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I went along to one of the RCA Sustain talks yesterday ‘Designing out waste’ and left feeling truly inspired!

RCA graduate Alkesh Parmar kicked the evening off with a great presentation of his award winning MA project ‘Apeel’ which turned inedible food waste into a new material!

‘Apeel’ is based on the wonderful design concept of ‘cradle to cradle’ – that there is no waste produced (whereas traditional product design is referred to as ‘cradle to grave’ – it is accepted that there is an end to a products life).

Alkesh collected orange peel from friends, family and also industry, he dried the orange peel, then blended it up and added a natural binder to form a workable material. The tools that he used were reused items that he modified according to his needs.

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When I see discarded umbrellas in bins or left on the street, I always think what can I do with them?! and should I rescue them from abandonment?! I have had to resist the urge to collect them all up (I am a self-confessed hoarder) and store them until I can do something useful with them.

broken umbrella by cormac70

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When browsing the internet I discovered Phoenix-based Upcycle Living, who design and build prefabricated living and work spaces. They take used shipping containers and transform them into high quality, affordable, green buildings.

The containers can be designed for residential, commercial/ industrial and emergency relief use.

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When walking along the Southbank over the weekend, I came across an exhibit from Southbank Mosaics displayed in a beach hut part of the Southbank Centre. On display were some lovely mosaics of all different sizes and themes. I particularly loved this one of the Thames.


This got me thinking about producing a mosaic made purely from reclaimed materials.

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My friend  Sam sent me a link to this cool American artist Boris Bally who upcycles street signs into furniture.

Here is one awesome example (though not sure how comfortable it would be):

They are really colourful and no two would be exactly the same!

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On Saturday afternoon I went to the British Museum to have a general peruse and also to see the ‘Baskets and Belongings’ exhibition, part of the Australian season, which was great.

This exhibition features a selection of around 60 Indigenous Australian containers from the British Museum’s unparalleled collection, including unique objects, not replicated anywhere else in the world.

I came across a ghost net basket and thought would be great to share on here:

Ghost nets are fishing nets which are accidentally lost, abandoned, or discarded at sea and cause marine life serious damage. It is a devastating problem  for the otherwise pristine coastline mainly owned and occupied by Indigenous communities.

Ghost net baskets are made from weaving reclaimed ghost nets into baskets. The reason why this is so important is that it highlights the damage that these discarded nets do and produces something extremely useful for indigenous peoples.

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Current methods to help people live sustainably are not enough for a fairer and healthier society that lives within environmental limits. Sustainable Lifestyles aims to present a framework for developing, testing and sharing new approaches to lasting positive change.

 The initial starting points for Sustainable Lifestyles are:

  • valuing society and the environment
  • wasting less and living more
  • collective change
  • collaboration and partnership

This is a collaborative programme that needs like-minded partners, practitioners and individuals to increase its impact, reach and call for change. Join in and share discussions in any of the groups you wish. Feel free to also introduce yourself and share you ideas, work, video or blogs. The first key discussion paper is called working from values.

A collaborative community learning, sharing and exploring new approaches towards sustainable lifestyles.

Check it out!

This Vintage Fair is going to be held at the Southbank Centre, London 29-31 July 2011 and looks like it will be awesome!

There will be an Upcycled Market which will have stalls selling items made from vintage and reclaimed materials.

Hope to see you there!

We went to Clerkenwell Design Week 2011 and discovered DesignMarketo, a platform showcasing up-and-coming designers’ small and limited productions. One of these designers’ on display was items from User Development Organisation, an open and multidisciplinary collective, interested in sociology, from supermarket tourism to Google image search and public behaviour. Its production ranges from publications, prints and illustrations to videos, products and public interventions.

One of their very special projects is simple: to upcycle old, unwanted, mismatched decorated cutlery and drinking glasses by coating the handle with a thin rubber layer, so that the decoration shows through. By doing this, and by using the same rubber colour, the pieces match, creating a new set.

Upcycled cutlery

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My good friend and fellow upcycyle collective and irippleidance blogger Michelle has sent me some ideas for upcycling corks as she knows I have quite a lot of them and am in the process of upcycling them into cork placemats.

Here goes…

No. 1 – Upcycled cork bathmat

This looks really cool and is mega practical. However, I would have reservations about using this as a bathmat as would worry it would go mouldy, even if using a sealant. Instead I would use it as a doormat – it would look so welcoming and would be a great talking point! …possibly leading to questions about my drinking habits.

Looking down on this mat would make me smile lots:)

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