Week 12 – Design and Develop

While researching this problem and taking walks I recorded a disturbing amount of animal deaths on the beach. These included a dolphin, seagulls, what looked like a decapitated seal, and a large bird that may have been a heron. The dolphin had been reported and tagged by the proper authorities, but it is always distressing to find these dead animals. Some may have been killed by natural causes, but anything we can do to decrease the plastic and pollution on the beach will help. Marine waste is a huge problem, as commercial fishing waste is one of the top sources of ocean pollution. Nets wash up on shores all of the time, tangling and fraying, but occasionally an entire “ghost net” will appear. These are incredibly dangerous as fish and marine wildlife get tangled in them and die. A few weeks ago an entire net washed up on my local beach, and a volunteer from Fathoms Free showed up to help dissemble and remove the ghost net.

Facebook post from my local beach, Sandy Acres

Waterhaul, is a Cornish company specialising in recycling marine waste. Two of their projects caught my eye – Harlyn eyeglasses, and their Retask the Mask project on Kickstarter.

The Harlyn glasses have been around for a while, but while researching recycling options for body boards I was struck by it again. The glasses are made from recycled fishing nets, and their striking aqua colour comes directly from colour of the nets used. They have plenty of other options, but I’m quite taken by the Harlyn’s ability to unlock the inherit beauty of refuse, as well as their underpinning goal of 100% recycled material being made useful again.

The Kickstarter project is an excellent design response to a current issue.

The pandemic has made disposable masks an unfortunately common sight all over the country, with people losing or tossing them when no longer needed. By collecting and recycling the masks, melting them down and then using them to create foldable litter pickers, Waterhaul are creating a self sustaining narrative around recycling and environmental responsibility and sustainability. Their Kickstarter was fully funded in less than 5 hours! This is a very timely and effective response to a problem, as well as an exciting avenue for future projects. I had not considered disposable PPE as being recyclable, and am now wondering if this could be a sustainable solution to the amount of PPE discarded under normal circumstances as well.