to get sprouting and keep your garden growing – using mainly water – the hydroponic system that actually produces many of our crops globally.

IKEA indoor gardening

From seedling to fully grown plants – hydroponics are well within the grasp of any household, making super localised food production a reality. And if you choose wisely, you could even grow varieties that you simply cannot buy easily as they are not suitable for commercial production.

IKEA indoor gardening

IKEA have even produced a video to show just how easy it is…

This does ring a bell with us too, as a while back we bought the fantastic project book, ELIOOO by Antonio Scarponi which also does just this – shows you how to create your own hydroponic set-ups with IKEA products, with IKEA style instructions. (you can buy the book here too) It is very interesting to see IKEA themselves moving into this area of indoor growing…

IKEA indoor gardening

Watch this space – we will get hold of one of the new IKEA indoor gardening kits and see how we get on.

(images and story via IKEA)

Eco Easter Eggs…

This is it. The weekend were we can (legitimately) wake up and consume chocolate before 9am if we so desire. Easter, or Ostara to give the festival it’s pagan name, is all about fertility and new beginnings. This is why we have eggs delivered by the rabbit which is well famed for it’s ability to reproduce faster than you can shout ‘fairtrade chocolate please’. But, with so much crap chocolate out there, we have picked our top 5 eggs that we would be happy to find in a hunt.

Montezumas Eco easter egg
£7.99 from Montezuma’s Chocolate

1 – First up is the Eco Egg from Montezuma’s Chocolate. Organic chocolate with bits of butterscotch all enclosed in a completely plastic free packaging option. Eat the egg, compost or recycle the packaging. Perfect.

Montezumas Eco easter egg 2
also £7.99 from Montezuma’s Chocolate

2 – Okay – this is technically the dark chocolate version of the one above, but hey. It’s a different egg, still encased in the eco packaging and this time complete with cocoa nibs. Tasty.

Divine Easter Egg
£3.99 from Ethical Superstore

3 – Next up is the fairtrade milk chocolate egg from Divine, with Toffee and Sea Salt. As well as being a good ethical choice for your chocolate fix, this egg also has a great absence of plastic in it’s packaging too. Get yours from the Ethical Superstore.

Half a Dozen Praline-filled Hen's Eggs
£25 for half a dozen – Rococo Chocolate

4 – Fancy something a bit fancier? How about the half a dozen praline filled hens eggs from specialist chocolatiers Rococo? Presented in their trademark patterned packaging nestled in a coloured egg box, these are something special.

Picture of MINT EASTER EGG
£6.59 – Green & Black’s

5 – and lastly we are going dark and minty with the Green And Blacks Organic Mint Chocolate Egg. One for the grown ups, and a mint chocolate egg that tastes stunning and not like toothpaste. And look. No plastic either.

So. Our top five Easter Eggs. Let’s hope we will find a couple hidden in the garden this weekend…

(images via links)

*** EVENT – Earth Hour at Silo Brighton ***

Many of you will know about the fantastic restaurant, Silo in Brighton – the brain child of chef Douglas McMaster, which operates as a pre-industrial food system and is best known as being a zero-waste operation. It is one of our favourite places to eat in Brighton and we are always delighted to visit Silo, whether as a speaker at a Silo hosted event, or showing design students just how passion for a sustainable system can work in real life as a business.

As the Silo ‘Story’ states:

SILO WAS CONCEIVED FROM A DESIRE TO INNOVATE THE FOOD INDUSTRY WHILST DEMONSTRATING RESPECT: RESPECT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, RESPECT FOR THE WAY OUR FOOD IS GENERATED AND RESPECT FOR THE NOURISHMENT GIVEN TO OUR BODIES. THIS MEANS THAT WE CREATE EVERYTHING FROM ITS WHOLE FORM CUTTING OUT FOOD MILES AND OVER-PROCESSING WHILST PRESERVING NUTRIENTS AND THE INTEGRITY OF THE INGREDIENTS IN THE PROCESS.

Well said we say. 

SILO earth day 1Plus, as well as being an outstanding place to visit at any time (and in our top 10 places to visit in Brighton) the events at Silo are fantastic – and we are seriously gutted to be missing this one (as we will be travelling back from France)

For Earth Hour on Saturday 19th March, join Silo for a special raw menu meal in the dark. And you have to admit, that menu looks pretty awesome…SILO earth day 2Book your tickets, which are priced at £38 per head here. It’ll be a night to remember for sure. Just don’t tell us and rub it in. *sigh*

(images via Silo)

hiSbe on tv!

