*** 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

 

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 – circular economy product experiments from the Punah Project…

Circular Economy design is still a terminology that is either unknown or unrelatable to many, yet this year at the London Design Festival there were a number of projects which aligned with these principles. One such project was the Circular House we previewed a couple of weeks ago, which was created from waste construction materials, and whilst wandering around the London Design Fair this year (formerly TENT and Superbrands), we found the rather wonderful Punah Project.

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On a relatively understated stand created from corrugated cardboard, the Punah Project was a delight – and quite a contrast to the mash of ‘new’ and ‘updated’ things in the surrounding halls.

The project was incubated by Indian manufacturers, Godrej and Boyce, who looked at their various waste streams and realised that something needed to be done – to not only stem the flow, but maximise their potentials and values. The Punah (sanskrit for ‘again’) Project was born.

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What is critical in initiatives such as these is that the Punah Project identified and examined each of the waste streams, however complicated, tricky or unsexy. From waste metal crimping pieces to waste oils and lubricants, each waste was catalogued and explored.

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How could each stream be completely reinvented? 

punah-project-metal-embroidery-3On show at the London Design Festival there were a few circular economy solutions to the wastes from Godrej and Boyce – with transformations on a scale from literal and recognisable to highly process driven and utterly indistinguishable from the original ‘waste’.

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Cotton gloves were turned into fabrics – woven into panels and chair seats, as was copper wires and waste electronics. Tiny pieces of crimped metal were painstakingly added to canvas to create reflective embellished pieces of embroidered cloth, which in turn, were made into ‘products’ – a clutch handbag and pair of shoes that were very far from their humble origins.

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On the more abstract end of the scale, waste oils were reformed into stunning amber-like blocks, set like glistening parquet on the surface of the stand and graphite powder was incorporated into deeply matt black tiles, which had the added benefit of being conductive.

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The Punah Project was a joy to discover – a really forward thinking movement by a manufacturer and delivered with skill and deep consideration to not only the craft of reusing materials, but the actual process of manufacture into more ‘high design’ materials. Let’s hope this circular economy reuse attitude replicates…

 

(images by claire potter)

Monday Makers – Smile Plastics…

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.

Sustainable chopping board recycled plastics by Smile Plastics

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.

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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.

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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)

explorer-1m-wide-lowresWhat 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.

(www.smile-plastics.com / Instagram @smileplastics / Twitter @smileplastics)


a HUGE thank you to Smile Plastics – and stay tuned for our own reveal here on The Ecospot with a new studio project using lots of recycled plastic from Smile Plastics! 

(all images courtesy of Smile Plastics)

It’s Zero Waste Week – here are our top 5 zero waste tips…

We cannot believe it’s been a year since the last one, but Zero Waste Week is here! Founded by the fantastic Rachelle Strauss, the first full week of September each year is dedicated to Zero Waste – really trying to think about the waste that we all produce, and making positive changes that will hopefully last for the rest of the year. Look at the fantastic Zero Waste Week website for lots of tips, but to get you started, here are a few from us at The Ecospot…

1 – ditch the single use water bottles. This is a very quick and easy one to start, but my goodness it makes a difference. It is estimated that we use and throw away around 5,000 plastic drinks bottles every 15 seconds in the UK – the majority of which does not make it into the recycling stream. So – ditch the single use bottle and get a nice reusable bottle, like this stainless steel one by Klean Kanteen for Surfers Against Sewage.

And while you are over at Surfers Against Sewage, why not sign the online petition for the campaign Message in a Bottle, which is calling the UK Government to introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles to get them recycled and out of landfill and the ocean! (PS – claire is a rep for SAS in Brighton now too!)

