We are big fans of giving gifts that are useful, and that promote a bit of positive behaviour change. When the 5p plastic bag levy was introduced in October 2105, many people moaned that they would just not be able to remember a reusable bag, but fast forward to July 2016 – just six months in, and single use plastic bag use dropped 85% in the UK. That is quite staggering. So if we are all taking our reusable bags to the shops most of the time, a gift of a reusable bag that is a little different from the norm could be a perfect option. It’s day 11 on our Eco Gift Guide and we have selected the Bouncy Castle Tote Bag from Surfers Against Sewage…
Made on the Isle of Wight by designers Wyatt and Jack, co-branded with an SAS logo and the ‘Break the Bag Habit’ tagline, these fantastic, strong tote bags are made from actual bouncy castles that have been retired from use.
Available in 7 different colours, the tote bags feature strong black webbing handles and measure a very useful 35cm x 35cm. Plus, by the nature of the material, the bag has a waterproof outer, so is perfect for sitting on the floor or using as a kit bag.
We love these bags as they use materials that have a great nostalgic link, and make advantage of their strength, colour, waterproof nature and hard wearing qualities. They will last a very long time!
Plus, these bags are a great choice if you need to post a gift to someone – flat, unbreakable and very useful…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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… *
(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…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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…
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…
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’.
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.
Today on Monday Makers we have the fantastic Smile Plastics, who we love here in the studio. With innovative recycled plastic sheets of all types, they are the first people we turn too when we need to specify plastics. We actually have a project in Brighton on site at the moment where we have used one of their recycled plastic sheets… watch this space. So – who are Smile Plastics?
Hello there! Please tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Smile Plastics reimagines waste into decorative art materials used by designers and architects around the world for products, interiors and displays. It’s been going since 1994 and was one of the first companies globally to recycle plastics, gaining a strong reputation for its striking aesthetics and exquisite quality. The business stopped trading from 2011-2015 but has recently been taken on by two designers, relauching a core range of panels at London Design Week 2015. The business is now run by a very small dynamic team out of several locations across England and Wales and we’re hoping to consolidate over the next year.
What do you make?
Our core business is making 100% recycled plastic panels. We have a classics collection of materials made from a range of waste streams such as plastic bottles and yoghurt pots and we also work with clients to create bespoke materials based on their preferred waste stream, colour palette or pattern. We’re increasingly also offering design and build services and hope to focus on this more in the future.
What is your favourite piece/thing you create, and why?
We absolutely love coffee and have been developing materials out of recycled coffee waste for a few years and offer it as a bespoke material through Smile Plastics. We have fabricated some great pieces out of the material, most recently a coffee bar at Societe Generale with a recycled bottle top and recycled coffee panelling.
What inspires you?
We get really inspired by the language of materials, in particular the potential of waste and how our products can communicate engaging messages about sustainability to people, inspiring others to rethink waste.
What is your favourite place?
We love to be immersed in nature when we can from kitesurfing on the sea to climbing up mountains, and we’re happy to do this anywhere in the world!
Ok – you are rulers of the world for the day. What one law do you bring in?
Everything that gets made needs to be designed for recyclability so that we all operate in a full closed loop circular economy. (HEAR HEAR! – ed)
What is your company motto?
It’s short and punchy: Reimagined materials designed to inspire.
Where can we see you next?
We’ve got a number of exciting projects coming up. If you haven’t made it already to the Wellcome Trust’s States of Mind exhibition then I would recommend it and they have used our yoghurt material beautifully as displays. We also have a small stand at the Surface and Materials show curated by Materials Lab in October in Birmingham so do pop along to see our materials there.
Last Saturday, we were out and about again – this time with the World Cetacean Alliance at the March of the Mermaids in Hove, helping them spread the word about ghost gear netting and specifically, what you can do with it. Armed with a raft of experimental pieces of jewellery we created for our exhibit at Clerkenwell Design Week 2016, we were there for the day running making workshops with recovered netting from the beaches of Brighton. With attendees from age 3 upwards, we were busy!
It was great to show everyone the issue up close and actually encourage them to feel the rope and see it as a material resource for new products, rather than something that should be consigned to landfill.
We knotted, weaved, plaited, threaded and combined the synthetic netting with simple jewellery findings and each attendee went away with a few new skills, loads of information and a new bracelet or two to help them tell the story to others. It was an encouraging sight.
We also had time to catch up with the great guys and gals that make up the Brighton Etsy team, who have also teamed up with the World Cetacean Alliance to create new pieces inspired by their Untangled project brief. Launched at March of the Mermaids, the pieces range from patches to jewellery again – with a percentages of all the product sales from now until Christmas being donated directly to the World Cetacean Alliance.
And one of them is Lulu – of which I am extremely proud have the very first prototype for. She always gets stacks of attention when I wear her and I’m delighted that I can now direct people to Designosaur’s shop to get their own!