Back in 2013, we were delighted to be involved in the launch of hiSbe, the independent ethical supermarket based in Brighton, where we designed and project managed the build of the store from a desolate space into the bright and friendly supermarket it is now. As clients, Amy and Ruth Anslow, the founders of hiSbe were a dream to work with – great ethics and a real understanding of the importance of brand and communication.

hiSbe exteriorFrom the outset, hiSbe was making waves in the retail sphere, showing people just how food should be done. From self serve dry dispensers, to locally produced meat, fish and produce, hiSbe became the go-to shop in Brighton for good, fair food that does not cost a fortune.

hiSbe dry dispenser

hiSbe has now turned 2, and is still making a huge impact for what they do – like being featured in the first episode of Food Rebels, shown on the Community Channel on Monday alongside the fantastic Brighton based Silo too.

hiSbe store

We are really pleased to see the store continuing to look awesome and providing a great atmosphere for everyone working and shopping there.

Want to see hiSbe in action? watch Food Rebels below…

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.

root_veg

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.

silo_raspberries

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)

Green Gift Guide – day four – stuff for the home…

Today on day three of our Green Gift Guide, we are looking at nice stuff for the home and garden, which will eco up a space very nicely indeed – and some in very different ways than you may think…

1 – Eco Filament bulb by Urban Cottage Industries – Filament bulbs have been the go-to fitting for a few seasons now to create that popular industrial style interior, but despite looking great, they are certainly not great for energy efficiency. But, thankfully, there is now an option which combines the looks of old style filaments with the energy efficiency we should all be striving for. The Eco Filament by Urban Cottage Industries is A-rated and has a life of 25,000 hours, which equates to 11 years at 6 hours per day… fantastic. from £30.60 inc delivery

Caret lamp eco-filament E27

2 – Hessian covered lighting cable by Urban Cottage Industries – we are sticking with Urban Cottage Industries for the next of our green things for the house, and whilst many people would argue that lighting cable is not sexy, we would beg to differ. The shade gets all the attention, the bulb partly so, but the cable often gets forgotten… bring your lighting up to scratch with some of this brand new hessian covered lighting cable from Urban Cottage Industries – £4.80 per metre (order a bit more and give it a decorative loop we say)

Hessian Fabric Cable | Cloth Covered Wire | 3 Core Round

2 – Home Hack kit by Sugru – there is barely a day goes by when we do not mention Sugru and what we could do with it here in the studio. We have a tin of this wonder stuff in every colour possible in the studio and we use it on everything from in-house repairs to client projects. Sugru – the self setting silicon based rubber has grown into a community, with people posting their hacks and repairs online – proudly showing how they have fixed their stuff. And now Sugru has started a home hack kit, complete with other useful things which you can combine with the mouldable coloured Sugru such as magnets, bits of lego and tennis balls… we love this stuff. Perfect for a DIY enthusiast in your life. Or actually anyone. £17 plus shipping
Home Hacks Made Easy — The Kit

4 – seeds from The Garden House from What You Sow – The beautiful online store What you Sow has everything you would need for those with green fingers – from tools to twine, but it is the seeds from The Garden House, with their stunningly simple illustrations that we adore. With a variety of edibles and flowers to choose from, we say get a bundle of seeds, then also buy your giftee a lovely secondhand frame too, so they can frame up those great illustrations after planting. from 2.95 each plus shipping (final orders 18th Dec!)

Garden House Seeds at What You Sow

5 – recycled card light shades from Tabitha Bargh – possibly the most ‘obvious’ eco choice on our Green Gift Guide today, these lovely lampshades take recycled cardboard to a whole new level. Clean and precise, this is how sustainable materials can and should be used – perfect in any modern interior. In fact, we are looking at using these for a project we have got coming up in 2016… from £75 each

So – five eco ideas that may be a little different from your usual options for the home…

(images via associated brands)