2 – say no to plastic straws! Ah, summer. The time of lazy afternoons slurping iced drinks in an effort to cool ourselves down. Except that plastic straw is a terrible example of single use plastics (SUP’s) – used for a tiny amount of time and then thrown away. Bonkers. Given that we go to so much effort to extract oil, isn’t it crazy that we use it for things like straws? So – as they say – just say no. Or bring your own – you can get some rather marvellous stainless steel straws that you can use again and again…

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3 – get a reusable coffee cup… spotting a theme here? The quickest, easiest and often most effective way to get into Zero Waste habits is to look at the disposable things in your life and find an alternative. Recently, the television programme Hugh’s War on Waste, fronted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall demonstrated how many coffee cups are discarded in the UK every year (around 2.5 billion). It also demonstrated how many people were optimistically putting them into recycling bins not knowing that a thin layer of polyethylene on the inner surface of the cup meant that it was not recyclable. Taking your own coffee cup can be a bit of a behaviour change at first, but once you are in the routine of sticking it in your bag (or leaving your house in the morning with a cup of tea / coffee in it), you will soon get into the habit. Plus, you can often show your support for your favourite charity and perhaps even get a discount on your coffee too. (Sea Shepherd cup from Keep Cup – £14)

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4 – make your own lunch. And take it in a reusable container… We’ve done drinks. Now for the food. Buying your lunch out will not only cost more money, but the packaging that comes with ‘convenience’ is hard to swallow. Little plastic forks, endless wrapping, separate dressing tubs – it all adds up to a huge amount of waste. By making your own you are also tackling Zero Waste on two fronts – stopping buying stuff covered in single use plastic and probably eating something that may otherwise have ended up in the bin. Yesterdays leftovers. We really like stainless steel containers for our lunch, but a plastic tub will do to.

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5 – wash your face with a cloth. Not a face wipe. We remember as children being pestered by our mothers to wash our faces with our flannels. We each had one on a different coloured piece of ribbon and mum would soon know if we hadn’t as it would be as stiff as a board. And still, to this day, it’s one of the first things we do every day. But with the advent of ‘convenience’ there are many options when it comes to washing our faces, most notably and wastefully, the face wipe. These synthetic inventions are mostly not biodegradable and are a main contributor to marine waste. So – get a face cloth instead and use it each day. Team it up with a nice microbead free face wash and you’re set.

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So – there is our very quick and very easy Top 5 Tips for Zero Waste Week. We are sure that you can think of plenty more and do head over to Rachelle’s main website for Zero Waste Week to see lots more tips.

(images via associated links)

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.

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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…

London Design Festival 2016 – our top sustainable event tips…

It is that time of year again, and starting on 17th September, the London Design Festival is pretty much here. And each year it gets bigger, so we have looked through the line-up so far and picked out our top 5 sustainable visit tips for the festival…

  • Soak, Steam, Dream – Reinventing Bathing Culture with Roca:

A free photography exhibition at the Roca main gallery, Soak, Steam, Dream shows a series of architect designed bath houses from around the world which deal with different issues relating to water use and the rituals of bathing. It was this particular image above by Raumlabor in Gothenburg that caught our attention – the use of corrugated cladding and reused material was something very interesting to the norm… click here for full details.

  • The Circular Building – The Building Centre:

It is a very sad fact that the construction industry produces three times more waste than UK households, half of which is not recycled. Keeping materials at their highest value for longer changes this and is the main thinking behind circular economy processes – a way we should all be designing for the future. The Circular Building by Arup, The Built Environment Trust, Frener & Reifer and BAM pushes circular economy thinking at one of the largest scales – a full size building… click here for more details.

  • ‘Waste Not Want It’ Bloomburg Launches 5th Edition:

The WNWI initiative sees some of Europe’s most dynamic designers approach upcycling in innovative ways. Commissioned by Bloomberg and curated by Arts Co, 8 new furniture installations, made almost entirely out of Bloomberg’s own waste, are displayed throughout the building. This will be a really interesting exhibition – really bringing home not only what can be made from ‘waste’ (and how desirable it can be), but how much is thrown away… click here for more details. 

  • Ecotopia – A Sustainable Vision for a Better Future:

Ecotopia is a multi-sensory installation exploring the appeal of Utopian thinking in envisaging a sustainable future for our planet and society. It showcases the ideas of leading scientists, academics, designers and architects who are currently looking at climate change and sustainable solutions. A mixture of conceptual thinking, physical and virtual installations, Ecotopia could just be a window into our future… click here for more details. 

  • Plasticity Forum:

As we hurtle into the Anthropocene, plastic is that wonderous material that has helped to shape the new age. But what does the future hold for plastic? How can we harness the usefulness of a material that can take centuries to degrade and remove it from the single use association it currently has? The Plasticity Forum brings together a great panel of experts to discuss this and far more… click here for more details.