One of the purchases we made was this awesome print as a tote bag by Hello Dodo… just made us smile!
Take a look at their blog here to see all the pieces created by their members for WCA.
So, overall, a great fundraising and awareness raising day at March of the Mermaids for the World Cetacean Alliance – and watch this space for some more very exciting news about our work with WCA soon…!
(images by claire potter and the Brighton Etsy Team)
We think it is pretty safe to say that Kickstarter has dramatically changed the way products are marketed and manufactured. If there is any place to see the cutting edge in product launches, it is here. And we were delighted to see the new product line from Plane Industries go live – PLANE – a series of accessories made from reclaimed aeroplane textiles.
Mostly destined for landfill, aeroplane seating textiles that have been removed are by their very nature, hardwearing, with many years of use often left in each section. So, Plane Industries have decided to recover this waste material and reinvent it into luxury travel goods, from phone covers to weekend bags.
The pieces are well designed and look well made, using quality fixings and secondary materials, with a quilted cross hatch pattern reminiscent of other high-end pieces of luggage. Available in blue plain / striped colourways, the products mean business. Luxury reinvented, they say, but luxury in a different way…
Hear hear. But what we particularly like about the range is the attention to detail, along with the emphasis on stories and history. Each item gets stamped with the fingerprint of the material – the heights reached, the miles travelled. Things that take the piece from the ordinary to the extraordinary, and things that help to identify the product as something far more special than a mass produced item.
When using ‘waste’ materials, it is critical that these stories are communicated from the maker to the eventual product owner. We like things that have history, yet we are conditioned to think that ‘waste’ is worthless. And whilst using reclaimed materials is critical as our resources continue to deplete, costs are often higher, meaning that we need to connect waste with a higher standard of product. This is no mean feat, but those that do it well, do it very well indeed. The PLANE range of products certainly does this well.
To top it all? Plane Industries will also stamp your initials on the tag. Personalisation, ownership, emotional attachment – meaning love, care and a long product life…
Head over to the PLANE main site, and check our their Kickstarter page (till August 11th 2016), where you can pledge for something special.
As we mentioned last week, we took a little trip recently to the rather glorious city of Barcelona, where we spied some fantastic products made from the waste of the city. Last Thursday we looked at the recycled banner wallets and bags of Vaho, and today we are looking at Barcelona Paper, who (aptly) create gorgeous little utility styled notebooks from recycled paper.
Created by a group of ‘professionals from the paper world (manufacturers, printers, bookbinders and creatives) who are worried about the environment’, Barcelona Paper works in collaboration with the city council in Barcelona to capture and reprocess the waste paper into new products.
With around 3 million people living and working in Barcelona (plus the tourists – like us), that is a stack of paper waiting to be reutilised. And with each of the products in the Barcelona Paper range being guaranteed to be 100% recycled and created from the city waste you know that you are helping to create a dent by purchasing one of the notebooks.
We could not think of better gifts to bring back for people.
Coming in a range of different sizes and formats, the range is also available with both plain kraft and bright over printed covers in block colour or typographic patterns. Plus, they are pretty reasonable too – ranging from about €4 upwards.
So – visiting Barcelona? Hunt out the Barcelona Paper range in the Tourist Information centres, paper shops and artisan design shops. A great purchase to support a great initiative.
Last weekend, when the UK was imploding from the shock of Brexit, we were very pleased to be elsewhere – watching the events unfold from the sunny climes of Barcelona. And whilst we were there, we found a stack of innovative companies who are channelling the cities waste into new products. First up is Vaho, who use reclaimed vinyl banners as their base material.
In a similar way to Swiss company Freitag, who convert truck tarps into new accessories, Barcelona based Vaho take the advertising banners that proliferate through the vast city and convert them into bags, wallets, belts and cases – with each one being unique. Their tag line of ‘Trashion Bags handmade in Barcelona’ says it all.
Of course, the key factors of the vinyl banners are durability (strength and waterproofness) with the ability to print good images on the material, but despite their ephemeral nature when used for advertising a date specific event, they are notoriously hard to recycle. With metal eyelets and other co-mingled materials, the banners are often consigned to landfill.
But the bright colours they have, combined with their durability make them perfect for use in every day accessories. You don’t want your stuff getting wet, after all.
So it was with delight that we spotted a Vaho outlet store tucked away in the gothic quarter of Barcelona.
The first dilemma was to choose the shape we fancied – with a number of different configurations, zips, pockets and sizes available, the large array of accessories was mind boggling. And once you had chosen your model, you then had to choose your colour combination…
Some were quite plain, some had text, some referenced Barcelona landmarks and events, some were completely abstract. It took ages.
