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)

Ghost Gear investigations… Week one…

And we’re off! At the end of week 1, we’re taking a look back at the first developments from our research project titled ‘Investigating how Ghost Gear and Marine Plastics can become Precious Plastics’.

(If you don’t know what we’re talking about, take a look at our last post!)

So what have we been up to?

The week began with some desk based research to find out a little more about Ghost Gear around the ports of Shoreham and Newhaven; both included within – and at the borders of our research area. As it turns out, there isn’t a great deal to be found. (Information that is… we are sure there is plenty of Ghost Gear!) Both port authorities provide a reasonable amount of information on environmental policies through their webpages, however very little of this links directly to our research area. So I guess we can call this our first major finding – the port authorities of Newhaven and Shoreham have very little publicly available information relating to Ghost Gear! However, this isn’t a major problem for us as we have already began discussions with Fisheries Consultant and industry expert, Harry Owen. Harry is going to be contributing to the work of the project at various stages; but first he is helping to connect us to members of the local port authorities as well as local fisherman who will be able to provide us with the information we require.

We haven’t been sat at our desks all week either! On Tuesday we planned out our observational research. This meant evaluating each section of the Greater Brighton coastline to select areas to investigate and plot any washed up Ghost Gear. The map below shows the different areas for investigation.

At each location, we continue to record information including the types of gear, quantities and contamination levels. Wherever possible, we will also be removing the Ghost Gear so that we can take samples for testing.

These observations are now well underway! On Wednesday, we headed down to a very windy Newhaven beach to conduct the first on-site part of our research stage. This is one of the less commercial stretches of coastline in the Greater Brighton area – and the effects are obvious. Not only was there huge quantities of Ghost Gear, but the amount of plastic washed up on the beach was shocking. Just goes to show that just because you may see less of it on commercial, more populated beaches (because they are regularly cleaned), marine plastic is there… and it’s a serious issue.

We were able to remove a huge amount of gear from the beach; enough to fill a (now slightly smelly) hatchback…

This was repeated on Friday, when we travelled to sector 6 on our map – Rottingdean. With a combination of beach type, from rock groyne bounded pebbles to rockpools, we were particularly interested to see where the ghost gear collected. We had not gone far when we discovered an incredible amount of Ghost Gear wrapped around, under and within the huge rock groynes.

There was too much to leave, so – after braving the inner parts of the groyne (caution – do not try this at home!) we were able to cut free and haul up massive chunks of gear. We will be back to Rottingdean next week to carry on our survey on the rockpool stretches.

WEEK ONE summary:

  • publically available data on ghost gear from Shoreham and Newhaven ports is sparse.
  • ghost gear quantity is higher on less populated beaches.
  • ghost gear variety in the area ranges from nylon nets, to a variety of rope types and rope nets.
  • sometimes there are large accumulations of gear that is hard to retrieve easily, or safely.

BIG NEWS! Claire Potter Design to lead a new Innovate UK co-funded project in marine litter…

We have big and exciting news! Starting today, Claire Potter Design will be leading a £34,000 research project concerning marine litter in the greater Brighton area. The project aims to create local value from marine plastic waste and ghost gear; fishing equipment that has been lost, abandoned or otherwise discarded.

The project, titled ‘Investigating how Ghost Gear and Marine Plastics can become Precious Plastics’, is being co-funded by Innovate UK; the UK’s innovation agency, and will be supported by a number of parties including fisheries consultant Harry Owen, and Professor Martin Charter, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Design at the University for the Creative Arts. Progressing in 3 stages, the studio will begin by collecting data relating to marine plastic in the area including variations, volumes and the economic impact of their loss. The second stage is to define the problem, opportunities for reuse and how fishers can be involved in the process. The final stage of the 6-month project requires the development of small scale machinery that can be used to produce 20 prototype products from the recovered materials.

