the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 8 – Lulu by Designosaur…

It’s day 8 already on our Ecospot Eco Gift Guide and we have chosen a very special gift indeed. We are all about the strong statements, and if you know someone who also has something to say and doesn’t mind being stopped at least three times a day to be asked where they got their necklace from, the strong, bold laser cut jewellery of Designosaur should be on your radar. With a range ranging from duck billed platypus to velociraptors, via Miami beachfront cafes and a barrel full of monkeys, Designosaur’s designs are wonderfully individual and creative. But for day 8, we are featuring a very special necklace in their range – the wonderful Lulu…

Orca Necklace. Killer Whale Statement Necklace. Whale Pendant. Endangered Species Necklace. World Cetacean Alliance Fundraising Jewellery

Named after a real UK orca that became entrapped in abandoned ghost gear, Lulu is a necklace that tells a story –  a story where over 100,000 mammals a year lose their lives due to becoming caught, or ingesting synthetic netting, rope and other plastic based debris. From the turquoise net that is laid over her body to the beach cleaned rope from which she hangs, Lulu is a necklace with a deep meaning.

Made as a fundraising piece for the World Cetacean Alliance, Lulu is an orca with a mission, with 25% of every sale going directly to WCA to aid in global cetacean protection.

I am lucky enough to have a Lulu, and I have lost count of the times I have been approached by complete strangers, asking about her and what she means. Telling the story of her creation and why marine litter is one of the most pressing issues we have for both our oceans and ourselves is a tale that breaks my heart yet gives me hope that people will also re-tell the same story and change will ripple out.

So – we are delighted to feature this very special necklace on our Eco Gift Guide today. It is a gift that gives back in so many ways…

*** PS we have ONE Lulu left at our studio for the Artist’s Open Houses – last weekend 10/11th December ***

(image by Designosaur)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 5 – Plastic Fish Sweatshirt by MCS

Ocean plastic has been a real focus for us over the last year or so, and we are delighted to be working with some great organisations, including Surfers Against Sewage and the World Cetacean Alliance to investigate scaleable solutions to the crisis. One of the most shocking facts came from the New Plastics Economy Report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation earlier this year, saying that if we continue in this throwaway nature, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans, by weight, by 2050. So, for day 5 of our Eco Gift Guide we have chosen this fantastic statement sweater from Rapanui and the Marine Conservation Society.

eco-gift-guide-day-5-plastic-fish-jumper-from-mcs

Made from fully traceable organic cotton in an ethically accredited, wind powered factory, this statement jumper features little fish gradually turning into plastic bottles as they swim across the front panel.

eco-gift-guide-day-5-plastic-fish-jumper-from-mcs-1

Whilst the actual truth of this print smarts a little, we love the fact that it says it all, without any text at all. A great print and a great jumper for anyone involved in, or concerned about the marine litter issue…

Available from the Marine Conservation Society website here for £35 + P+P…

(images via MCS)

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…

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

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

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

Green Man Festival 16 marine litter 3

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

Green Man Festival 16 marine litter 2

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

Green Man Festival 16 marine litter 5

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

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

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

Green Man Festival 16 marine litter 4

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

Green Man Festival 16 marine litter 1

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

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

(all images by claire potter design)

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)

SPOTTED – the marine plastic art print being launched by IKEA…

It appears to be IKEA week here on the blog, but there were two launches that particularly caught our eye. Yesterday we were looking at the new indoor gardening kit being launched by the global behemoth, today we are looking at their Art Event 2016 – and one particular print and artist in particular that uses marine plastic…

IKEA marine plastic print Mandy Barker 2

Mandy Barker is a photographer based in Leeds who, like us, has become obsessed with the masses of plastic based marine litter that is accumulating in our global oceans. Her photographic print for IKEA features marine plastic recovered from across the world, brought together into one, circular mass.

IKEA marine plastic print Mandy Barker

“It gives the impression of a universe, an almost hidden world under the sea, using the accumulation of plastic debris you find there.”

We find this a really poignant choice for IKEA. Whilst they do have a forward thinking sustainability policy their use of plastic in their products is incredibly well known. Sure, plastic means colour and durability, but the cheap cost of the products on the shelves do not scream of a product to be kept and cherished long term. Were there any IKEA derived marine plastics in the image we wonder.

Of course, once a product has left the stores it is up to us what happens to it – we hold the responsibility as the users, but even still, we think this marine plastic print by Mandy Barker speaks volumes.

Is this IKEA facing the responsibility for the impact of it’s products through it’s prints? Who knows.