So – our first top five of sustainable events at the London Design Festival 2016. No doubt there will be more added to the list in coming weeks, and we will bring you our top picks as they are revealed…

(images via London Design Festival)

Microbeads – the issues and how you can avoid them…

As many of you will know, we are marine litter obsessives here at the claire potter design studio, with our own ‘passion research’ concentrated around the huge marine litter and ocean plastic issues. So we were delighted to see an appeal for the UK banning of cosmetic microplastics and microbeads hit the headlines on 24th August.

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The Environmental Audit Committee has stated, very correctly, that the microplastics which are under 5mm in size – often called microbeads can be found hidden in daily use items such as shower gel scrubs and toothpaste. These microbeads can now be found in the worlds oceans – as far away from human habitation as the Arctic, trapped in the diminishing sea ice, floating in the water columns and being consumed by all of marine life. For us, this is unfortunately something that we have known about for a long while, but it is very encouraging to see it exposed to such a wide audience in the top line news as an issue that needs addressing.

What is microplastic?

Now, the term microplastics covers many things, including plastics that have photodegraded into tiny pieces in the oceans, fibres that are lost from washing of synthetic materials like fleeces (up to 2g per wash) and the tiny beads which can be found in cosmetics, which are too small to be caught in filter systems. It is this last group that have been called out in the recent report – and if anything, the easiest to tackle. We just need to stop putting microbeads into our products. And when you consider that up to 100,000 microplastic beads can be washed down the drain from just ONE shower, a ban will go a very, very long way. It is estimated that up to 51 trillion pieces of microplastic have accumulated in our oceans. The reality is, nobody quite knows how much in there and we are just starting to learn about the consequences.

The US have already started a phased ban of the addition of microbeads into products, starting with a ban on all cosmetics containing microbeads from July 2017, and some would argue that it never should have taken so long for the UK government to begin action themselves. Countless campaigns such as Beat the Microbead from the Marine Conservation Society and similar campaigns such as Ban the Bead from Surfers Against Sewage have brought the issue to public attention over recent years, but this new report should push that rolling ball a little further towards legislation.

So, whilst the decision is made by the UK government on whether, and when to ban microbeads in cosmetics, what can you do in the meantime? We would advocate using the acronym from marine litter activists, Parley for the Oceans – AIR – Avoid / Intercept / Redesign. As consumers, we can choose to AVOID products with microbeads in.

How to go microbead free…

But of course, no product is going to emblazon the fact that is contains such damaging ingredients on the front of the label. No. You need to do a little investigation…

Look for products that state they have 100% natural scrubs in, such as the Original Source scrub range (which use almond fragments instead), or products by ethical manufacturers, such as Lush, who do a magnificent range of plastic free alternatives and offer refill and low packaging options.

Shower scrubs and face scrubs are quite easy. The harder ones to seek out are the microbeads in toothpaste. So – turn the packet over and look at the ingredients. If you see any of the below, you will likely have a product with microbeads in your hands:

– Polyethylene / Polythene (PE)
– Polypropylene (PP)
– Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
– Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
– Nylon

See any of these? Put the product down. Vote with your wallet and find a better, microbead free alternative. They are there and they are likely to not cost any more than those with plastic in.

And of course, there is an app for that too. The Beat the Microbead app, which was previously just available in Europe, now contains information on those products that contain microbeads. Use the app to scan barcodes and find out more about the products…

It is critical that we minimise the plastic that enters our oceans as the damage that it is having on the marine environment is quite staggering and hugely unreported in general media. But as individuals we do not have to feel helpless. We can do our own small part. And personally banning microplastics and microbeads from our homes and workplaces is a great way to start.

***SPOTTED*** the Eco Cooler – an air conditioning unit made from plastic bottles…

Many of us are very used to solving problems with a few clicks of the mouse. So when the temperature rises, fans and air conditioning units are purchased and plugged in around the globe, delivering cool air to make like a bit more bearable. But what if you can’t do this? What if you live in a hot country but do not have the means to ask Amazon to deliver you a fan, or indeed, the electricity to plug it into. This is the case for thousands of people across the globe. But there is something that could help, and could be made wherever it is needed – an air conditioning unit made from plastic bottles, called the Eco Cooler.

