Our world is made up of materials. Some are precious and we mine them, polish them, hone and craft with them, design for them and value them. Others are disposable — they are quick to manufacture and often thrown away nearly as fast.
In the UK, we throw away 15 million plastic bottles every day — nearly 300,000 tonnes every year. And, over 50 percent of all plastic produced is single-use and gets thrown away immediately. We see traces of this disposable culture everywhere, embedded in our earth and choking our oceans. And plastic takes 500 years to fully decompose, meaning every bit ever made still exists … somewhere. It is used everywhere and so it also ends up everywhere, in some form or trace.
But what if plastic was precious? What if you could design with it, craft it, shape it into something beautiful and close the loop? It’s an adaptable, malleable and free material that you can pick up of the street. So we did just that …
In January, we worked with Tom Meades to design our seventh programme for the Prince’s Trust — an intensive week-long product design course for under 25s, to help break down the barriers that prevent many amazing young people getting started in the creative industries. Tom works with locally sourced recycled plastic material, exploring how waste plastic can be handcrafted without the use of complex manufacturing methods and turned into valuable products.
Crafting with Plastic Waste invited thirteen young people to work with Tom and turn Makerversity into a plastic sorting, recycling, collecting, shredding, melting, smushing workshop! Making them the product designers, we spent the week looking at sustainable circular design practices and closed-loop manufacturing, and exploring the future of plastics. We asked them to explore solutions to plastic pollution by designing an everyday object or product that reimagines plastic waste into something beautiful, functional or valuable … and … after hearing from Sanne Visser on her recycled human hair rope, Skipping Rocks Lab on their edible water bottle (kelp is amazing!!) and Sean Ross on his recycled plastic products, we felt super ready to make the world a bit nicer too.
Squishing an insane amount into five days, we learned about resins, and collected waste from local shops, pavements and skips (seriously) around Somerset House, sorted them, shredded them, designed on paper, designed in Illustrator, laser-cut moulds, had a crash course with Happenstance workshop on plastic STEW bowl making, melted down our trash and made sheet material with the heat presses, made moulds in the wood workshops, and formed and polished some absolutely beautiful, wonderful products from plastics.
There’s more …
As part of the course, we organise work experience placements with some of our members for the group to apply to after finishing up the course. Check back soon to see what Precious, Joe, Tianna, Sharifa and Yuen-Ying got up to!
Coming up …
We’ve got another course in the works for May, so if you want to join us or know someone else who’d love to, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org