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

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

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

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

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

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

(images by claire potter, SAS and Creative Bloom)

***EVENT*** our last foraging walk of the year this Sunday!

Well, the summer has rocketed by, and we can’t believe that our last guided foraging walk of the year will be this Sunday. Starting at a location just outside the centre of Brighton, you can join us for a 2 hour or so foraging walk, where we will point out the 20 or so different things that you can eat (or really should not be touching!). Things that you will recognise and lots that you will not, this walk will equip you with the basics of urban foraging, including the rules you need to adhere by.

cherry plum foraging

Finished off with a little drink at the end, the walk starts and ends in two Brighton parks, with some street foraging in the middle… Kids are welcome (and go free with an adult too).

There are only a few tickets left for this walk, so if you fancy it – here is the link to our Eventbrite page… We hope to see you there!

(image by claire potter)

***EVENT*** Settlement at Green Man Festival…

Last week was quite a different one for us here in the studio. Instead of sitting in our converted WC studio at our computers in Brighton, I (claire) was standing in a beautiful big top style tent in Wales, talking to people about the journey of marine litter. The Waterfront tent, curated for the Canal and River Trust formed part of the Settlement pre-festival at Green Man Festival and was the hub of all water based talks and workshops. We were delighted to be part of it all.

Sunday saw the drive up to Wales in glorious sunshine, with our new vintage tent soon pitched beside a mature pine in a lush and green field. Monday morning saw the start of Settlement at Green Man Festival and the planned activities at Waterfront – Geography field trips, talks on water purification and our bunch – a workshop on making jewellery from ghost gear recovered from Brighton beach, and a foraged cocktail workshop to round off the day…

Green Man Festival 16 marine litter 3

With families arriving, soon the tent was filled with kids and adults of all ages, engaging with the (cleaned) fishing netting and line we had brought up and turning the fragments into new pieces.

Green Man Festival 16 marine litter 2

With only a small amount of instruction, the kids were soon away – experimenting with charms (to show how fish get caught in the netting), braids, knots and plaits. The hour zoomed by.

Green Man Festival 16 marine litter 5

Then came the foraged cocktail workshop. Using our ‘larder’ of prepared syrups, cordials and juices, 40 people were taught the basics of how to use foraged produce in real recipes. And very alcoholic ones at that. With lavender infused vodka, honeysuckle syrup, rose syrup, blackberry vodka, crab apple syrup, wild mint cordials and more, four cocktails were made by each of the tables and the session (which got progressively rowdy) was finished off with a quince brandy or sloe gin slammer. It was a roaring success.

Green Man Festival foraging 16Tuesday dawned bright and hot again, with each of our workshops being booked out pretty quickly. The Foraged Cocktail one in particular was proving rather popular. Must have been my sparkling wit. *ahem*

Green Man Festival 16But whilst the festival goers were all there for a relax and some fun, I was delighted to see a HUGE turnout to my talk about the journey of marine litter ‘High Street to River to Sea’. Explaining about plastic, the origins of marine litter, the depressing facts and yet the positive aspects of how we can all be part of the sea change, the talk went down very well indeed. The second making workshop using marine litter was also fully subscribed, with another set of hugely creative pieces being made by attendees of all ages. It was great to talk to so many people about the issue and hear their own stories about the marine litter crisis.

Green Man Festival 16 marine litter 4

We have found that empowering people to make things and gain not only ownership but knowledge and pride is a very powerful thing. And each person that left that tent proudly wearing a bracelet or necklace made from marine litter will pass the story on. This is what it is about.

Green Man Festival 16 marine litter 1

The last session of our stint at Settlement for the Green Man Festival was another Foraged Cocktail workshop – strangely enough, another fully booked, roaring session.

All in all, a marvellous few days – thank you to Jo, Cara and the whole team for inviting us to be part of such a brilliant event. Roll on next year.

(all images by claire potter design)

***EVENT*** Big Spring Beach Clean for Surfers Against Sewage…

Each Spring and Autumn, Surfers Against Sewage mobilise thousands of volunteers across the whole of the UK to undertake beach cleans – and this year, we were delighted to be the Lead Volunteers for Hove, organising the Big Spring Beach Clean last weekend. We care very deeply about our environments – global and local – and coupled with our continuing studio research into marine litter and plastics, this was something we just had to do. Big Spring Beach Clean 7Sunday morning dawned bright blue, clear and sunny, which, when you are running volunteer events, is an incredibly welcome sight indeed. With such important causes, you will always get people who will turn up, but the sun certainly helps. By 10am, we were set up on the Promenade behind the Kind Alfred Leisure Centre, with boxes of marine litter we had previously recovered, sets of gloves, a box of homemade brownies and the largest chunk of rope I have ever seen, that we hauled off the beach minutes before. And people arrived – single people, couples, sets of friends, families – even a few passers by who were recruited into the cause too. A quick briefing from Claire about marine litter and it’s global impact, a safety briefing and a tide briefing and people scattered East and West along the beaches of Hove. Big Spring Beach Clean 5