Using no electricity at all, the Eco Cooler, developed by Ashis Paul at Grey Dhaka works by funnelling the hot air from outside through the narrow neck of the bottle, compressing the air and cooling it – for example – breathe on your hand and it feels hot. Blow on your hand and it feels cool. It’s the same, very low tech method.

And of course, as we write about a great deal here on The Ecospot, plastic bottles can be found literally in all corners of the planet. Using them, or even reusing them as in the Eco Cooler is a very good idea indeed.

Mounted on a piece of waste board, this incredibly simple addition can lower the internal temperature by over 5 degrees – with no electricity required. In just 3 months, over 25,000 have been installed – many from the free downloadable plans available to all.

A great invention indeed.

(images via Inhabitat)

Monday Makers – Solidwool…

This week on Monday Makers we have a company who are really thinking differently about materials, waste, locality and just what you can do with a sack of wool… We are delighted to introduce Solidwool.


 Hi there! Please tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Solidwool is myself and my husband, Justin. We are based in Buckfastleigh, in south-west England, on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. A beautiful part of the world. We are lucky to live here.

We’ve developing Solidwool since 2012, but the material and products have been on sale since the beginning of 2015.

Justin Floyd & Solidwool

What do you make?

We have created a totally unique material called Solidwool. The easiest way to describe it is to say it is like fibreglass, but with wool.

We took inspiration from our home of Buckfastleigh, an old woollen town. We thought, if we can find a new way of working with wool then perhaps we could bring some wool industry back to the town. And in turn, create some local jobs.

Solidwool - Herdwick wool (Photo credit Jim Marsden) 2

The wool we use is coarse and undervalued, typically from hill-farmed sheep. It has lost its perceived value and so for many, it is seen as a by-product of sheep farming. A waste product.

We see a beauty in this undervalued resource and have used it to create a material which capitalises on wools inherent strength and turns it into a beautiful alternative to reinforced plastic.

Currently we make our products using wool from the iconic Herdwick sheep of the Lake District. We will soon also be introducing a Dartmoor Scotch Blackface Solidwool to the range.

Solidwool Hembury Chair (4)

The wool is combined with a bio-resin in a unique process we have developed. The resin has a roughly 30-40% bio content. The great thing is that the bio-resin industry is moving forward all the time. We aim to make a 100% natural composite, one day.

We design and manufacture our own range of furniture using Solidwool material. We also work with other companies who see a use for Solidwool products in their range. So far we have worked with companies such as Finisterre, Artifact Uprising and Blok Knives along with supplying flat sheet material to interior design projects for Brewdog Soho and the new Bertha’s Pizza in Bristol.

What is your favourite piece you create, and why?

The Hembury Chair.

Hembury Chair (with Feist Forest Samara table) (2)

It was the first product we created and so will always be a special one for us. It embodies so much of the rollercoaster that goes with setting up your own business. The amazing highs and the inevitable harder times.

What inspires you?

The outside. There is so much to be gained from time spent in the great outdoors. Humans have created so many amazing inventions and made such technological advances, but you can’t beat the stripped back, beauty of the natural world to clear the mind and inspire.

Solidwool - Herdwick wool (Photo credit Jim Marsden) 3

What is your favourite place? 

So many, no favourites, just lots of great places for many different reasons.

The sanctuary of home and that spot in our lounge in the morning sun. The raw beauty of Iceland. The mountains in Nepal. The campsite on St Agnes in the Scillies, totally exposed and facing out towards the Atlantic Ocean. The Scarlet Hotel, an amazing space with the best spa.

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

The ban of single-use plastic. Plastic is in some ways an amazing durable material that has been created, but then it is used for single use items. It’s a complete materials mismatch.

It’s awesome to see how England’s plastic bag usage has dropped 85% since the 5p charge was introduced last October. Just think where else this could be rolled out to similar effect.

A Solidwool Dozen - New York Loft

What is your studio / company motto? 

It’s hard to pin one motto down, we have taken inspiration from so many different things.

