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’.

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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…)

*** 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

 

It’s the Surfers Against Sewage Autumn Beach Clean Series 2016!

It’s finally here! From 24th – 30th October, at beaches all across the UK, the Surfers Against Sewage Autumn Beach Clean Series will be mobilising thousands of volunteers at over 250 venues to clean up the scourge that is marine litter – and particularly plastic, which remains in the environment indefinitely…

Here in Brighton and Hove, we have a fantastic 5 cleans taking place, starting on Saturday 22nd October and running till Sunday 30th October, with a huge bumper beach clean and party courtesy of the English Disco Lovers at Hove Lawns.

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As Claire is one of three new volunteer Regional Reps for SAS in Brighton and Hove, we will be running the beach clean on Monday 24th October from 12-3pm, starting at the beach behind the King Alfred in Hove.

So – come along! Pop in for 10 minutes or three hours – whatever you can manage, and help on a beach clean to spread the word about marine litter. And if you’re not in the Brighton and Hove area do not despair – check the main Surfers Against Sewage Events page to find a clean near you…

(images by claire potter, SAS and Creative Bloom)

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 – marine litter artworks by Ella Robinson…

Last week, we headed up to the London Design Festival to have a general ferret about, catch up with people, meet new people and find interesting circular economy based design. This week, we will be featuring some of our favourite finds from the festival, starting today at the London Design Fair with the marine litter artworks of Ella Robinson…

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Well, it was inevitable wasn’t it? Given the studio focus on marine litter and all things plastic, it was no great surprise that we came across the beautiful work of Ella Robinson in the British Craft Pavilion. Hailing from Brighton originally, Ella works with constructed / multi media textiles and has a specialism in found objects.

Bright and vibrant, the pieces, which juxtaposed clean white frames or found driftwood with synthetic plastics, stood out brilliantly. Arranged by size, shape or colour, the pieces featured artefacts that had been beachcombed from around the UK – from the plastics to the driftwoods, which were paired with eye poppingly bright plastic ‘threads’.

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Smaller pieces featured embroidery and logos and were certainly beautiful, but it was the larger, marine litter based pieces which grabbed our attention. Unsurprisingly. *ahem*

check out Ella’s website for more information, and to purchase her work.

(images by claire potter)

France to ban all single use plastics by 2020…

Last week there was rather a large announcement in the world of plastics. France is to ban all single use plastics such as cups, plates and cutlery by 2020, and is the first country in the world to do so. Retailers and suppliers will have from now until the 2020 deadline to rethink their single use plastic lines to ensure that anything labelled as ‘disposable’ can be composted in a domestic setting (and not just in the higher temperatures of a municipal composting setting).

Black Fork 1

Now, this is pretty huge news. First off, this is not that far in the future. Just three years. Plus, it appears to be relatively solid with few, if any immediate loopholes. We are sure that some manufacturers will try to find the wriggle room however… (just like The Card Factory in the UK, who cut the handles off their plastic bags, turning them into ‘sacks’ to avoid the 5p plastic bag charge…) So it is no surprise that the packaging industry in France has already claimed that this new ban infringes European free trade laws.

But like many drives, this is not without it’s flaws. Whilst removing single use plastics such as cutlery and cups from the market, even using biodegradable alternatives have their drawbacks. The land use that is required to make the base materials of biodegradable plastics such as maize is considerable, and there are also reports of how these ‘degradable’ materials do not break down properly in other settings, such as the ocean.

So what is the answer? Using reusables is certainly the way forward – the ‘zero waste’ movement has been gaining more momentum over the past few years as people recognise that any waste – be it plastic or otherwise – could, and should be avoided. Taking a spork, or small cutlery set is the way forward, yet this means a considerable behaviour change from the on-the-run convenience food that we have become accustomed to.

Yet nothing happens unless you start, so France – we applaud you – and hope that other countries follow in your plastic free wake…

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)

***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)

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.

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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)

***EVENT*** March of the Mermaids – Hove Lawns Sat 23 July 2016…

Come and say hello! All of today we will be with the World Cetacean Alliance at their fundraising March of the Mermaids event on Hove Lawns talking about our research into marine litter and ghost fishing gear and showing you what you can do with it…

With the help of a lovely troop of interns from the World Cetacean Alliance, we will be transforming recovered fishing netting into a variety of jewellery pieces for sale throughout the day, as well as running workshops showing you how to make your own.

We look forward to seeing you!

https://www.facebook.com/mermaids.march?platform=hootsuite 

(image by claire potter design)

SPOTTED – plastic bag landscapes by Vilde Rolfsen…

Once upon a time, many moons ago, the mountains were my home. For a whole winter season I was in awe of the vast natural landscape, how many colours snow actually can be (hint – not just white) and how quickly the environment can change. Because of this, images of mountains have a special place in my heart and mind – and the images from Vilde Rolfsen stirred something in me. Except these gorgeous landscapes are not natural at all: if anything they are the complete opposite. They are made from plastic bags.

Series of photographs created by photographing plastic bags

The irony is not lost. Rolfsen wants us to realise the implications of our decisions, however small, and the impact the scale of these decisions have on our local and wider environment. The ‘Plastic Bag Landscapes’ series are a collection of bittersweet images made from the worst of all discarded synthetic waste – plastic.

Series of photographs created by photographing plastic bags

All picked up whilst in the UK, the plastic bags were cleaned, arranged, lit and coloured in the studio – and made to look like Tolkeinesque landscapes, which are stunning, yet awful, as Rolfsen comments in the series.

“Plastic bags are a huge contributor to the landfill waste and are extremely harmful for our oceans and the creatures living there. Do not say yes to a plastic bag when shopping.”

Series of photographs created by photographing plastic bags

And what is particularly successful about these pieces is that they are genuinely beautiful. The material and subtext certainly isn’t, but creating something that people want to engage with, rather than being immediately repulsed by is a far more powerful thing to do. The message hits home harder when people realise what they are  – and why you have done it. We found this repeatedly when we exhibited our Ghost Gear Chandelier at Clerkenwell Design Week in 2016, made from recovered marine litter.

“When I have exhibited my work, people would come up to me and say, ‘I’ve been looking at this for a while and while it is beautiful I feel disgusted with myself because I now understand what this work is about,’” Rolfsen said in a recent interview with the Huffington Post “I think that sums it up pretty nicely.”

Vilde Rolfsen plastic bags 4

Realisation and subsequent behaviour change can be tricky and even though we now have the plastic bag charge in the UK, there are still multiple places that do not have to impose a charge – or of course, the option of buying another single use plastic bag.

So when you are posed with that situation again, think of the beautifully awful Plastic Bag Landscape series by Vilde Rolfsen and ask yourself – do you want your actions to be part of this?

(images courtesy of Vilde Rolfsen)

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…

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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)

friday photo – every piece of plastic…

Friday photo no5 – every piece of plastic we have every created, unless we have burnt it, is still here…

every piece of plastic

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)

friday photo – more plastic than fish by 2050?

Friday photo no2 – will there be more plastic than fish by 2050?

more plastic than fish by 2050

(image by claire potter design)