About an hour later, the first of the volunteers popped back, with the first bag of marine litter – a mass of coloured plastic, bits of metal and fishing gear clearly visible through the transparent bag. We chose to use these plastic bags for this very reason – we wanted passers by to SEE what the volunteers were picking up so we could discuss WHY this was an issue and just how big the issue was. Many people stopped to take photos of the bags as they piled up over the two hours of the clean.Big Spring Beach Clean 3

By the ‘official’ end of our Big Spring Beach Clean, our fantastic volunteers had recovered 25 bags of marine litter from the beaches of Hove, weighing an estimated 40-45kg. This was everything from plastic bags, bottles and packaging to fishing gear, bits of single use bbq’s andrandom items. We had a black lacy dress, a pair of broken sunglasses, a baseball cap, knitted pants and one flipflop. Nearly a complete outfit, if a bit random – even for Brighton standards. Big Spring Beach Clean 1

One volunteer decided to just concentrate on palm oil, which we have had washed up in huge quantities recently in Brighton and Hove. These chunks of white fat pose a serious health risk to children and dogs, who can become fatally poisoned if they consume them. Many of the people we spoke to on the prom didn’t know what palm oil was, so this was another great educational opportunity.Big Spring Beach Clean 6By midday, with the wind blowing and the tide coming in, all our volunteers were safely back at our temporary HQ and were thanked with more homemade brownies and one of our Brighton architecture A6 recycled paper notebooks each. Everyone looked rosy from the wind and delighted at our collective efforts. Big Spring Beach Clean 2

A great day. Thank you to everyone who came and cleaned, for those who stopped to talk to us about the marine litter issue and of course, Surfers Against Sewage for getting us all out there for the Big Spring Beach Clean. Watch this space as we use some of the material we recovered in new designs which will feature at our first ever Clerkenwell Design Week exhibition at the end of May…

(images by claire potter)

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)

We’re leading a Spring Beach Clean for Surfers Against Sewage!

In the latest of our events, we are delighted to announce that we are supporting Surfers Against Sewage and Parley for the Oceans for the Big Spring Beach Clean 2016. We will be leading the Hove Beach Clean on Sunday 10th April, starting at 10am on the beach behind the King Alfred Leisure Centre in Hove. (we know the poster says the 11th – 17th, but that weekend clashes with the Brighton Marathon, so we are starting early!)

We will be scanning and removing from the beaches all pieces of plastic, netting and general rubbish for two hours, and we would love you to join us from 11am if you are about! Just turn up.

So why do we think, as designers, that this is something we need to be involved with?

Well, we have spoken repeatedly here on The Ecospot about the issues with marine litter, plastic and ghost gear netting – including our most recent project in association with the World Cetacean Alliance which resulted in our Ghost Gear Chandelier.

Ghost Gear Chandelier 4

And given that there is an estimated 40 million pounds of plastic floating about in the North Pacific alone – and every piece of plastic, unless we have incinerated it, is still on the earth, this is a huge environmental and health issue for both the oceans and us, as the ingested plastic travels up the food chain. From a designers point of view, this is a huge, barely tapped resource of possible raw materials. This is what really excites us.

So, as well as cleaning up the beaches to reduce the impact of marine litter on both wildlife and humans, the Surfers Against Sewage Big Spring Beach Clean is this year being run in association with Parley for the Oceans, who will be recovering the bagged litter for reuse and recycling. As part of our own studio research, we will also be recovering some of the plastic and ghost netting for use in some exciting projects we have in the pipeline – using the Parley A.I.R. strategy of Avoid, Intercept, Redesign.

A I R.jpg

the cycle.jpg

We will be releasing more news in the coming weeks about just what we are doing with this plastic we are recovering – and where you can see the resulting pieces and our current research results…

And we  would love you to join us for the Big Spring Beach Clean – if you are available on Sunday 10th April from 11am – 1pm, pop down to the Hove seafront with a sturdy set of gloves and get involved. Look out for me – I’ll be in this t-shirt!

