Extreme E in pole position for #PlasticFreeJuly
While it may seem like we’re drowning in a rising tide of plastic waste, there are people with truly game-changing ideas about how to turn this tide. Plastic may persist in our environment for centuries, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put it to better use, in some of the following ways.
Polymateria gives plastic an expiry date with LyfeCycle
At the Ocean X Prix round of Extreme E’s inaugural racing season, there stands a mysterious box by the racer paddocks, sitting on the sand. It is emblazoned with a blue letter Y on the top which wrapped in a circle, much like the @ symbol. This symbol represents more than just the 25th letter of the alphabet: it represents the whole of Generation Y, otherwise known the Millennials; the generation of people born between the 1980s and 1990s, who came of age during the new millennium.
The box in question is a cage with transparent panels, a controlled experiment allowing air to pour in, but keep other environmental factors out. It is slowly filling up with an assortment of Polymateria LyfeCycle plastic cups inside. Throughout the Ocean X Prix, drivers, engineers have been drinking from these cups during the Ocean X Prix, each of which is printed with the phrase: “This cup will self-destruct – RECYCLE BY 2022.” How could plastic possibly be given an expiry date? Learn more about Polymateria’s exciting new LyfeCycle plastic cups in our special feature here.
Stephan Senghor takes Senegal into the EcoZone
Plastic bottles are a scourge in many countries such as Senegal, as the country big importer of plastics from abroad, and the bottles are often the best way for people to quench their thirst, as much of the water that flows from taps can be undrinkable. However, the bottles are only useful for so long before they are discarded. There is a sense of short-term use without much of a chance to consider the long-term consequences.
In a word, EcoZone is like a seed: it started from small beginnings in the mind of a local entrepreneur, Stephan Senghor, but over the last decade or so, it has taken root and spread itself out, touching people all over the local community surrounding Lac Rose, the Pink Lake. Senegal itself is much like a seed: a young country with a young population, eager to learn and find its place in the world. Projects like EcoZone are unlike anything local people will have ever seen before, but they are no mere flash in the pan.
But what is EcoZone, who is Stephan Senghor and why do EcoBriques matter? Learn the answers to these questions and much more, in our piece about the EcoZone project here.
Coral Eyewear – glasses with clear eco-vision
Plastic has a close relationship with eyewear of all shapes and sizes. Millions of Brits wear contact lenses per day, each pair made of a water-friendly plastic, which is sadly non-biodegradable. Glasses, shades and other eyewear suffer from being sourced from non-sustainable means too. Our need to protect our eyes has come into conflict with protecting the planet, it would seem.
To get a better sense of perspective on this subject, we spoke to George Bailey, co-founder of Coral Eyewear. “I founded Coral with my dad”, George explains. A gap was spotted in the market, specifically when it came to sustainably sourced eyewear, leading George and his father to fill that gap with Coral.
To find out more about what gives Coral Eyewear that special eco-vision, check out our piece on their work with Aquafil here.
Plastic gets the top spot in Extreme E trophies
Mariano Piñeyrua is the person to thank for the innovative design of Extreme E’s distinctive winners’ trophies bestowed to the top teams competing in each leg of the inaugural season. He is the runner of a circular start-up based in his home country of Uruguay called Cruz Creative Lab. This business takes the concept of circularity of resources and finds intriguing new ways to incorporate old materials into new shapes, designs and forms entirely.
“We jumped in this project because of the circularity of materials involved in the fabrication,” according to Mariano. “With this design, we are defying status quo of what trophies should look like – in this case, trash becomes a desired object and that is the purpose of our company: design for a better world.”
To see why plastic isn’t just a load of rubbish, but could become something to be prized, read all about how Mariano helped design Extreme E’s winners’ trophies for the inaugural season of races.
Groundtruth packs a punch with eco-bags
The story of Groundtruth begins with three sisters, Georgia, Nina and Sophia Scott. These three sisters spent a decade capturing stories from all over the world as documentary-makers through their own company, Groundtruth Productions. Their work has taken them from Europe to Asia, Africa and the Middle East, giving them insights in the different environments to be found all over the world, and the people who live in them.
The end result is Groundtruth, a ground-breaking business which sources plastic waste including rPET plastic such as bottles and upcycles it to produce the materials which can be woven to make a durable bag. Sophia tells us: “I never had the right backpack so we were always travelling from Congolese jungles, dirty, muddy, and then maybe on a plane straight to New York for a pitching session so we were really looking for a hybrid bag that could take us to both those worlds.
“For the conscious traveller, everyone is looking for something that has been produced in the right way, not just environmentally, but humanely…it really came about with us wanting to create a business, make something useful and clean up some the mess that we are all part of.” To learn more about the Scott sisters and the bags they produce sourced from recycled plastic material, read our special piece about them here.
Solgaard suitcases give plastic bottles the boot
As more of us mull a trip abroad in the near future, Canadian-Norwegian entrepreneur Adrian Solgaard has a new item to add to your itinerary: Solgaard suitcases, each one sourced from no fewer than 229 plastic bottles. Solgaard as a brand has achieved what they call ‘plastic negative’ status, taking plastic material and upcycling it into the products, while offsetting at least five pounds of plastic entering the oceans per item purchased.
The suitcases have been put to good use by the Extreme E team for 2021’s inaugural series of races, starting with the Ocean X Prix in Senegal back in May. Solgaard has been truly instrumental in keeping plastic from entering the oceans, with estimates that it stopped as many as 7 million from doing so in the last five years.
Luxury items such as suitcases have often been made of artificial materials such as plastic, but it takes a bit of imagination to take the detritus our existing plastic crisis and put it to better use in this way. Rather than just sweeping the plastic problem under the carpet, the likes of Solgaard are putting it centre-stage, finding yet another practical use for plastic waste.
In the up and coming weeks there will be a deeper dive on Solgaard, so be sure to subscribe and follow to stay up to date with the latest stories.