Christmas Artist’s Open Houses @ Studio Loo – Rarebit Design…

As many of you are probably aware, we have opened up our home, Studio Loo once more for the Artist’s Open Houses in the run up to Christmas with a raft of wonderful designers and artists showing their wares in our converted wc studio. So, we thought it would be nice to find out a little bit more about everyone with a little interview series. First up today is the fantastic Rarebit Design:

rarebit design 6

Hello! can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do? rarebit design was set up in 2012 by Rachel Thomas, a designer/maker living in Hove. Rachel makes lovely handmade things from ceramics, vintage paper and linen. With rarebit design Rachel brings together all her interests – from handmade ceramics to typography and vintage print, paper and linen – and produces collections of beautiful handmade things.

rarebit design 3

What’s your favourite thing in your range at the moment and why? My favourite thing in my range at the moment is probably my tiny speckle bowls – hand made stoneware bowls, each one unique and beautifully organic in form with a delicate speckled finish. They look amazing in groups or alone, and are perfect pinch pots for salt and pepper, or ring bowls, or dip bowls at the table… the possibilities are endless. Plus I love making them!

rarebit design 1

Ok – I’ve got £20 to spend. What should I buy from your range? £20 to spend? Well it’s Christmas, so I’d go for a few of my ceramic hanging decorations with suitably festive quips such as ‘Ho Ho Ho’ or ‘Humbug’ printed into the clay with vintage letterpress letters. A rarebit design speciality! Plus a handmade vintage paper Christmas card of course!

rarebit design 2

What is on your own Christmas List this year? On my Christmas list this year is something special from Christmas Artist’s Open Houses to hang on the wall. There’s such a wealth of amazing artists living in Brighton and Hove. I’ve already bought a fabulous print from Hello Dodo but there’s still more wall space…

rarebit design 4

Christmas pudding or Christmas cake? Bah Humbug…neither I’m afraid. Mince pies all the way…

rarebit design 5

Thank you Rarebit Design! 

*** you can see all of Rarebit Design’s lovely stuff and more at Studio Loo – we are OPEN for Christmas Artist’s Open Houses 21/22 + 28 Nov, 5 + 12/13 December – 10.30 – 5.00 at 201 Portland Road, Hove, BN3 5JA ***

click here for more details!

Our Christmas Artists’ Open House starts tomorrow!

It does not seem that long ago that we were setting up the studio ready for our first ever Artists’ Open House in May, and yet, here we are at the end of the year with Christmas Artists Open Houses starting at Studio Loo tomorrow!

amalia

We have a wonderful selection of artists and designers joining us this year, with an awesome selection of prints, jewellery, homewares, ceramics, lightboxes and much more. For a full run down of those joining us this November and December, take a look at our special preview page here – and keep your eyes open for our featured interviews with each of our guest artists and designers coming up over the next two weeks. apple prints

Plus, we will have some fantastic cakes, cupcakes and seasonal iced cookies on offer too from the fantastic and delicious Simple Pleasures Cupcakery.

simple pleasures cupcakery

We can’t wait. We probably won’t crack open the Bing and Nat CD just yet, but it certainly is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And by shopping at an Artists’ Open House, you can be assured of a handmade, locally crafted one too.

(images by claire potter)

Pecha Kucha Brighton – Volume 22 – Good Grub…

The Pecha Kucha format is something that has to be experienced. It is a quick fire set of presentations, usually formed around a theme, where the speakers are limited to 20 slides, with 20 seconds per slide. Each one flicks on automatically, so if you are behind in your talk, you are in trouble. This is a brilliantly entertaining way to learn something exciting in a concise way, and we are delighted to announce that we will be taking part in the next Pecha Kucha in Brighton.

Volume 22 of Pecha Kucha Brighton on 22nd November will be around the theme of ‘Good Grub’, with a great line up of speakers talking about food in a variety of ways, from typography to crochet. Claire will be speaking about Urban Foraging and the rewilding of the city and it’s inhabitants, based on our Edible City escapades.

Tickets are £15 (+ booking fee) and include a light dinner at Silo, the venue for the evening, and Silo founder Dougie McMaster will also be talking about the philosophy behind the project – which is incredible both in concept and practice.

But even though the event is just over a month away, tickets are selling like zero waste organic hot cakes, so if you fancy it, head to the Pecha Kucha Brighton site sooner rather than later!