Big Spring Beach Clean t-shirt 2016

Any questions – give us a shout at hello@clairepotterdesign.com

(image by claire potter, SAS and Parley)

 

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)

*** EVENT *** the EcoFabulous Walk In Wardrobe clothes swap – 24th October…

This week we are all about the fashion – having attended lots of the events for Brighton Fashion Week last week (all of which was ethical and sustainable), but as well as doing reviews of the events last week, we are delighted to let you know there is another eco fashion event happening this weekend – the EcoFabulous Walk in Wardrobe Clothes Swap on Saturday 24th October, hosted by image and style consultant, Jo Goode…

Jo is a champion of Slow Fashion, and these Walk in Wardrobe Clothes Swap events, which are also held elsewhere in the UK are about recycling and reusing our clothes. Different from swishing in that there is no ‘like for like’, tokens or assessment of what you bring, WIW accept all the unwanted (though they do encourage good quality donations!) and the ticket price allows for unlimited clothes, shoes and accessories to be taken home.

It’s a great way to get a new-to-you wardrobe for AW15, or just fill those wardrobe gaps, and each ticket holder will be entered into a draw to win a free Colour Analysis Consultation (worth £80) with Jo, who will also be on hand to advise on the best colours and styles for you, promoting a ‘Buy less, choose well’ ethos (like Vivienne Westwood).

The event is being held at The Purple Playhouse Theatre, Montefiore Road, Hove BN3 6EP, and you get your tickets here at the Walk In Wardrobe Eventbrite page...

Because reuse is the way forward!

The London Design Festival is in full swing – here are our picks…

We honestly do not know where the year has gone – was it really 12 months since we were up at the London Design Festival with Fixperts, running a workshop on fixing and hacking? It appears it was. However, apart from being a year older, the London Design Festival is a distinct highlight of our calendar – and it gets bigger each time. Whilst this is fantastic, the bigger the event, the more you have to pick and choose the events that you go to, so we are sharing our picks for this year with you all…

First up – we will be heading to LASSCO, to drool over the reclamation:

‘Pioneers of Architectural Salvage, LASSCO supply a virtually unending stream of recklessly curated objects and materials, aided by an unerring eye, impeccable provenance and profound practical knowledge.

Over the past year the shop has contributed architectural elements to some of London’s most exciting and on-trend retail and hospitality brands across London including: Aesop, Club Monaco, St John’s, Groucho, Ralph Lauren, Hostem, & China Exchange. This inspiring exhibition documents them and shows how our reclaimed materials are being incorporated into interior design today.’

19 – 27th Sept / 41 Maltby Street, Bermondsey / £free

Next we will be heading to Interface to see their Designing with Nature exhibition, which looks in detail at biomimicry:

‘Interface is a worldwide leader in the design and production of sustainable modular flooring, suitable for all commercial interiors. Interface products come in a range of colours, textures and patterns that combine beauty with functionality to help organisations bring their design vision to life.

The effect that nature can have on your well being is remarkable. Nature has long been a source of inspiration for Interface and has led to the production some of the most sustainable and innovative nature-inspired carpet tiles. We learn from nature’s systems and our designs take cues from visual and tactile textures, also found in nature, helping to bring the feeling of outside, in to create spaces which inspire, energise and engage individuals in the workplace.’

21 – 25th Sept / 1 Northburgh Street, Clerkenwell / £free

We are also heading off to the Ella Doran & The Great Recovery Material Engagement and the Art of Re-upholstery workshop too:

‘A day at Fab Lab London exploring the possibilities, challenges and rewards of re-upholstering old furniture to give it a new life through talks, hands-on demonstrations & the opportunity to talk to the participants of the Great Recovery’s design residency with SUEZ.

This event reflects and builds on the Great Recovery’s ‘bulky waste’ Design Residency in partnership with SUEZ Recycling and Recovery earlier in the year. Hackney duo Urban Upholstery and award-winning textile designer Ella Doran join the Great Recovery at Fab Lab London to explore how to reduce the quantity of furniture going to landfill through considered design approaches and practical re-upholstery techniques.’

25th Sept / Fab lab London, 1 Frederick’s Place / £free – but book places here

Last on our list is the launch of the Fairphone 2 – an ethical, modular, repairable smartphone:

‘Fairphone is a social enterprise that is building a movement for fairer electronics. By making a phone, we’re opening up the supply chain and creating new relationships between people and their products. We’re making a positive impact across the value chain in mining, design, manufacturing and life cycle, while expanding the market for products that put ethical values first. Together with our community, we’re changing the way products are made.

Come to Fairphone’s launch event, a pop-up space taking you behind-the-scenes of their latest phone – the Fairphone 2, designed with a fairer supply chain and advanced modular architecture. Discover what’s behind your phone: from mines in DR Congo to factories in China and e-waste dumps in Ghana.’

