Ghost Gear investigations… weeks five and six…

So far, our project – ‘Investigating how Ghost Gear and Marine Plastic can become Precious Plastic’ has been focused on the ghost gear that can be picked up from beach cleans themselves. This has resulted in quite a range in types of material being gathered along with a range of qualities of material too. There has also been a significant amount of bio-fouling on the gear with regards to seaweed entanglement, which means that the amount of time that it takes to ‘process’ each of the batches can be quite high (and sometimes for little useful material return). However, these more community based collections allow for public empowerment – and a potential for education on the areas of Ghost Gear and marine plastics themselves, which is always useful.

However, the last two weeks we have not only been processing and recording the materials we found, we have been looking at one of the industrial sectors on our map – Newhaven Port.

By speaking directly to the fishers themselves in Newhaven and Eastbourne too (not on our map, but an area where a very influential and well respected local fisher works), we were able to understand the scale and complexity of the material that is available directly at end-of-life rather than being recovered from the sea / beach.

Quantities were huge – with materials being available in tonnes rather than kilos as we had been working with on the material recovered from the beaches. These materials were also very varied – from different types of nets to traps and fish boxes too – but many were relatively ‘pure’ in material with little or low biofouling.

There is a distinct advantage from getting end-of-life material directly from fishers to create a critical mass for re-manufacture, therefore we are considering that this may be our main focus for the ‘waste food’ for the project, with beach clean material being added in, rather than forming the main material stream. Space was a key issue for the fishers as many of them had limited access to storage, so regular pickups of material were highlighted as being important.

We were also keen to understand how nets were / are currently recycled in this area, as some of the fishers had been working with an international partner to recycle their nets. Due to the distances that the nets have to be shipped, it is currently unfeasible financially to process the material, which gives strength to this projects investigations – would more localised re-manufacture of material that is ‘lower cost’ in recycling terms make more financial sense?

As we start to quantify the ghost gear materials into type and weights we will should be able to start to look closer into the finances and establish feasibility for each type…

WEEK FIVE and SIX summary…

  • end-of-life gear shows potentially a more economically feasible route for the ‘waste as food’ for the project
  • partnering with the fishers will be key to create trust and also to ensure purity of material for reuse.
  • adding in ‘beach clean’ materials could be used as an additive to create public connection.

Ghost Gear investigations… week four…

Week four has been a pretty big one in our Discover stage of our ghost gear investigation project – as it was also the Surfers Against Sewage Autumn Beach Clean Series week (and we are also volunteer Regional Reps), we employed a crowd collection tactic for our data collection.

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With multiple beach cleans all occurring on the same weekend, with the same weather, we would be able to compare the data from each area very clearly… materials, quantities – and crowd knowledge of ghost gear itself.

So – we identified the three key SAS Beach cleans that were focussed in our areas:

  • SAS Autumn Beach Clean, Hove Lawns 28/10/17: our Sector 3, which attracted around 70 volunteers over a 2 hour beach clean
  • SAS Autumn Beach Clean, Rottingdean 29/10/17: our Sector 5, (volunteer numbers tbc)
  • SAS x Pier2Pier + Silent Disco Beach Clean 29/10/17: our Sector 4, which attracted around 110 volunteers over a 3 hour beach clean.

We created a poster that acted as an introduction to the project, and spoke to the volunteers at each Beach Clean – asking them to separate out the ghost gear that they found…

This was an experiment – many people we spoke to at the start of these beach cleans had never attended a beach clean before, so asking them to both identify, and separate lost, abandoned or discarded fishing gear was a trial. After a briefing talk from us, each pair were given a small collection bag and sent out on to the beach.

The benefits of this system soon became clear. The vast majority of the volunteers filled their collection bags with ghost gear, clearly identifying them to keep them separated from the rest of the litter they had picked up. Some did come back with questions, but even those who had never done a beach clean could identify ghost gear. As our project is ultimately looking at how ghost gear can be incorporated into a new material stream to make new products, creating an empathic connection between cleaning the beach – doing a good thing – and a new item, could be critical.

It also meant that we had around 100 bags of ghost gear pieces picked up in a VERY short period of time over three separate areas that we had marked for research.