The public awareness of marine plastics and their impacts on our oceans, aquatic life and coastlines has greatly increased in recent years. Reports, campaigns and increasing media coverage have helped to highlight the issues of plastic ingestion and entanglement. Currently, recovered marine plastic is brought to the land in preparation for incineration or landfill, however plastics can last for up to 600 years meaning that they could prove a valuable resource material.

If value can be created from this ‘waste’ material, the incentives to remove it from our oceans will be increased, and both gear loss and recovery could increase mitigation. The material and machinery will also provide opportunities for an increase in localised, small scale manufacture, supporting a local economy for marine waste reuse in the greater Brighton area.

Despite this being their first funded research project in this area, and as readers of The Ecospot are probably aware, the team at Claire Potter Design are not new to marine litter research. Our multi-disciplinary design studio have been working in the area of circular economy design for a number of years, alongside volunteer roles as Global Ghost Gear Initiative Design Consultants for the World Cetacean Alliance, Regional Representatives for environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage, and sitting on the British Standards Committee, MADE; Design for manufacture, assembly, disassembly and end-of-life processing.

To ensure maximum benefit to all parties involved (including the public), we are providing complete transparency during the research. This will include regular reports and updates HERE at The Ecospot as well as public consultation and open meetings. This will provide a greater understanding of the public perception of marine plastic, as well as providing a useful resource for replication in other parts of the UK.

And why are we doing this…?

  • It is estimated that marine litter costs UK local authorities over £18m a year in removal and disposal (Surfers Against Sewage, 2014)
  • It has been estimated that over 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear alone are lost or discarded in our global oceans every year (Macfadyen, et al., 2009)
  • Ghost gear causes the death of around 1 million seabirds and an estimated 100,000 mammals per year through ingestion and entanglement. (Surfers Against Sewage, 2014)

So. Let’s get going eh? Follow our updates on the Precious Marine Plastics project tab above…

(all images by claire potter design)

‘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)

We’re back at Platform with ‘The Smack’ for Clerkenwell Design Week 2017…

Where has the year gone? It seems like only yesterday we were up at Clerkenwell Design Week for the first time with our ‘Ghost Gear Chandelier’ we built in collaboration with the World Cetacean Alliance and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative. And here we are – back in May – and heading to Clerkenwell Design Week for the second time with our new iteration of products made from marine litter – ‘The Smack’.

Image result for clerkenwell design week logo

This year, we have utilised 365 plastic sports drinks bottles that were picked up on an SAS supported beach clean we led in February with the Brighton and Hove Eco Supper Club – which was run on the same day as the Brighton Half Marathon.

Now, it has to be stressed that the Brighton Half Marathon HAD organised help to pick up the discarded Lucozade Sport bottles cast aside by the runners, but there were too many bottles and too few people helping too late in the day. Bottles were strewn over the beach and promenade on a blustery day – and we only made a dent in the bottles that we could see.

But even when the bottles were picked up by the organised contractors, they were not being separated – or emptied, so would have been consigned to the local incinerator. As circular economy designers, we were not going to let that happen to the bottles our group had collected, so they were brought back to the studio to be emptied, washed, sorted and re-processed. 

Many, many hours and 7 different processes later, we have created ‘The Smack’ for CDW17 – a series of 30 plastic jellyfish lights made from the Lucozade Sport bottles, which have also just been identified and reported as being the second worse item for recyclability in the UK. This exhibit is to demonstrate exactly how much you have to do to a sports drink bottle to make it re-usable, and how we could start to rethink the material…

So – come and say hi to us at Platform from Tuesday 23rd May – Thursday 25th May – and see ‘The Smack’… 

(and if you want to see our press release and download images, you can do so here…)

Welcome back.

Well. January has been and (almost) gone, but has certainly been eventful. The world as we know it has been turned upside down, with global turmoil and global uncertainty. And it can be really easy to lose heart. To become disillusioned and to become resigned to the fact that this is the way things are going to be from now on.

But this is not the way it has to be. 

Every few weeks or so, we re-do the studio window, with new ideas, new creations or new displays. In January, we came back from the break feeling that we had to do something. We had to be part of something that stood up and said No. We are all better than this.