26 – 27th Sept / 2-4 Melior Place / £free

But with so much to do, check out the London Design Festival site – get exploring with design…

(images via LDF15)

*** 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.

Weekend words – when life gives you cherry plums…

when life gives you cherry plums

(image and photography by claire potter)

Monday Musings – foraging – taking advantage or taking your share?

Today on Monday Musings we have a very apt discussion to wade into – foraging. Yesterday we ran one of our popular Urban Foraging walks in Brighton, leading a small group through a couple of parks and streets of the city. We pointed out what is edible, abundant, how you can use it and the folklore and traditions that surround the things we walk past every day. But one discussion that we had, was not how we should forage, but whether we should at all.

cherry plum foraging

This had arisen with the recent discussion – and argument in the Daily Mail – that foragers are stripping the New Forest bare of mushrooms. John Wright, the foraging expert linked with River Cottage (and one of our heroes) came under fire, as his paid foraging courses were blamed for the sparseness of mushrooms in the area. This accusation was quickly rubbished by Wright and River Cottage, who stated that not only do they operate within the law, but that they collect a tiny fraction of the mushrooms discovered on a walk – taking only one basket of edible mushrooms and one basket of ‘interesting’ mushrooms between the whole group. No mushroom is picked twice, and only Wright picks the mushrooms. And of course, only with permission of the landowner.applesPlus, the mushroom is only the reproductive organ of the living organism below ground, so saying that picking mushrooms is harmful, is quite honestly, rubbish. Where the argument against over picking stands is when the forest is laid bare of mushrooms – not perhaps from a conservation point of view, but it is indeed a sad sight.

So this is an interesting argument. With the increasing interest in foraging taking hold, how can we ensure that us, who teach the skill, are being responsible? 

Frankly, I believe that the people I teach to forage – those who want to reconnect with the seasons and their landscape (with respect) and supplement their weekly shop and autumn larders with nutritious and plentiful goodies are not the problem. Like Wright, I only point out items that are so common we would have to all locally down tools and pick for a week to make any kind of dent in the harvest. Hawthorns? Japanese Roses? Nettles? Do me a favour. hawthorn

We never pick items that are rare, or unusual, and if we do discover something, we look and learn.

My personal bugbear with foraging does not sit with people (like me) who run paid for foraging courses, or write books or blogs on the subject. It does not sit with people who post their foraging forays on twitter, facebook and instagram. It certainly does not sit with the individual who picks a kilo of apples on a piece of waste ground. My bugbear sits with those few unscrupulous ‘commercial foragers’ who flaunt the 50 shades of grey areas of the law – picking wherever they can, in large quantities for resale to restaurants and gastropubs. Whenever I see ‘locally foraged’ on a menu I ask questions. Where, who, when? With permission?

Foraging is about being respectful. And the vast majority of us are just that. We respect our local areas, we respect the local biodiversity and we respect the knowledge that has been gathered over generations that we risk losing forever in the eternal glow of the supermarkets.

So will I stop foraging, or teaching people how to forage? Not on your nelly. Knowledge is power and respect comes from education, not ignorance.

*** EVENT *** Urban Foraging in Brighton – 2nd July 2015

Hooray! Only a couple of days to go until our next Urban Foraging event in Brighton and Hove! Starting at the Dyke Road Cafe, we will wind out way through the parks and streets of Brighton and Hove over two hours, identifying the fantastic things that are abundant and edible in our urban hedges. What can you use? When can you use it? How do you use it? We will cover all of this, plus the legal requirements that need to be taken into consideration when foraging…

cherry plum foraging

Join us for a bit of an educating walk, get reconnected with your urban environment and enjoy a bit of a foraged drink at the end.

A perfect way to spend a Sunday morning!  Click here to go to our Eventbrite page with all the details…

(image by claire potter design)

our latest Urban Foraging Walk is now live!

We have been pretty busy on the foraging front this year – mostly running foraging walks for other lovely people in the city, but we have had so many people ask us whether we are running any more, we are!

cherry plum foraging

Up now are full details of our Urban Foraging walk in Brighton on 2nd August… Ever wondered what you walk past each day which you could add into to your daily diet? Ever wondered what this whole urban foraging thing is about, where it has come from and what you can actually do with that random looking leaf? Well, during our 2 hour intro walk, we will help guide you through the laws and pitfalls of foraging and help you identify up to 20 things that are abundant and actually rather delicious in the city. Finishing off with a little drink at the end, this introductory foraging walk through the parks and streets of Brighton will give you a taster of what you are missing…

The walk is £10 per person (with kids free) and you can book through our Eventbrite page…

We look forward to seeing you!

(image by claire potter)