(image via Pecha Kucha Brighton)

Zero Waste Week – zero waste grocery shopping…

Today for zero waste week, we are looking at food and grocery shopping. Whilst we can all move towards ethical consumerism by buying less stuff new, supporting our charity shops and clothes swaps, food shopping is something that we all have to do. We can, of course, shop locally and seasonally, fairtrade and organic, but when it comes to zero waste, the options slim down considerably. But, there are few people tackling this issue head on with an effort towards zero waste – the packaging free food shops.

zero waste week - hiSbe produce area
the hiSbe produce area – all brown paper bags

Now, I may be showing my age a little, but I remember a time when the ‘scoop and save’ shops could be found with relative ease. Huge bins of flours, cake mixes, dried fruit and cereals could be bought, by weight, using the heavy duty brown paper bags at the shop. The empty brown bags went on the compost and everyone was happy. You could even buy a bag of bargain basement broken biscuits (try saying that after a few teatime tiffins). We used to try and fish out as many of the jammie dodgers and pink wafers as we could (delicious and light, respectively).

But like many things that once graced our town centres, one day the dry scoop shops left the high street, and whilst we are sure there must be a few still left, we are more used to buying our goods from the supermarket shelf – prepackaged and in predetermined weights. Choice, and zero waste – gone.

So when we are berating supermarkets and producers for coddling their goods in ever enclosing forms of packaging, what is the alternative? Of course, we can try and recycle the packaging (it is is even suited to recycling), but wouldn’t it be better to not have it there in the first place?

Unpackaged in London – the original store

Step in the scoop and save mark 2 – a new wave of grocery stores are starting to spring up both in the UK and Europe that have rethought the ‘no packaging’ concept and updated it to the needs of the modern consumer.

the new Unverpackt store in Berlin

Founded in 2006, Unpackaged in London encouraged customers to bring their own containers and vessels to fill – weighing them at the start to ensure that only the contents get charged and recently, Unverpackt has opened in Berlin – stocking over 400 different lines. Control of how much food you take is down to you, so if you only need 250g of flour for a cake recipe and you don’t often bake, you don’t need to buy 1.5kg of flour that will end up being studded with weevils. Zero waste for packaging and food alike.

Independent supermarket, hiSbe in Brighton also has a dry dispenser area, and when we were designing the interior of the hiSbe store, this was the one area that we were a little concerned that people would perhaps not ‘get’. Getting the signage, location and process correct for the dry dispensers was key, and whilst new visitors took a little bit of hand holding, people really embraced the zero waste concept and the area became a true hub of the hiSbe store.

zero waste week - hiSbe dry dispensers
the first hiSbe dry dispenser area

In fact, the dry dispensing area at hiSbe has proved so successful, we recently designed an extension to the first area, housing another 20 hoppers, plus containers for herbs and supplements and areas for large stainless steel oil drums, containing extra virgin olive oil. We are also talking about the next steps to extend the area too.

So, is this the way forward for food shopping? Will we become accustomed to dispensing our own goods into easily compostable bags, or into our own containers again? It will certainly allow us to reduce our packaging burden, and give us back more control…

And what would the true zero waste supermarket of tomorrow look like?

(images via Unverpackt and hiSbe by claire potter design)

Zero Waste Week – Silo Brighton…

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 silo)

*** REVIEW pt2 *** Project Ocean exhibition at Selfridges, London…

In the first half of our review, we looked at the first half of the fantastic Project Ocean exhibition at Selfridges, which featured the Water Bar – complete with water sprites serving up flavour infused tap water and a retrospective of the multi-use water vessel itself. For the second half of this review we wander into the second half of the exhibition…

Until a few years ago, not many people had heard about the oceanic gyres, let alone be able to tell you how many there are and where they are situated. But when Captain Charles Moore crossed the North Pacific gyre in 1997 and discovered the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, the gyres – and marine litter became much more visible to the world.Project Ocean 9So, what exactly is a gyre? Simply put, a gyre is a combination of wind and ocean current movements which spiral around a large point – rather like a huge, slow, water bourne hurricane pattern. Marine litter inevitably ends up caught in these currents and is drawn into the centres of the gyres. And there are 5 gyres across the globe…

There are multiple research groups who regularly sail through and collect data from surface trawls on the amount of plastic in our oceans, and it is quite staggering how the concentration centres across the gyres. But – and this is key – the plastic that is discovered is not, as some would imagine, an island of large pieces of waste visible across to the horizon. It is much more dangerous than that.

The plastic (which breaks down due through sunlight exposure by photodegrading) ends up in smaller and smaller pieces, which end up being eaten by fish. Small fish eat small pieces, and if they survive, are eaten by larger fish and larger fish until they are the fish that we are served up as our healthy portions each week. That is a scary truth.