But really, this is part of the charm. It was great to find a product that we could take home as a memento of our visit that was not only useful, but was made by hand in the city directly from the waste material generated advertising things to tourists like us. A sort of self fulfilling product purchase, but hey. We know this wallet will last for a very, very long time.
Today – June 8th – is World Oceans Day – a day where we can all come together and pledge to do something fantastic for our oceans, beaches, marine life and coastal regions. It is something that is very close to our hearts and has driven our studio product and material research for a good couple of years. We showed the first round of our creations at Clerkenwell Design Week this year – from a chandelier created with the World Cetacean Alliance to concept products and jewellery made from beach cleans with Surfers Against Sewage and Parley.
And we have only just got started. As they say – watch this space…
PS – want to get your hands on some of the stuff we’ve been creating recently from marine plastic? Look out for a little giveaway comp we will be running on Twitter and Instagram today too!
So – will you join us and create a pledge for World Oceans Day? Take a look below for how to get involved…
There is little saying which states ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. Well, that is May for us. And we made it. With Artists Open Houses each weekend, regular studio work and teaching, May is always rammed, but we decided to pile on the pressure and add on our very first appearance at Clerkenwell Design Week too. Why not.
And it was fantastic.
We were based in the old police holding cells of the House of Detention for Platform – a curated show of ‘up and coming design talent’ which showed a mix of mostly furniture and home related products from a fantastic mix of designers. We were there to show and discuss our ‘Ghost Gear Chandelier’, which we created earlier this year for the World Cetacean Alliance and other products which were borne from the plastic related litter we recovered during our Big Spring Beach Clean for Surfers Against Sewage.
Utilising the Parley A.I.R. principle, (Avoid Intercept Redesign), we created a series of sculptural vessels, woven seat bases and jewellery pieces from waste plastic, netting and rope, which were shown in our little cell alongside the Ghost Gear Chandelier. We had the plastics collected by us and our volunteers on our two hour SAS Big Spring Beach Clean and scattered them in a ‘tide line’ on the sand floor of the cell. We had some beautiful graphics that showed the bubble netting feeding method of the humpback whales and the issues with marine plastic.
We were ready for people to visit and talk to us about the issues with plastic waste, and how, as designers, we sit on the forefront of the battle lines not only with the materials we specify, but utilising stuff at the ‘end of life’. What took us rather by surprise was the incredible response we had to the pieces – from tears of sadness to enquiries of how large we could make a similar piece – ‘would you be able to make it large enough for a hotel lobby…?’ Er, yes. Our base material is, unfortunately, far too easy to source.
We could make these chandeliers anywhere in the world – possibly the most depressing product plan we have had to date.
But this was the point. We were there to open peoples eyes to the issues. Make them think. Make them notice stuff. Pick up a few bits when they were on the beach. Refuse that plastic straw. And from the responses we got – from joy, hugs, business cards and emails, to tears and shamed silence – we certainly reached people.
This is why we design.
And as the three days whizzed by, we found that people were asking what we were going to do next with the project. What were we going to show at Clerkenwell Design Week next year? When could they buy the stuff on show? How could they stay in touch – and how could they help?
Well, we think we have found our calling. Expect to see a deeper level of research and a deeper amount of transformation of marine litter into new products at Clerkenwell Design Week next year, hopefully working more with our great partners this year – Surfers Against Sewage, Parley for the Oceans and the World Cetacean Alliance – plus others we have already chatted to…
We truly believe that designers have a great power and great responsibility and need to use it for good. Just like Spiderman, or maybe in our case Aquaman.
Thank you to everyone who visited us. Thank you to our awesome partners – Surfers Against Sewage, Parley for the Oceans and the World Cetacean Alliance. Thank you to Monty Hubble who allowed us to use his drone imagery of humpbacks bubble netting in our info section. And thank you to Clerkenwell Design Week for inviting us to exhibit what is quite a left field thing (and asking us back next year). See you at Clerkenwell next year, and keep an eye on the blog to see how things are developing in the meantime…
Fashion is often heralded as one of the biggest bad boys when it comes to wastefulness and a huge turnover of raw materials – telling us daily that the new thing is the best thing. Fashion moves quickly. The waste clothes soon follow. But not all fashion is created this way, and we were really interested to discover Finnish brand Tauko Design, who use reclaimed textiles in their collections.
Based on waste textiles from the service sector, Tauko Design takes lots of sheets (often waste from hospitals), dyes them in vibrant colours and completely transforms them into new items.
“In our creations, we show the minimalism of the Nordic design tradition as well as the coolness of the Finnish landscape. There is always a hint of Baltic humor in our garments; small colorful details that give them a unique edge. We love big pockets and guarantee that the clothes won’t limit anyone from biking, running, dancing or just having a rest. Each of our designs were made with passion and commitment, always keeping in mind to make them work for diverse occasions and various body types.
We want to keep it classy, yet make the day a brighter one!”