Week five will be spent looking at two of our other key areas – Sector 1 – Shoreham Port, and Sector 7 – Newhaven Port, speaking to fishers themselves and investigating the issues with collecting end-of-life nets and gear, rather than collecting it on the beaches itself.

And we will be washing, categorising and photographing the VAST quantities of ghost gear that our marvellous volunteer army collected over the Surfers Against Sewage Autumn Beach Clean series weekend…

WEEK FOUR summary…

  • ‘ghost gear’ is a term that not many members of the public know.
  • however, anyone can be easily briefed on the issue – and pick up ghost gear correctly.
  • mobilising volunteer collectors was very effective for collecting large quantities of material over a short period of time.

Ghost Gear investigations… weeks two and three…

Weeks two and three on our Ghost Gear investigations have gone like an absolute flash. We have spent a huge amount of time cataloguing the HUGE amount of ghost gear that we have found so far in our field visits – which have been mostly concentrated on the more public beach areas of Brighton and Hove. These are also the beaches which are more frequently cleaned by the team at City Clean, but it is still eye opening the quantities that we have found.

There are some patterns forming though… the types of materials we are finding the most of are quite distinct. If we can determine a reprocessing system for these, we could be able to redirect a great deal of ghost gear from landfill / incineration into a new product material stream.

Watch this space…

(images by J. Arney – claire potter design)

BIG NEWS! We’re one of Kevin McCloud’s Green Heroes 2017!

Wow. More big news – we’ve just been listed as one of Kevin McCloud’s 10 Green Heroes for 2017!

Selected by Kevin himself, we have been included on the very prestigious list for our circular economy work using marine plastics to create new products – in particular our lighting range, ‘The Smack’ which we exhibited at Clerkenwell Design week in May this year. The jellyfish type lights all use PET plastic bottles which were collected en-masse when we helped lead a beach and street clean in February and have proved a very thought provoking design indeed. As designers, how can we reinvent a material? How can we positively impact the crisis of marine litter? What can we all do as consumers?

We had some great comments from Kevin in the selection process too… ‘We should not just recycle (plastic bottles) but reinvent them, says McCloud, “and upcycle them into beautiful and useful objects”.

So – you can see The Smack exhibited at Grand Designs Live at the NEC in Birmingham from 11th – 14th October and again in 2018, 5-13 May at the Excel in London.

Thank you again to Kevin McCloud for choosing us as a Green Hero!

(images courtesy of Grand Designs Live + by claire potter)

‘The Smack’ at Clerkenwell Design Week – from marine plastic to lighting…

Yikes. Where have the last two months gone? It feels like an age, yet only yesterday that we were down in the underground cells of Platform for Clerkenwell Design Week 2017, showing the latest iteration of our marine plastic product research work – ‘The Smack’.

Made using 365 recovered Lucozade Sport bottles, split into their component materials and remade into fittings reminiscent of jellyfish, ‘The Smack’ went down an absolute storm. We had a huge amount of interest not only in the installation, but the story of marine plastic itself. Press interviews, TV interviews and a spot on a documentary – as well as hundreds of conversations with people staggered at awfulness, yet beauty of the piece and countless tweets and instagrams. #TheSmack was well shared!

What was really encouraging was the amount of people who knew about the wider issue. Some people knew about the Parley x Adidas marine plastic trainer, others had been watching the Sky Ocean Rescue project and some had even seen the latest marine plastic documentary – A Plastic Ocean. Awareness is certainly growing.

The few days of the event zipped by, but we are already booked in and planning what we will be doing for Clerkenwell Design Week 2018. We will be back down in Platform again with our next iteration of products made from reclaimed marine plastics. We have a VERY exciting project in the pipeline that you will see popping up here very soon… watch this space as they say.

(images by claire potter)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(all images via Surfdome)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 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)

friday photo – FISH NOT PLASTIC…

friday photo no22 – FISH NOT PLASTIC!

fish-not-plastic

Says it all really. Yet if we carry on the way we are, there will be more plastic than fish, by weight in our ocean by 2050. A scary thought. Let’s turn the tide…

  • refuse single use plastic
  • reuse your own cup / bottle – like a Klean Kanteen / Keep Cup
  • reduce your packaged goods
  • recycle all your plastic
  • remove it from the beaches / streets / rivers, when you see it.

(image by claire potter design)

friday photo – hope…

Friday photo no21 – hope.