And so the second half of the Project Ocean project looks at this very issue, with an explanation of the gyres and a mock up of the Sea Dragon – one of the research vessels that trawls the ocean for plastic remnants.Project Ocean 8

This half of the exhibition also houses a collection of beautiful objects created from plastic ocean waste by the wonderful Studio Swine, who accompanied a research trip earlier this year.

After collecting the pieces of plastic, Studio Swine envisaged creating something new and precious from the waste – directly on the boat. Their ‘solar extruder’ was developed for just this purpose – concentrating the suns rays onto the plastic, which melts through the centre of the device and can be moulded at the end.

Project Ocean 7

The pieces on display were all created using this method, with each piece representing waste taken from each of the gyres. The whole process of their ‘gyrecraft’ was explained though a beautiful video too, which we have featured at the end of this post.

Moving towards the exit, we passed a large wall graphic which showed the timeline of our relationship with plastic, from it’s creation in the early twentieth century to the point in 1976 when plastic became the most used material in the world to where we are now. What is also sobering is the fact that every piece of plastic we have ever created (unless it has been incinerated) still exists.

Project Ocean 5

This, coupled with the fact that in 2013 alone, 299 million tonnes of plastic were created globally – and only 10% were recycled, begins to show the scale of the issue…Project Ocean 14

Sitting down with our reusable glass Project Ocean mugs filled with rosewater tinted tap water, we quietly pondered the exhibition. How can this be brought to the widest audience possible? How can we begin to create change? Even though there were precious few people in the Project Ocean area compared to those outside in the homewares concessions of the Selfridges basement, there were people here. People who will talk to people and spread the powerful stories.

Project Ocean 1

Well done to Selfridges for standing up, speaking out and pledging change. Let’s hope these actions spread further than the plastic ocean litter.

GYRECRAFT by Studio Swine…

Gyrecraft from Studio Swine on Vimeo.

(all photographic images by claire potter)

*** EVENT *** our next Urban Foraging Walk in Brighton is up…

cherry plum foragingFancy a bit of guided foraging in Brighton? join us on our next Urban Foraging walk in Brighton on Sunday 6th September – check out our Eventbrite page for more details here…

Monday Musings – glyphosate and radical transparency…

It is becoming ever clearer that we really do not know what is actually in the things we use, wear or eat. Not a day appears to go by without a product, formula or chemical being revealed as being ‘possibly detrimental to human health’ (note the possible, and the limitations on ‘human’). We live in a world of complicated concoctions with often untraceable foundations. But, for many, ignorance is bliss. What you don’t know won’t harm you. Well, quite possibly it will.

dandelions

Glyphosate has long been outlawed by organic gardeners for the fierceness and obliterating chemical qualities it has on everything it comes into contact with, but a report issued this week from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has categorised the chemical as a ‘probable carcinogen’.

For some, this is no great surprise, but for many this has come as quite a shock, especially as retailers were quick to announce the removal of the products from their shelves. Given that glyphosate is the active ingredient in the majority of weedkillers, including Monsanto’s Roundup, it is far more common an ingredient than you may think, meaning that many gardeners and farmworkers are exposing themselves to the probable carcinogen each year.

So – will glyphosate be banned? Possibly not. There is (of course) a bit of an uproar from Monsanto (what a surprise), plus other European research groups have declared it safe for use, but this poses an interesting question. If there is some risk, is it worth it?

This same question is raised in ‘Ecological Intelligence – the coming age of radical transparency‘ by Daniel Goleman. An empowered consumer is one with the facts, so if there is risk, or a possibility of harm, that consumer may decide the risk is just not worth taking – even if the findings are disputed by others.

This is probably why the big box retailers acted so quickly and publicly when the report was issued on glypsophate. Even if there was the tiniest chance of risk, they certainly do not want to be seen to putting their customers in the firing line.

And what can we do, as the everyday consumer? Well, we can respond in the way that hits the brands the most. We switch brands and make it clear that we are not willing to take on the risk, however small. If we have a choice (and there are natural alternatives to weedkillers, like digging the blighters up), then we are in a position to affect a change. The safe and ethical brands will rise to the top and the Monsanto’s of the world will begin to sink.

Legislation is one thing, but for some, profits shout the loudest. Hit them where it hurts.