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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(images via McNair shirts)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 11 – recycled bouncy castle tote bag from SAS

We are big fans of giving gifts that are useful, and that promote a bit of positive behaviour change. When the 5p plastic bag levy was introduced in October 2105, many people moaned that they would just not be able to remember a reusable bag, but fast forward to July 2016 – just six months in, and single use plastic bag use dropped 85% in the UK. That is quite staggering. So if we are all taking our reusable bags to the shops most of the time, a gift of a reusable bag that is a little different from the norm could be a perfect option. It’s day 11 on our Eco Gift Guide and we have selected the Bouncy Castle Tote Bag from Surfers Against Sewage…

Made on the Isle of Wight by designers Wyatt and Jack, co-branded with an SAS logo and the ‘Break the Bag Habit’ tagline, these fantastic, strong tote bags are made from actual bouncy castles that have been retired from use.

Available in 7 different colours, the tote bags feature strong black webbing handles and measure a very useful 35cm x 35cm. Plus, by the nature of the material, the bag has a waterproof outer, so is perfect for sitting on the floor or using as a kit bag.

We love these bags as they use materials that have a great nostalgic link, and make advantage of their strength, colour, waterproof nature and hard wearing qualities. They will last a very long time!

Plus, these bags are a great choice if you need to post a gift to someone – flat, unbreakable and very useful…

Get yours for £12 a piece through the Surfers Against Sewage shop here.

(images via SAS)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 1 – Patagonia Powder Town Beanie

Well, where has this year gone? It seems like only yesterday that we were putting together our Eco Gift Guide for last Christmas… But, here we are – pinch punch – on the 1st December already. So – looking for an eco gift, an ethical gift or a sustainable seasonal present for a loved one? Stay tuned for the next 24 days as we open the doors on 24 things that we would be delighted to find in our stockings this year. There will be stuff for all budgets and tastes, with all things made with love by nice people…

So – for day 1 on our Eco Gift Guide we have… a Patagonia Powder Town Silver Birch Beanie.


With the temperature plummeting in the UK, we have been digging out our hats over the last few days, but if you know someone who is in need of a new woolly to keep their head toasty, this is a rather nice one indeed.

As many of you will know, we are huge fans of Patagonia here in the studio – not only for their well made clothing, but for their material choices and dedication to longevity and repair. Plus their recent drive for Black Friday saw them increase their usual 1% For The Planet contributions to 100% for the whole day – resulting in a staggering $10 million being spread by Patagonia amongst grass roots environmental charities. Wow. 

This lovely Powder Town Beanie is made from recycled polyester with a bit of elastane for a comfortable stretch, in the classic white and grey that will suit everyone. A bobble for a bit of fun, a cosy head and a great company to support.

Get yours now from Surfdome in the UK, where you can pick it up for a very reasonable £25.59 + P+P. check it out here.

(image via Surfdome)

our Brighton Architectural Notebooks are now in Homage!

Yes – that is right! You can now find our Brighton Architectural notebooks in the beautiful home store, Homage, in the Seven Dials area of Brighton.


Packed up in mixed threes, you can get a set of A6 notebooks made from 100% recycled paper, printed in Sussex with images of iconic pieces of Brighton Architecture – the Pavilion, the Palace Pier and our beloved West Pier.

Image result for homage brighton

And check out the beautiful pieces they have in the store – from hand thrown utilitarian ceramic mugs to wide toothed combs, scented candles and hanging glass planters. We are delighted to be in such a lovely store. Go and say hi to Mark and Liza at Homage and check them out in their online store – 

(images by claire potter and homage)

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.


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.


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.

( / 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 – reclaimed vinyl banner products by Vaho…

Last weekend, when the UK was imploding from the shock of Brexit, we were very pleased to be elsewhere – watching the events unfold from the sunny climes of Barcelona. And whilst we were there, we found a stack of innovative companies who are channelling the cities waste into new products. First up is Vaho, who use reclaimed vinyl banners as their base material.

In a similar way to Swiss company Freitag, who convert truck tarps into new accessories, Barcelona based Vaho take the advertising banners that proliferate through the vast city and convert them into bags, wallets, belts and cases – with each one being unique. Their tag line of ‘Trashion Bags handmade in Barcelona’ says it all.

