Ghost Gear investigations… weeks five and six…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEEK FIVE and SIX summary…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(images by claire potter)

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…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(all images via Surfdome)

friday photo – FISH NOT PLASTIC…

friday photo no22 – FISH NOT PLASTIC!

fish-not-plastic

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

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

(image by claire potter design)

friday photo – hope…

Friday photo no21 – hope.

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

hope-for-clean-beaches-and-seas

(image by claire potter)

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.

global ghost gear initiative -agm-miami-16

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.

global ghost gear initiative -agm-2-miami-16

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…

global-ghost-gear-initiative-2016-attendee-photo
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.

global ghost gear initiative -agm-3-miami-16

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.

global ghost gear initiative -agm-raw-for-the-oceans

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…

global ghost gear initiative -agm-bureo-sunglasses

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)

Success as the UK plans to ban plastic microbeads!

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

Toothpaste 4

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

Good news?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Toothpaste 4

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.

New Surfers Against Sewage Regional Rep for Brighton!

A very quick post for the weekend – we are delighted to announce that Claire is to be one of new Regional Reps appointed by Surfers Against Sewage and will be covering the Brighton and Hove area! With the studio specialism and obsession with marine litter, the link up with Surfers Against Sewage is great – and will allow us to do even more with beach cleans and research to protect our beloved oceans.

west pier SAS regional rep

As they say – watch this space for more!

(photo by claire potter)

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…

Stacks Image 1505

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)

Join us on World Oceans Day…

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…

marine litter claire potter design clerkenwell design week 2016 5

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!

World Oceans Day marine litter claire potter design clerkenwell design week 2016 8So – will you join us and create a pledge for World Oceans Day? Take a look below for how to get involved…

(video by claire potter design – graphics by World Oceans Day)

Saltwater Brewery’s new ‘edible’ six-pack rings…

Next week, we will be up at Clerkenwell Design Week, exhibiting in the Platform House of Detention venue with our concept products created from marine waste we have recovered from the beaches of Brighton. We will be talking A LOT about marine plastic and it’s impact on our global oceans, so it is actually quite timely that there is a good news project which is aiming to mitigate these impacts. Meet the new, edible six-pack rings from US based Saltwater Brewery…

This brewery now makes beer with edible six-pack rings

Created from the by-product of the brewing process, the new style rings will break down naturally in the environment and provide food, rather than toxic laced plastic for marine animals to snack on. Given the fact that around 6.5 billion cans of beer were drunk in the USA last year, that amounts to a great deal of plastic can rings – many of which would have ended up in the oceans. This alternative, Saltwater Brewery claim, could actually become cost effective if adopted by large scale manufacturers – matching not only the price of plastic rings, but the strength also.

This, of course, is great news. If plastic could be removed from the beer can waste stream, then a long standing entanglement problem could have been eliminated, but there is a bigger issue here.

Brewery makes edible beer rings

If we are creating stuff that CAN be thrown into our oceans with no problems, are we not reinforcing what is, really, a negative behaviour? How can we expect people to differentiate between what is ok to chuck in the sea and what is not? Of course, if this new edible six-pack rings DO end up in the ocean, there is no harm done, but is this solution the best possible action?

Brewery makes edible beer rings

Of course, there is no right answer. We applaud an industry taking responsibility for what is a huge environmental issue caused by their products. This is certainly better. But is it best? We are not sure.

(image from Saltwater Brewery / We Believe / Caters)