But if this marine plastic print raises more of an awareness of this huge global issue, then that can only be good. We may even get one ourselves for the studio.

(images and video by IKEA)

the Plastic Bottle Cutter – another way to reuse plastic bottles…

We have been rather involved in all things plastic recently, from our Ghost Gear Chandelier for the World Cetacean Alliance to specifying recycled plastic cladding in both a residential project and cafe project in the last month. We are keen to use recycled or recovered plastic in our projects, so it was great when we were given the tip off (thank you Pollie) on this brilliant Plastic Bottle Cutter which is currently gaining backing on Kickstarter…

Plastic Bottle Cutter 1

Created very simply, the Plastic Bottle Cutter is a tool to allow the continuous ‘shredding’ of a plastic bottle into as long a ‘thread’ as possible. You can even vary the thickness of the new plastic thread to suit your own project requirements.Plastic Bottle Cutter 2

We have seen a couple of people with their own diy versions of this sort of tool, but it is the first time that we have ever seen an actual, purpose created tool that everyone can purchase.

Plastic Bottle Cutter 3So, what can you actually do with a long length of plastic thread?

Well, you can knot it, weave it or even (as we have seen previously) wind it around a joint and melt it together. This may seem rather destructive, but as you are not adding anything into the plastic, then when your item is finished with, despite being melted, it can be cut off and recycled.Plastic Bottle Cutter 4

It would be great to see someone create a tool like this that can be used to transform waste plastic into a kind of filament for a 3D printer…

So – fancy a plastic bottle cutter? Get over to Kickstarter, where the Plastic Bottle Cutter project has already smashed it’s target of 8,000 euros, (as I write, it is at 117,000 euros). A nice little addition to our studio’s hack kit we reckon. Check out their video below for more info.

(images via the Plastic Bottle cutter Kickstarter)

the New Plastics Economy – rethinking the future of plastics…

Plastic has become quite an obsession for us over the last year or so – especially the issues with marine litter and the scary abundance of single use plastics entering our waste streams. This is one of the reasons why we have become involved with the World Cetacean Alliance ‘Untangled’ Project, which involves designers and artists creating new pieces from fishing gear rescued from beaches around the country. Of course, as plastic based products, these pieces of netting and fishing gear – known as Ghost Gear – float about, photodegrading over time into smaller pieces and eventually ending up in the food chain as small fish eat the plastic and larger fishes eat the smaller fishes.

And this is true of all plastics that are in our oceans – not only Ghost Gear. Every piece of litter in our oceans that is plastic based will gradually degrade and be eaten – killing vast numbers of fish and mammals in the process. We have not even started to realise the issues that plastic causes to our own bodies, as we ingest fish that have eaten (and stored toxins from the plastic) in their own bodies.

Plastics are a huge, global issue, that are not going away. Yet, plastics that have become ubiquitous with our throwaway culture are actually valuable and essential materials. 

So, it was great to see that the circular economy specialists, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation publish a report on the issues with plastic, and how the whole industry could be transformed if we worked in a more circular nature. This makes perfect sense – our production of plastic has increased 20x over the last 50 years and is only set to increase, whilst plastic itself is a perfect material for reuse – so long as it is recovered, and not leaked into our oceans.

This ‘leakage’ of plastics from the waste stream into our oceans is currently estimated at being a staggering 32%. If we rethink ocean plastic as a resource for recovery and of value, rather than of waste, then we could go a long way.

And something needs to be done – as the projections are that if we continue with the business as usual model with plastics, there will be more plastic in our oceans and seas than there are fish, by weight, by 2050.

That’s a scary thought indeed…

This report demonstrates the importance of triggering a revolution in the plastics industrial ecosystem and is a first step to showing how to transform the way plastics move through our economy. To move from insight to large scale action, it is clear that no one actor can work on this alone; the public, private sector and civil society all need to mobilize in order to capture the opportunity of the new circular plastics economy. – Dominic Waughray / World Economic Forum

Want to read more? You can download the full report here. 

(images courtesy of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation)

SPOTTED – recycled fishing net sunglasses by Bureo Skateboards…

You know how you start doing something, then suddenly see loads of people doing it too? That has certainly been happening recently, as we have extended our research into marine litter and the possibilities of recycling the waste into new products. Last week, we dedicated all three of our blog posts to the issues of marine waste, and we had to share another great product find we happened upon this week too – the new range of recycled fishing net sunglasses by Bureo Skateboards.