Of course, the key factors of the vinyl banners are durability (strength and waterproofness) with the ability to print good images on the material, but despite their ephemeral nature when used for advertising a date specific event, they are notoriously hard to recycle. With metal eyelets and other co-mingled materials, the banners are often consigned to landfill.

But the bright colours they have, combined with their durability make them perfect for use in every day accessories. You don’t want your stuff getting wet, after all.

So it was with delight that we spotted a Vaho outlet store tucked away in the gothic quarter of Barcelona.

Vaho wallet 1

The first dilemma was to choose the shape we fancied – with a number of different configurations, zips, pockets and sizes available, the large array of accessories was mind boggling. And once you had chosen your model, you then had to choose your colour combination…

Some were quite plain, some had text, some referenced Barcelona landmarks and events, some were completely abstract. It took ages.

vaho wallet 2

But really, this is part of the charm. It was great to find a product that we could take home as a memento of our visit that was not only useful, but was made by hand in the city directly from the waste material generated advertising things to tourists like us. A sort of self fulfilling product purchase, but hey. We know this wallet will last for a very, very long time.

(images by claire potter and Vaho)

the new Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium opens…

We are really lucky to live and work in Brighton. We have the sea on one side, the South Downs on the other and the city filling is a mass of creativity and inspiration with some fantastic individuals and organisations doing some brilliant work. One such example, and long standing friend of the studio is Emmaus Brighton and Hove.

Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium 4

Based in the former convent in the Portslade Old Village area of the city, Emmaus Brighton and Hove is the largest Emmaus community in the UK, functioning as a secondhand superstore, cafe, garden shop and so much more – with each former homeless companion living and working on the site in some capacity. It is helping hand – a family – and a wonderful place to visit.

Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium 5

We are always at Emmaus – finding pieces for our projects and clients in the vast rambling areas of the stores, having a cuppa or chatting with the staff and companions. So, it was with delight that we were invited to the special preview of the new Emmaus Emporium…

Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium 3

Situated in a newly refurbished part of the old convent laundry building, the Emporium is the destination for all the donated pieces which are a bit special – vintage, retro and antique. And the space is just fantastic.

The two main display pieces have been created by Simon Bottrell of 7 Creative, who has arranged the donated pieces of furniture in an incredible tower and wall piece of stacked tables, chests and shelves. With multiple display opportunities, the pale grey painted main ‘frames’ are able to accommodate the continually fluctuating donations whilst still remaining interesting and exciting – essential for any space. And the detailing is lovely – legs that appear to punch through tops of tables set below, items that float and even melt into the back wall…

Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium 2

Other display pieces use old ladders, repurposed counters and even a selection of upside down standard lamps – hanging from the centre of the space to give real impact to the room.

It is so fantastic to see the energy behind each of the projects that Emmaus Brighton and Hove creates – constantly staying one step ahead of what you would dream a ‘charity shop’ could be. The Emporium is the latest addition to the collection of shops at Emmaus Brighton and Hove – and a real feather in their secondhand caps.

Emmaus Brighton and Hove Emporium 1

Visit Emmaus Brighton and Hove’s website to find out more and how to get there… You will not be disappointed – we can guarantee that.

(image by claire potter design)

The Untangled Project for the World Cetacean Alliance… pt2

Earlier this week we introduced the Untangled Project we are currently working on for the World Cetacean Alliance – taking washed up fishing netting known as ‘ghost gear’ from the beaches of the UK and highlighting this as a global issue by creating something from the waste. As part of a troop of designers and artists, each piece that is currently being created will be first exhibited in London, before being auctioned off, raising funds for the World Cetacean Alliance.World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear 8

And today, we can officially reveal glimpses of what we are designing and making… the Ghost Gear Chandelier.

claire potter design World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear concept detail

We started by looking at the hunting behaviour of the whale given to us in our brief – the Humpback – and we discovered that some groups have learnt to collaboratively hunt using a technique called ‘bubble netting’. This highly developed form of hunting requires each whale to play their part – first, one individual locates the shoal of fish and swims beneath them, circling them from below whilst blowing bubbles and surrounding them with a confusing ‘net’ of bubbling water. The fish get disorientated by these bubbles and bundle together, allowing the group of whales who have been communicating by song to rise from the deep together and scoop the fish into their mouths. We became fascinated by this as a behaviour.

claire potter  design World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear conceptSo, taking the concept from the ghost gear baubles we created at Christmas, we are scaling up the design to create a large (and we are not sure exactly how large yet) chandelier, made from clear bubbles filled with cleaned, shredded and colour coded ghost gear netting… and whilst this concept is linked to the undeniably beautiful bubble netting behaviour of some humpbacks, the fact that ghost netting is regularly eaten by mistake cannot be ignored.World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear 7 We are hoping that this light will talk about both humpbacks and ghost netting on many levels.