Tim Smit, the creator of the Eden Project once said that “beauty will be the most important word of the next 15 years”. I think there is some truth in that. We want to create a beautiful material that helps people feel connected to the wilds that it came from.

‘Work hard and be nice to people’ is definitely a good motto to live by. (this is our favourite too at the cpd studio!)

I also really like this quote from Henry van Dyke. “Use what talents you possess, the woods will be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” It’s a good reminder that you don’t have to be an expert at something to give it a try.

Feist Forest & Solidwool (5)

Where can we see you next? 

Our friends Gavin Strange and Jane Kenney have just set up an online contemporary company making and selling beautiful products. It’s called STRANGE and they will be selling Solidwool products. They are launching with a pop-up event in Bristol at the Christmas Steps Gallery from 25th – 28th August.

We will also be taking part in the DO Market again this year. Organised by Miranda West who runs the Do Book Co, it’s a small curation of like-minded brands brought together by the Do Lectures. The first one was last year and there was such a buzz. It’s in London and I recommend adding it to your diary – 26th November.

We are also moving into a new factory space over the coming months and so are thinking of organising an open day there to celebrate. If you want to come along, sign up to our mailing list at www.solidwool.com/signup.

(www.solidwool.com / Twitter @solidwool / Instagram @solidwool)



A HUGE thank you to Solidwool – check them out and follow them on social media – a wonderful material with a deeply considered ethos. We love it. 

(all images courtesy of Solidwool)

The Guardian features ocean based companies tackling marine litter…

A few years ago, I was training for the Brighton Marathon and spent a good chunk of time clocking up the miles along the seafront promenade. What struck me (through the utter boredom) was how many people were running too. Had they always been there? Were they training for an event too? Or had I just never noticed them until now? Everywhere I looked, there were people running. And so it is with everything marine litter. Each day, we find more and more articles, products, initiatives to log in our marine litter files. Is it that we just are more tuned in, or are there more people actually talking (and doing something) about it? Is this the start of the ‘sea change’ on marine litter?

Big Spring Beach Clean 3

Who can say. But we did notice that The Guardian published a rather interesting round up of ‘surf related product innovations’ not in their sport and lifestyle pages, but in their circular economy section, which we think is rather telling.

For many, business and product innovation is something that happens in the city, or tucked away in workshops and design studios across the globe. Talk to someone about the surf industry and not everyone will make the connection with forward thinking – sustainable – product creation.

However, it has been our experience that those who are the closest to the problem have the most to gain from creating positive change, and of course, they understand the issue completely. So a whole range of sustainable business and product innovations related to marine litter from surf industries should fit like a non-neoprene glove.

So – here is the run down from The Guardian’s article, published 02 August 2016…

Otter Surfboards – created from wood rather than synthetics, with timber from local, responsible forests and with all ‘waste’ used somewhere else in the system, these boards are the pinnacle of hand made…

surfers stood on beach with wooden surfboards

 

Rareform – billboard surf bags – in the same vein as our beloved Frietag truck tarp bags, these surf bags utilise everything the advertising vinyls are good at. Hardwearing, waterproof and minimising waste.

Patagonia and Yulex – natural rubber rather than synthetic neoprene wetsuits made from highly managed, sustainable forests – launched this week. (NB – Natural rubber has been a bit of a poster material in the last few years, but as demand has gone up, ethical practices have been swamped by those seeking to make a wad of cash from rubber plantations created from cleared natural forests) Great to see Patagonia taking the lead – again.

More Product Views

Enjoy Handplanes– made from mushrooms. Yes, really. And expect to see lots more products hit our shelves as we are only just starting to realise the potential of this material…

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FiveOceans – a surfboard fin made from recovered marine waste – working to save the five oceans.

ecoFin - Thruster Set for FCS Plugs

RubyMoon and Finisterre – swimwear made from Econyl – a yarn made completely from recovered waste nylon, such as fishing nets.

swimwear

So when you think about it, creating items from waste marine litter makes perfect sense, and who would be your earliest adopters? Those who work, live and play in the setting. They understand the issues and want to do something about it. It’s a great place to start.