What is really interesting is that the intro quote from Tauko says absolutely nothing about reclamation, recycling or reuse. It’s just part of what they do.
Many people have a preconception that ‘sustainable fashion’ has a particular ‘look’. Hair shirt and sandals is the phrase that we often coin for this kind of preconception – that all sustainable products are somehow stuck in the 1970’s. But of course, sustainable fashion can be anything but. We are totally in love not only with the ethos of Tauko, but their stunning designs too.
We have been working on this project for a little while now – a new external planter for the landscaped area outside the Duke of York’s Cinema in Brighton, and this week, we finally saw it jump out of our screens.
Based on the huge amount of converging lines that meet up in this part of Brighton, the new planter has been commissioned by Brighton and Hove City Council to replace an old, defunct standard structure. The geometric shape that has emerged from the road lines on the plan has now been built locally from 20mm steel which will be galvanised for durability. The external faces are due to be clad in reclaimed decking from the Palace Pier in Brighton and are being bolted to the frame to ensure that each piece can be replaced if required.
The planting will be a selection of hardy perennial and the whole piece is set to be installed in the next month or so. We will keep you updated on the progress…
It appears to be IKEA week here on the blog, but there were two launches that particularly caught our eye. Yesterday we were looking at the new indoor gardening kit being launched by the global behemoth, today we are looking at their Art Event 2016 – and one particular print and artist in particular that uses marine plastic…
Mandy Barker is a photographer based in Leeds who, like us, has become obsessed with the masses of plastic based marine litter that is accumulating in our global oceans. Her photographic print for IKEA features marine plastic recovered from across the world, brought together into one, circular mass.
“It gives the impression of a universe, an almost hidden world under the sea, using the accumulation of plastic debris you find there.”
We find this a really poignant choice for IKEA. Whilst they do have a forward thinking sustainability policy their use of plastic in their products is incredibly well known. Sure, plastic means colour and durability, but the cheap cost of the products on the shelves do not scream of a product to be kept and cherished long term. Were there any IKEA derived marine plastics in the image we wonder.
Of course, once a product has left the stores it is up to us what happens to it – we hold the responsibility as the users, but even still, we think this marine plastic print by Mandy Barker speaks volumes.
Is this IKEA facing the responsibility for the impact of it’s products through it’s prints? Who knows.
But if this marine plastic print raises more of an awareness of this huge global issue, then that can only be good. We may even get one ourselves for the studio.
One thing about being a designer is that you are continually researching and noticing stuff. Everywhere. We barely switch off. Which is why last week, whilst in the mountains snowboarding, something caught my eye… Someone was sitting at a bar at 2300m above sea level with a jacket sporting the universal ‘recycling’ logo. Then I saw another. And another. Picture Organic Clothing was all over the mountain on snowboarders and skiers of all ages. I was very excited indeed and became quite a Picture spotter over the six days.
So, why was I so excited? Picture, who were founded in France in 2008, are the forerunners of truly sustainable snow / surf / skate wear – making all their kit from recycled or recovered or organic raw materials, from cottons to polyesters. Whilst many brands do use some recycled or even organic content, this is often a bit of lip-service to the ‘eco’ section of their brand. With Picture, it is their whole brand.
And I was also excited because of the volumes of people I saw wearing it. Often ‘eco’ products are hailed as being ‘for all’ yet actually target a very niche set of people, be it aesthetically or cost wise. Picture proudly display their credentials literally on their sleeves, but even through the style is very distinct (bold and geometric), there is no stereotypical wearer. They sit very stylishly on the mountain. Picture products are responsible and desirable.
They are also comparable cost wise to other brands, so the sometimes argument of responsible products being out of the price range of consumers also does not apply. Yes, we are talking about a lot of money for a jacket (in three figures), but any good quality snowboard jacket will set you back this amount.
Of course, when we think about sustainable products, the best option is to keep what you already have, but it is fantastic that when it does come the time to replace it, you have the best possible option available – a well considered product made from recycled or reclaimed materials.
An interesting feature of some of the Picture products is also their inbuilt ‘second life’ features, such as rucksacks that can be cut apart at the end of their usable life and transformed by the owner into everything from pencil cases to laptop bags.
As well as encouraging reuse through this ‘second-life’ option, Picture jackets also feature internal sections that are made from the offcuts of the making process, minimising wastage of precious materials on the factory floor. And if a piece of apparel does truly end it’s life, then Picture will take it into their own recycling system for recovery, reuse or donation. With a 95% same material content, the Welcome Jacket is the first 100% recyclable technical jacket on the market.
It is so great – and so exciting to see a brand that cares deeply, and is really thinking through the issues with truly sustainable apparel design. It is even more exciting to see it going from strength to strength and being adopted on a huge scale. People really do care.
So – when my current kit runs out, guess what brand’s kit I will be wearing as I hammer down the slopes on my board?