World Cetacean Alliance ghost gear 6

Watch this space for more info on the Ghost Gear Chandelier, as we start to mock up the design in the next week, and don’t forget to head to the Creations for Cetaceans Facebook page that has been set up by the World Cetacean Alliance and will be showcasing the other projects as they develop…

(photos by claire potter)

Our green gift guide – day two – prints and printed stuff…

We are properly in the countdown to Christmas now, and whilst we are firmly in the camp of reducing our global consumption, we know that we will all be buying stuff for the people we know and love to open on the 25th. So today we are posting the second of our Green Gift Guide posts to help you through the myriad choices to the greenest, most ethical, most sustainable gifts which look awesome, do awesome stuff and do not look like they’ve been crafted by a hippy in a hairshirt.

Welcome to day two – prints, paper and printed stuff…

decompositon book

1 – a Decomposition Book – made from 100% post consumer waste, these cracking notebooks come in a variety of sizes and with a dizzying array of covers to suit literally everyone. Of course, we opted for the green dinosaurs, but take your pick from flowers to graphic patterns. Available readily online, these are also available at your local Waterstones (UK) and start at £3.50 ish. Great stocking fillers.

Typography Print, Typographic Art, Type Poster, Graphic Design Print, Typography Screenprint, Quote Print, It Takes All Types in Black

2 – ‘It Takes All Types’ screenprint by Hello Dodo – we were delighted to have the lovely Jam and Ali from Hello Dodo at Studio Loo for our recent Christmas Artists Open Houses in Brighton, showcasing their stunning handcrafted screenprints. With witty phrases and a range of colours, Hello Dodo stuff is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. With our love of type, we love this one… £25 plus shipping (get an order in quick for guaranteed delivery before Christmas though)

Alphabet of Endangered Species

3 – Alphabet of Endangered Species in the British Isles print – when was the last time you saw an Undulate Ray or a Zonate Tooth Fungi? Well, ok, but what about a Thrush, or a Hare? This A-Z of Endangered Species is not only educational, it is beautifully illustrated and printed on recycled paper. Available for £15 from Present and Correct


4 – Limited Edition Botanical Bundle Subscription to Ernest Journal – for a long time many were declaring that ‘print was dead’, and as fervent devotees of the form, we are delighted that more independent publications than ever are springing up. One of our favourite is Ernest Journal – with beautiful imagery and eclectic stories, this is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea on a drab day. It celebrates beautifully our stunning world and slow journalism. And at the moment, you can do a gift bundle with 2 or 3 copies of Ernest and a selection of gifts from the fantastic online store What you Sow. But there are only 10 of these bundles available, so get in quick! from £25 plus shipping 

5 – A5 Fair Trade Soft Leather notebook – Gorgeous fair trade leather bound journal with smooth handmade recycled cotton pages. With a wrap-around tie to keep all your inserts secure, this notebook is perfect for travelling and sketching. Soft, supple chocolate leather cover, a by-product, is dyed with natural vegetable dyes – a perfect gift that will age beautifully! Now £15.99 from Nigels Eco Store. 

That’s it for day one – stay tuned for tomorrows Green Gift Guide – stuff you can wear…

(all images via associated websites)

*** REVIEW *** Brighton Fashion Week 2015 – pt4 – Sustain Show…

For the last of our photo specials for Brighton Fashion Week 2015, we are heading to the images we took at the first of the catwalk shows held at All Saint’s Church in Hove last week – the Sustain Show…

‘Clothing is a physical representation of our inner being; creativity, imagination, fantasies, desires, mentality and our ethics. Fashion is a second skin, one we shed daily and that remains malleable to our ever-changing sensibilities. Fashion should not be harmful in any way, nor irrelevant. Sustainability is key, and ethical garments can represent this beauty powerfully. Our ‘sustain’ show promotes sustainability through the showcasing of designers and practitioners that are willing to combine innovative fashion design and ethical thinking to produce unique and efficient collections. Brighton is a city that overflows with morality and strong ethical values, making it an ideal location for ‘sustain’ to premier. ‘Sustain’ will unveil collections designed to test the boundaries of sustainable fashion as we know it; expressing the personality of the city and its people.’