There always has to be hope. This photo was taken on our recent beach clean for Surfers Against Sewage – a lovely shot looking out to sea over freshly cleaned beaches and the new offshore wind farm that is being developed in the channel off Brighton. We need to work together to make this world better. We need to have hope to make that happen…

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(image by claire potter)

*** EVENT REPORT *** Surfers Against Sewage Autumn Beach Clean Series, Brighton…

It seems like barely yesterday we were leading the Brighton and Hove Beach Clean for Surfers Against Sewage back in April as lead volunteers, yet here we are in October, with Claire as a new SAS Regional Rep and another beach clean under our belts…

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The Autumn Beach Clean Series from Surfers Against Sewage, running across the UK throughout the whole of this week will see over 250 beach cleans completed by thousands of volunteers – taking marine litter off our coasts and into our recycling systems.

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In Brighton and Hove this year we have 5 beach cleans in the diary, and we led the second of the two cleans yesterday from 12-3pm, which was attended by a group of people on their lunch breaks, people passing by and people who just want to see a cleaner beach.

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Even though the temperature has cooled and we are very much out of the main tourist season here in Brighton, there were the usual suspects in our beach clean. Cans, straws, food packaging and of course, single use plastic bottles. Each recyclable element was stripped out of the 12 bags of collected rubbish and sorted to allow them to get back into our recycled material stream.

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But, as with all beach cleans, there were also a few interesting pieces to be seen. A large chunk of cement and rope (that was actually collected from the beach by my dad!) had a bit of an appearance of a heart, or an angel fish, plus we also collected some pieces of aquarium plastic foliage (oh the irony) and even a bright yellow walrus.

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At the end of the clean we all tucked into specially iced Surfers Against Sewage chocolate chip cookies and spoke to the many passers by about the issues. One of our volunteers exclaimed that it was not rocket science – you just walked and picked stuff up… the passers by agreed and many took a small bag to do their own mini beach clean as they walked.

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We look forward to reporting the statistics from all the Autumn Beach Clean Series this year – how many tons of rubbish will be removed – and how many single use plastic bottles were recovered. If we had a deposit scheme for plastic we are sure that there would be infinitely less… *

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(images by claire potter)

*want to join the campaign calling for a deposit return scheme on single use plastic bottled? Check out the SAS Message In a Bottle campaign here

 

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.

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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)

We’ve been at the Global Ghost Gear Initiative AGM…

That’s right folks – we’ve been away. Apologies for the radio silence these last couple of weeks, but things were rather hectic here at the studio, including a rather lovely trip from Brighton to Miami for the third Global Ghost Gear Initiative AGM. Coming together with people from all over the world, we were there as representatives of the World Cetacean Alliance, speaking about the different outreach projects we completed in 2016 based around marine litter.

Ghost gear is the term given to abandoned, discarded or otherwise lost fishing gear, which causes continued entrapment, entanglement and ingestion issues of all species. As modern fishing gear is plastic based, it does not degrade, so continues to fish for decades… The GGGI brings together the vast amount and variety of people needed to find solutions to these issues – from industry, fishers and policy makers to recyclers, NGO’s and manufacturers.

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Arriving in Coconut Grove, Miami, Day one of the GGGI AGM started with a series of inspiring presentations from World Animal Protection (the current Secretariat) and break out sessions with each of the three working groups – Building Evidence, Best Practice and Replicating Solutions.

Due to the studio’s work, and activities with WCA, I sat into the review from the Replicating Solutions Group who reported a series of brilliant projects from around the globe, concentrating on ghost gear removal and recycling. There was much discussion about what worked well and how activities could be improved and scaled up.

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After lunch, we sat back in our working groups, where I was officially adopted into the Replicating Solutions group – the largest (and loudest) group of the three. Figures. We then started to plan out our voyage for 2016-2017, coming up with some rather audacious goals for new projects, scaled up projects, new activities and new forms of communication. Day one finished and we were exhausted…

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the 2016 GGGI delegation!

Day Two dawned hot and bright on the Miami coast and we started the final sessions reporting back to the other working groups about our plans – and starting to link the dots between the activities that both Building Evidence and Best Practice were planning. Things took shape. Comments were made, plans were set.