So, perhaps because we went to watch Star Wars: Rebel One, the rebellion was very much in our minds when we came to redoing the studio window.

Resistance means Hope. Says it all really. Do not sit and despair. Stand up, join up and be hopeful.

Welcome to 2017…

(image by claire potter design)

Seasons Greetings from The Ecospot…

Well, 2016 has been eventful eh? But thank for being here with us at The Ecospot – we would like to wish you all the very warmest of seasons greetings and a peaceful new year.

Here’s to an exciting and positively disruptive 2017. See you in January.

(marine litter Christmas Tree image by claire potter and the world cetacean alliance – December 2016)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide – day 23 – the gift of time…

Almost Christmas Eve. We are nearly there folks. But if you have got to this point and still do not know what to get someone, we have one final suggestion for you. Give the gift of your time.

In a world where we are connected virtually at every minute of the day, giving someone your time is perhaps the most precious gift you can give.

Free, yet utterly priceless, time is also something we can all give, no matter where we are, or how lined our pockets are with gold.

And time spans all of the world too – taking time to stop and say hello to a neighbour, enjoy a cup of tea with a friend or make a phone call to someone at the other side of the globe is precious. Do a few hours of volunteering locally, help with someones shopping, undertake in a bit of lobbying for a cause that you support. It all adds up, yet it all takes time.

Touching base and keeping connected is so special. Standing up for causes you admire is important. So. Take your time and give it to someone else.

Last Christmas, Wham! may have given you their hearts, but as we know, the very next day, you gave it away. If they’d given time, they would have saved a little heartache and spread a little more love.

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 22 – donate to Sea Shepherd…

In the second of our virtual gifts for great projects and people we are featuring one of our most favourite movements here at The Ecospot – Sea Shepherd. Founded in 1977 as the direct action marine conservation group, Sea Shepherd run annual campaigns to protect marine life from the Faroes to the Southern Ocean. Tackling illegal fishing, whale hunts, seal hunts and the trapping of dolphins for transportation into a life of captivity, Sea Shepherd does exactly what they pledge to do – Defend, Conserve and Protect.

Image result for sea shepherd

Many people will know Sea Shepherd from the Whale Wars programmes, or more recently, the Ocean Warriors series, which tracks the Operation Icefish campaign from last season where the Sea Shepherd vessel, the Bob Barker, led by Captain Peter Hammarstedt chased the illegal Patagonian toothfish vessel, the Thunder for 110 days.

Bob Barker

The vast amounts of illegal gillnets that were recovered by Sea Shepherd’s Sam Simon vessel were used as evidence against the Thunder before they were given to Parley for the Oceans as part of their link up with Adidas. The result? Their new ocean plastic trainer that we have spoken about here as part of our own marine litter reporting.

adidas X Parley 1

But the heroic actions of Sea Shepherd that do so much to protect our oceans and marine life need supporting in so many ways. Even with a completely volunteer crew, the vessels and campaigns of Sea Shepherd cost money to run. Donating towards the running costs ensures that Sea Shepherd can continue to Defend, Conserve and Protect.

Donate through the main Sea Shepherd UK pages here, or buy merchandise from their ebay store here.

(images via Sea Shepherd / Adidas)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 21 – membership to Surfers Against Sewage…

Want to really give a gift that helps do something positive? Well, for the last few of days before the 25th, we have selected gifts that really help a cause, a charity or a movement. First up is a gift membership to Surfers Against Sewage…

Not just surfers and no longer just about sewage, SAS is one of the UK’s leading marine environmental charities protecting the UK’s oceans, waves and beaches for all to enjoy safely and sustainably, via community action, campaigning, volunteering, conservation, education and scientific research.

Claire is one of the local volunteer Regional Reps for SAS in Brighton and is incredibly proud to spread the powerful work that the whole SAS community undertakes. Gifting membership to someone really does help support the work of SAS on shores around the UK, plus your giftee will also receive a welcome pack of SAS goodies, 3 copies of Pipeline Magazine a year and member discounts in the SAS shop.