Angus Tsui…

Angus Tsui 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Angus Tsui BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Angus Tsui 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Clare Poggio… (powered by Veolia)

Clare Poggio 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Clare Poggio 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Clare Poggio BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

KellyDawn Riot…KellyDawn Riot BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Kitty Ferreira…

Kitty Ferreira BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot


Milkweed BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotMilkweed 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot


Raggedy 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Raggedy BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Rhiannon Hunt…

Rhiannon Hunt BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotRhiannon Hunt 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Tiffany Pattinson… Tiffany Pattinson 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotTiffany Pattinson BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot(all images by Claire Potter)

*** REVIEW *** Brighton Fashion Week 2015 part 2… Zeitgeist Catwalk Show

Last week we were at each of the catwalk shows for the Brighton Fashion Week 2015, showing the cutting edge of ethical and sustainable fashion design, so for the next of our photo specials, we are looking at the Zeitgeist show. This showcased designers who are shaping, shifting and progressing the fashion industry by starting to integrate ethical practices within their work in a range of ways, organised as ‘pledges’:

1 – The inclusion of organic, upcycled, recycled fabrics or other sustainable materials in the garments and collection.

2 – Designing out waste and reducing material consumption during the making of the garment.

3 – Designing for longevity – creating value for the garment to ensure the consumer will treasure it forever.

4 – Designing garments with a lower carbon and water footprint and ensuring no harmful dyes are used in the process.

Fanny Holst – Draped in Smog (pledge 3)

Fanny Holst BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Gabriella Sardena – Sugar (pledge 1)

Gabriella Sardena 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Gabriella Sardena 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Gabriella Sardena 4 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Gabriella Sardena BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Isaac Iva – Blue Lights (pledge 3)

Isaac Ava BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Tracey Dockree – Parade of Giants (pledges 1/2/3)

Tracey Dockree 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Tracey Dockree 4 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Tracey Dockree 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Isaac Raymond – The Revolution of Bravery (pledge 1)

Isaac Raymond 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Isaac Raymond BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot Isaac Raymond 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Leif Erikkson – The Leif Erikkson Collection (pledges 1/3/4)

leif Erikson BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot leif Erikson 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

No Such Thing – (pledges 1/3/4)

No such Thing 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotNo such Thing 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotNo such Thing BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospotLuqman – (pledge 3)

Luqman BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

L.O.M. – Tribal Tales (pledge 1)

LOM 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot LOM 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot LOM 4 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot LOM BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 the ecospot

Rozanna Walecki – Black & Blue (pledge 3)

Rozanna Walecki 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 Rozanna Walecki 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 Rozanna Walecki BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015

Hellavagirl – Diary of a Lost Girl (pledge 1)

Hellavagirl 2 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 Hellavagirl 3 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 Hellavagirl 4 BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015 Hellavagirl BFW copyright Claire Potter 2015

(all images by Claire Potter)


A day at The Great Recovery, with Camira, Ella Doran and Urban Upholsterers…

Quite often, it is the things that go unnoticed that have the biggest impact. Take fire labels for instance. They are a small part of a chair, or sofa, yet without these little pieces of legislative fabric, the whole piece of furniture cannot be reused. And even though they do seem small, they are often cut off as they flap about under cushions. We like things neat, so the flappy bit goes – and many of us do not realise that this then consigns our furniture to landfill at the end of its life. This is the baton that The Great Recovery have taken up over the past year or so in their ‘Rearranging the Furniture’ project. What does a circular economy sofa look like?