(images via associated links)

Our ParleyAIR x Adidas marine plastic video…

There is nothing like a deadline. And yesterday evening, the end of July was the deadline for entries into the Parley x Adidas contest to win one of the concept pairs of new trainers made from recovered ocean plastic. As you can all imagine, with our studio obsession and work in marine litter (using the Parley AIR principles), these trainers are rather something special. We would LOVE to see a pair, let alone have the chance of having a set in the studio… So, we created a little video about why we think this is important and what we are doing about it and uploaded it to our Instagram account – something we have actually been meaning to do for a while. This contest was the nudge we needed. Our little vid is also a call to action if you will. Just think what we could achieve if we all work together…

Let us know your thoughts.

PS – we’ll certainly let you know if we get selected to receive a pair of the new ocean plastic trainers by Adidas and Parley – and be their ambassadors!

(video by claire potter design – shot using the MAVIS app)

***EVENT REVIEW*** – March of The Mermaids with World Cetacean Alliance…

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!

March of the Mermaids 2016 WCA workshop

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.

March of the Mermaids 2016 WCA workshop ghost gear jewellery

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.

March of the Mermaids 2016 WCA workshop 2
one of the ghost gear bracelets made at the workshops – complete with a nickel and zinc free little whale!

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.

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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!

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One of the purchases we made was this awesome print as a tote bag by Hello Dodo… just made us smile!

March of the Mermaids 2016 Hello Dodo

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)

SPOTTED – PLANE – luggage made from reclaimed aeroplane textiles on Kickstarter…

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.

PLANE phone sleeve

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.

PLANE products

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…

PLANE quote

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.

PLANE label

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.

PLANE messenger bag

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.

(images via the PLANE Kickstarter)

SPOTTED – sustainable product design at New Designers 2016… pt2

On Tuesday, we started our pick of the best sustainable design we spotted at the recent graduate design show New Designers – and with over 3,000 exhibitors showing their work it was no mean feat to select our favourite. Tuesday saw our pick of the ‘different materials’ projects, where the designers have rethought a waste material into something new. Today, we are looking at ‘recycling and repair’…

Starting at the University of Brighton’s 3D Design and Craft stand, we were delighted to see a really interesting mix of well thought out projects, finished beautifully.

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The work of Helen Jones, entitled ‘Alternate Endings’ looked to challenge the throwaway culture we have, and endeavours to reinstate the value of a product with visible repair.

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The range of products shown were really beautiful – from plastic repairs to ceramic and metal restorations. A very poetic and powerful set of pieces.

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Also on the University of Brighton stand was the work of Ella Hetheringon, who immediately had us hooked with her investigations into ‘Forgotten and Future Foods’.

Ella Hetherington 1

Looking into how we could both eat sustainably whilst connecting with the seasons, Ella also created tools made from site specific materials. The marine plastic handled knives were a real thing of beauty…

Ella Hetherington 2

Whilst the detailing on the folded leather bowls was delicate and considered. A very nice set of works indeed.

Moving onto plastics, there were two recycled plastic projects which really stood out for us this year – and interestingly, both won New Designers Awards too. Is this a sustainable shift we see?

Jack Hubery 4

First up is the work of Jack Hubery, who tackled the issues with our obsessions with plastic by creating a kit system to allow people to reuse their own plastics at home.

Jack Hubery 3

The ‘Experiments in Recycled Plastic’ created a series of recycled plastic plates, made using a simple jig that fitted in a domestic oven. Would this type of plastic reuse increase the emotional connectivity with the material and encourage a more sustainable use of plastic? An interesting set of pieces for sure.

In a similar vein, Josh James from the University of West England was also using recycled plastic, with another ‘kit’ to allow plastic reuse at home.

Josh James 1

The pieces had a very appealing, sweetie style aesthetic, with colours and effects marbeled through both the geometrically moulded final products and the nuggets of sample combinations. We particularly liked the illustration of how much material went into a piece.

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And after winning the Not On the High Street Award, we will keep our eyes open for perhaps some bespoke recycled plastic pieces online soon…

So there we have it. Our top eight designers spotted at New Designers 2016 who were doing something sustainable and interesting. We look forward to seeing what they get up to next, and here’s hoping that we will have far more to cover next year.

(all images by claire potter)