Support the work of SAS and gift a membership to someone who loves our beaches and oceans!

Available through the SAS website here – £4 a month or £48 annually…

(image from SAS)


the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 20 – Urban Foraging Cocktail workshop…

Ever wondered what edible things you walk past each day in Brighton and Hove? Not sure how to spot them or what to do with them? Well, for another of post free gift options in our Eco Gift Guide, we are shamelessly plugging one of our own events, but it will be a cracker! Join us for an introduction to foraging and a few top tips of where to find useful things, culminating in a HUGELY popular foraged cocktail making session using flavours gathered from the city of Brighton itself…

This special event led by Claire Potter (claire potter design) is part of the immersive experience at Patterns Bar, Brighton. Step through a transformed mystical entrance, and discover an enchanted forest filled with nostalgic treats and immersive visual feasts inspired by Britain’s woodlands and the wild outdoors in Winter.


The ground floor bar will be transformed into a winter wonderland reminiscent of scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia, brought to life by a multi-level digitally projected and interlinked forest, complete with softly falling snowflakes, inquisitive wild animals and scents of the forest air. Inside, you’ll find festive treats such a boozy hot chocolate menu and Hot Buttered Rum to enjoy as you watch a flock of birds fly around the room or a snow fox dart in front of you. Imagine watching the sunset from a discarded Chesterfield in Narnia with a warming cocktail in hand, dancing amongst the swirling snow in the glow of a Victorian lamppost and you will be half way to Woodlandia.


Claire will be leading a talk and discussion around urban foraging, but the best bit is that there will be a foraged cocktail workshop in the second half of the workshop – hands on making and sampling too!

Plus, as it is in February, the post Christmas and New Year detox will be over. The lovely cocktails we will be making use the very best of the new sprouts and shoots of the season, and as local as you can probably ever get…

Tickets on sale now – £15 per person on our Eventbrite page

(images via claire potter and woodlandia)

the Ecospot Eco Gift guide 2016 – day 19 – Magazine Brighton voucher…

Most postal dates for gifts in the UK are looming today or tomorrow, but do not panic. You can still give a gift that is thoughtful and supports good people. For instance, the joy of a new piece of print is something that should not be underestimated, but magazines can be very personal. We love discovering titles from small independent publishers – something different. Off the wall. Intriguing, or even challenging. Fortunately, we have the rather fabulous Magazine Brighton in the city, which has a fantastic selection of well known and little known publications. It is a lovely place to visit, but if you can’t make it to the store, you can still find them online…

Image result for magazine brighton

So if you know someone you loves discovering new print, then this could be the perfect gift. Stocking around 95% of the titles they have in the store, this is as good as you can get if you are not South Coast based. Search by name if you know what you are looking for, or search by category and find something new. Discovery is a wonderful thing.

Recently we discovered the Ocean issue of Wilderness, which blew us away. We also picked up a copy of the Stress Report from Do Books and also regular copies of our favourites – from Ernest Journal to Another Escape and more. We cannot fail to find something remarkable.

But as we have said, magazines are infinitely personal purchases. Grab one of the Magazine Brighton Gift Vouchers and give the gift of exploration for another.

(images via Magazine Brighton)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 18 – ticket to Pecha Kucha Brighton…

It has been said that we should be gifting experiences instead of stuff to be truly sustainable. Of course, it really does depend on what type of experience you gift, but sharing something special with a loved one will give the gift of precious memories, shared experiences and perhaps even a new skill. It could be something outdoors, something indoors, something to make you think or something to make you smile. So, for day 18 on our Eco Gift Guide we have chosen an experience close to us – tickets to volume 26 of Pecha Kucha Brighton…

Literally meaning ‘chit chat’ in Japanese, the Pecha Kucha format was dreamt up in 2003 by Tokyo based architects, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham who had had enough of watching long, tedious presentations by other architects. With just 20 slides and each slide being present for just 20 seconds, the 6 minute 40 seconds format was short, sweet and swallowable, and Pecha Kucha was born. There are now PK licence holders all over the world, replicating the format in cities across the globe.