The great recovery sofa 4

Starting with one such fire label-less sofa, four designers (Ella Doran, Xenia Mosely, Kirsty Ewing and Sarah Johnson) set out to rethink the sofa – initially by taking it apart, learning the differences in construction between a cheap and quality piece of furniture, then developing a fabric with Camira to cover the stripped back, refurbished frame – over the process of about a year.

And so, to celebrate the end of the project, The Great Recovery held a day as part of the London Design Festival, looking at the project and with demonstrations from the designers and practitioners who took part.

The great recovery sofa 3

Patrizia Sottile and Andrea Simonutti – of Urban Upholstery are no strangers to reuse, as their pieces use rescued frames which are brought back to life with traditional methods, and the first part of the session was dedicated to a demonstration of how to refurbish a sprung chair, which itself had been recovered for a new life.

The great recovery sofa 2

Springs were connected with string, meshed together in a pattern that will be both strong and flexible, then covered with hessian, stitched, then covered again with coconut fibres. This is a craft – hand created and little altered in centuries. And, as the Urban Upholsterers explained, allows a piece to be reused, recovered, refurbished and repaired – unlike the cheap and mass produced pieces that we can pick up from chain furniture stores. Cheap construction means that recovery and reuse is often impossible.

The great recovery sofa 1

We also got to see the recovered sofa from the ‘Rearranging the Furniture’ project up close – and as well as the beautiful exposed frame, the fabric was something to behold.

The great recovery sofa 5

Created by British fabric manufacturer, Camira, in collaboration with The Great Recovery, the ‘Survivor’ fabric was developed to use as much pre-consumer fabric waste as possible. The new weave, created with 30% recycled fibres, uses offcuts from the upholstery industry – recovered, shredded and woven into a new, tweed like fabric.

The great recovery sofa 6

And whilst 30% recycled yarn does not sound like a lot, it is actually quite groundbreaking. Each time a fabric is recycled, the yarn shortens, making it unusable in a new fabric – it literally is not strong enough. However, if it is mixed with some virgin yarns, a natural recycled fabric is possible. The Survivor fabric is just that – and will soon be available to specifiers.

On the day, we were able to use the beautiful fabric to create our own cushions, in any variety of the three colourways – blue, red, or violet. Plumping (excuse the pun) for blue and red, each of our cushions was stuffed with recycled (post-consumer) yarn and finished with more traditional skills – we each learnt the ‘invisible stitch’, allowing us to close our cushions with no stitching visible.The great recovery sofa 7

The day concluded with a round table discussion between many of the partners involved in The Great Recovery, with representatives from Suez recycling, Surrey Reuse network, Surrey County Council as well as the designers themselves. Quite often the discussion was around connections – how can we ensure that bulky waste, such as sofas are directed to those who need them / want them? How can we encourage reuse and of course, how can we ensure that these pieces are not consigned to landfill or incineration as they are no longer sporting their fire labels…?

More thought early on in the design process is often the answer, or at least part of the answer. And my cushion? It got its first test on the train back to Brighton from London Bridge, as surprisingly, there were no free seats. Lucky I’d just made one.

(images by claire potter)

Zero Waste Week starts here…

Welcome to Zero Waste Week – the annual drive both in the UK and further afield to get us all – individuals, businesses and local authorities alike to consider the stuff we chuck ‘away’. But we know that the magic place is actually not ‘away’ at all, but our creaking landfills or worse, out to sea where it degrades and is eaten by fish and other mammals. 

Plus, this year, the focus is on Reuse – a subject very close to our hearts, so for the rest of this week, we will be looking at great projects that can help you to reuse stuff, or are even made of waste themselves…

And there are plenty of ways to get involved with Zero Waste Week – why not try a few of these challenges:

  • only buy secondhand for the week (apart from food, obviously)
  • completely delete new plastic use for a day (harder than you think…)
  • purchase one thing that is made from a ‘waste’ material, for yourself, or for someone’s Christmas present.
  • don’t buy any bottled water, but use a refillable water bottle instead (make this a permanent habit if you can)
  • sign up to Freegle.

Plus, if you are looking for another way to reuse or recycle your stuff, you can also sign up to the first UK Garage Sale Trail later this month as a seller, or take a wander around and buy stuff you need that other people do not. It’s that simple.

(we are having a sale at Studio Loo too – loads of design journals, salvage, books and cake – see details here)

Reuse – it’s our only way forward.

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)