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One of the last sessions was the Lightning Talks – a set of ten 5 minute talks from different members of the GGGI community. From gear recovery projects to working with developing countries, the logistics of gathering and storing ghost gear picked up at sea and what needs to be considered when transporting it for recycling – each person whizzed through their 5 minutes.

I was delighted to be reporting with Natalie Barefoot from CetLaw about the work we had both undertaken with WCA over the past year – from the interns who travelled to work with whale watching groups to educate visitors on the issues with ghost gear to the Ghost Gear Chandelier we made earlier in 2016 and exhibited at the Clerkenwell Design Week in May. The link-up between WCA and the Brighton Etsy group was also presented, along with the wonderful Lulu by Designosaur – one of my most treasured pieces of jewellery.

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It was also great to see the range of products that are currently made from recovered ghost gear – either in an unprocessed form, or as a raw material in a mini pop-up exhibition. From Econyl based recycled nylon swimwear to door mats, bracelets and of course, Bureo, who were showing their skateboards and sunglasses. I was rather taken with their Yuco glasses…

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A final sum up and we were done. It was great to be invited to be part of such a great group of pro-active people and we cannot wait to get going with the work we have got as part of our WCA / GGGI Replicating Solutions working group activities…

As always – watch this space!

(images by Claire Potter)

SPOTTED – marine litter artworks by Ella Robinson…

Last week, we headed up to the London Design Festival to have a general ferret about, catch up with people, meet new people and find interesting circular economy based design. This week, we will be featuring some of our favourite finds from the festival, starting today at the London Design Fair with the marine litter artworks of Ella Robinson…

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Well, it was inevitable wasn’t it? Given the studio focus on marine litter and all things plastic, it was no great surprise that we came across the beautiful work of Ella Robinson in the British Craft Pavilion. Hailing from Brighton originally, Ella works with constructed / multi media textiles and has a specialism in found objects.

Bright and vibrant, the pieces, which juxtaposed clean white frames or found driftwood with synthetic plastics, stood out brilliantly. Arranged by size, shape or colour, the pieces featured artefacts that had been beachcombed from around the UK – from the plastics to the driftwoods, which were paired with eye poppingly bright plastic ‘threads’.

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Smaller pieces featured embroidery and logos and were certainly beautiful, but it was the larger, marine litter based pieces which grabbed our attention. Unsurprisingly. *ahem*

check out Ella’s website for more information, and to purchase her work.

(images by claire potter)

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…

Success as the UK plans to ban plastic microbeads!

A few days ago, we wrote about the report by the Environmental Audit Committee which called for a recommended ban of plastic microbeads in cosmetic products. The microbeads, which are made from a variety of plastics and are often found in facial scrubs, shower gels and toothpastes, are so small that they bypass filters in the waste waster systems and end up in the ocean. An estimated 51 trillion pieces have accumulated in our seas and are starting to really impact wildlife as many fish and birds eat them by mistake. It is something that is really easy to stop – banning microbeads is the way forward.

Toothpaste 4

So, it was with great delight that an announcement on 2nd September 2016 from the UK government backed the banning of microbeads in cosmetic products – with no microbeads being allowed in scrubs and toothpastes by some time in 2017. A consultation will now begin with a timeline for the ban.

Good news?

This, of course, is great news and brings forward the voluntary ban that some cosmetic companies had already outlined for 2020. But there are still flaws. The critical part of this ban is the terminology.

‘Cosmetic product’ can mean many things to many manufacturers, plus microbeads are often found in cleaning products for the home and in industry – not just in our bathroom cabinets. So if we are banning microbeads in cosmetic products, surely we need to ban microbeads in all products?

As Greenpeace’s ocean campaigner, Louise Edge rightly stated,

‘… marine life doesn’t distinguish between plastic from a face wash and plastic from a washing detergent, so it makes no sense for this ban to be limited to some products and not others, as is currently proposed.’

Mary Creagh, the Labour MP and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, agreed, saying:

‘I’m pleased to see the Government has finally agreed with my Committee’s call for a ban on microbeads. Fish don’t care where the plastic they are eating comes from, so it’s vital the ban covers all microplastics in all down the drain products.’

So we await the consultation, which is due to be published this week on just how blanket the microbead ban should be. Till then, check out our post on how you can avoid microbeads yourself…