The Brighton license is now held by Alex Leith (Viva magazine) and Zara Wood (aka Woody the illustrator and graphic designer), who present the Pecha Kucha nights every two or three months, each with a different theme. They are nights of great inspiration.

Claire has presented twice at Pecha Kucha nights in Brighton, under the themes of ‘studio’, ‘good grub’ (talking about urban foraging) and will also be presenting at the next volume of PK – under the theme of ‘RE’ on January 25th 2017. Expect people talking about REvolution, REcycling, REuse, REbellion, REsponsibilities and many other things starting with RE. It’ll be REally good. (sorry)

So why not think about popping along? Tickets are available from here and early bird options are just a fiver a piece, so will not break the bank and would be a great stocking filler. Give the gift of an experience, with a difference.

(images via Pecha Kucha Brighton)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 17 – Small Batch Coffee club subscription…

Whether you like it or not, many of us have become avid coffee lovers in the UK. Where we are based, in Brighton, you can barely walk 100m without stumbling upon another coffee shop that has only just opened. Of course, many of these are the faceless, homogeneous chains that dominate many a high street, but many of them are independent – coffee lovers turned coffee experts and baristas extraordinaire. We are lucky in Brighton too, as we have a really really nice little chain of the Small Batch Coffee Company, who do very nice coffee indeed, sourcing it directly, roasting it in Hove and preparing it with love. But what if you live outside of Brighton? Why should we get all the nice coffee? It’s day 17 on our Eco Gift Guide and we have the coffee subscription club from Small Batch Coffee…

small batch coffee club

The premise is simple. Choose how you would like the coffee to be delivered, from whole bean to espresso grind, then choose how long you would like the subscription to run – 3 or 6 months. Small Batch Coffee will then choose a different blend every fortnight for the period you have selected, grind and package it with care and send it off to an address of your choice with a little message from you.

Plus, the coffee itself is really special. Working directly with farmers to ensure coffee cherries of the highest quality, Small Batch Coffee comes in a variety of single origin and blended varieties – each with the guarantee that fair prices have been paid and there is no exploitation.

So – if you have someone further afield that you need a gift for, send them a little bit of coffee love from Brighton – they will thank you with every cup for the next three or six months…

(images via Small Batch Coffee)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 16 – McNair Mountain Shirt…

Buying clothes for someone else at Christmas is always rather tricky. Getting the size right, will they like it – and will they actually wear it and will it be used? But what if you gave a gift that not only was beautifully designed and made in Yorkshire, but a gift of a piece of clothing that would work really hard for the owner? That they could take into the elements with no fears whatsoever, that would see them through woodland walks, coastal wanders and mountain hikes? For someone that loves the outdoors, that would be a gift that would be special indeed. It’s day 16 on our Eco Gift Guide 2016 and we have chosen the beautiful Recycled Merino Wool Mountain Shirt by McNair…

Made from sustainably sourced worsted spun recycled merino wool, this tough athletically fitted shirt is water and wind resistant and also doesn’t hold odours. It has stunning detailing and comes in three, natural colours – smoke grey (above), midnight blue, and our favourite – cinder (below).

It is long enough to cover your back and the arms are long enough to go over your gloves, very much like a winter outer jacket. Mid layer or Top layer, this shirt would see you through all weathers and is a much more natural option than the synthetic, plastic coated, sealed and bright jackets that we often associate with ‘outdoor gear’.

Do we really need to coat ourselves in plastic to go outside? No.

We really like the fact that McNair do a recycled wool version too – it ticks all the boxes for us – a well made product in a responsible material that will last.

McNair mountain shirts come in a variety of fits too, for both males and females, so if the recycled merino isn’t quite their style, then take a look at the rest of the range, or give them a gift voucher so they can choose their own.

At over £300 each, they are not a frivolous buy, but it will be worth it, because a McNair Shirt is for life – not just for Christmas. 

(images via McNair shirts)