Founded in Chile, Bureo Skateboards create new boards from discarded, end of life nets collected from fishermen in the countries first ever net recycling program. To date, the Net Positiva 45600 square feet of nets that could otherwise have been sent to landfill or discarded overboard. Minnow Complete Cruiser Skateboard

The resulting product is the Minnow – a recycled plastic skateboard that has grip ridges like fish scales, but the program has also linked up with other coastal campaigns to support ocean clean-up, showing their commitment to the cause.

But not satisfied with skateboards, Bureo is currently in the thick of a new Kickstarter campaign to launch their latest recycled net product – 100% recycled plastic sunglasses.

The Newen

Created using the same reclaimed and recycled fishing nets in the Net Positiva scheme, the range of sunglasses, which are a collaborative project with eyewear brand Karun, will come in three frame shapes and two lens colours has just reached it’s target of $30,000, over two weeks ahead of schedule.

The three frames in The Ocean Collection are all slightly different, suited to both male and female face shapes – with each being inspired by a species of whale, continuing the link with ocean conservation within the products.

We really like these glasses. Yes, they are plastic, but the reasoning behind their material selection is well founded and based in responsible, reclaimed plastic rather than virgin materials. As we explored last week, unless it has been incinerated, every piece of plastic we have ever created is still on our lands and in our oceans, so we are firmly behind projects that look to reclaim this plastic and put it back in use. Plus, if your glasses reach the end of their life, Bureo will take them back and reprocess them – this circularity is what is needed with our products, not the single life we have come to know.

Want to know more? Look at their Kickstarter here – and check out their video below…

(images via Bureo Kickstarter)

Reclaimed ocean plastic is the material of the moment…

So – for two of our posts this week we have looked at the Project Ocean exhibition currently at Selfridges – and we thought we would continue with this theme with a look at two of the recent releases by big brands that highlight the ocean plastic plight.

Adidas x Parley recycled ocean waste sneaker

First up is the recent concept shoe by Adidas and British designer Alexander Taylor – the Adidas x Parley, revealed at an event for the Parley for the Oceans initiative, which encourages creatives to repurpose ocean waste for awareness design.

The shoe, which is hoped to go into production in 2016 uses fibres created from nets recovered from illegal poaching vessels by marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd. As well as the material, the design of the shoe also references the waves of the nets in its patternation.

Adidas x Parley recycled ocean waste sneaker

What is key is that Taylor and Adidas were able to create the concept shoe using the same machinery and methods that a ‘regular’ shoe is manufactured. Many of the arguments around using recycled yarns and materials centre around the misconception that there has to be massive manufacturing alterations to create form ‘waste’, so this move from Adidas shows this does not need to be the case.

Whilst Adidas are keen to promote this as a ‘concept’ shoe, we hope that this does not remain on the concept shelf and actually goes into production. Sceptics could argue that this, excuse the pun, is but a drop in the ocean when it comes to both reclaiming ocean plastic and creating new design from a waste material. Plus, given the size of Adidas it could be seen as a little bit greenwashy, but hey – shouldn’t this be the exact behaviour we should be encouraging big brands to undertake? Isn’t this better than the alternative of creating from virgin materials?

The Adidas x Parley concept is certainly a step in the right direction, but there are already brands who are creating fashion to purchase, using yarns made from plastic waste.

Pharrell Williams for G-Star RAW AW 2015

G-Star RAW has recently revealed it’s third collaborative collection with Pharrell Williams which uses ocean plastic fibres mixed with other materials. The RAW for the Oceans collection features the tag line ‘turning the tide on plastic ocean pollution’ and features jumpers, t-shirts, jackets and jeans.

Pharrell Williams for G-Star RAW AW 2015

It is reported that 700,000 PET bottles have been removed from the ocean to go into the production of the RAW for the oceans collections so far, which is not a considerable amount of plastic recovered. Again, a tiny fraction, but as the old saying goes – better out than in.

Pharrell Williams for G-Star RAW AW 2015

But the most interesting element for us is the psychology that goes with these collections – by creating something from a waste material, there is a point you have to cross in customers’ minds – where does ‘rubbish’ end and ‘luxury’ begin? Big brands certainly have the scale and opportunity to create a real attitude change, and it is interesting to understand whether people purchase these goods because they are fashionable and ‘on trend’, or whether they purchase them because they are made from an ‘ethical’ material. Where does the buy in happen? Also, what happens to these garments when they reach the end of their life – have they been designed for circularity?

Something, we no doubt will explore…

(images via Dezeen)