We are constantly being reminded in the media that our planet is precious and we should be very mindful of all that we throw away into landfill, but what do we do when we simply no longer have use for an item and have to dispose of it? This is when ‘upcycling’ should spring to mind.
Every day people everywhere are churning out mountains of plastic and non-biodegradable waste. There is a general lack of awareness about the amount of waste and we need an innovative new approach to this issue: upcycling – the practice of converting waste materials into products of greater value, is a philosophy that transforms the way we conceive of waste. Upcycling is not just a solution to a problem, but a new method of thinking about and working with an asset (formerly known as rubbish) which is already present in abundance in our communities today. ’One person’s waste is my treasure’ according to Catri, our Eco Artist.
Check out these other Eco Artists and just see what is currently happening with waste in the art world:
It is simply amazing to think that all of these would never have existed had they been thrown away.
One artist, who we find particularly interest is Mark Langan – check out: http://tinyurl.com/7293akd everyone disposes of a cardboard, often on a weekly basis and it is wonderful to think that corrugated cardboard can be used in such an innovative way. This creative method of the reuse of a material in everyday usage is one of the wonders of upcycling.
Terracycle UK are leading the way in recycling waste. TerraCycle’s purpose is to eliminate the idea of waste. They do this by creating national recycling systems for the previously non-recyclable. The process starts by offering programmes to collect people’s waste and then convert the collected waste into a wide range of products and materials.
This is another solution to the problem of landfill and is reusing the discarded items in a practical sense. Terracycle have an interesting Facebook page where there activities can be checked out: http://www.facebook.com/TerraCycleUK We are all working towards the same end.
How about building houses from recycled waste? Recently, the incredible 747 House, a Malibu home built from the recycled parts of a Boeing 747! This was the brainchild of David Hertz, principal at David Hertz Architects and Studio of Environmental Architecture. Where had the inspiration to tear into a 747 and integrate the pieces and parts into a home come from? Apparently there was loads of red tape, hoops and hurdles that the team had to overcome to make the dream a reality. The 747 House is just the beginning in a series of buildings to be constructed from the decommissioned plane. This has to be one of the most outstanding upcycling projects http://tinyurl.com/7l7kgst
This is ultra-quick and the fleeces are so flexible. By using their natural shape, there
is no need for pattern cutting. True eco-chic is incorporating the natural lines of the material you are working with. No added extras, this makes the process totally green and sustainable.
Eco-chic reigns supreme
The original users look on in amusement!
Matching boots finish the outfit off
Here is Sheep Chic taken to the extreme. Back to where it originated from, although these are far more graceful and elegant sheep. Eco-chic is here to stay.
This is green couture
Green couture is here to stay – so natural
Green couture is so easy to wear
Sheep Chic is available to anyone
Ethical Eco Art wants to be the pioneers of the this new wave in couture, it ticks all the boxes for us: green, sustainable and eco-chic. The ultimate in upcycling and fashion.
wardrobe on the right has been upcycled with the sole intention of investigating how man interacts with nature. The use of conkers, moss and paint rescued from a skip represents the profiligacy of society today.
Catri created this from nature’s discarded produce that she found lying around the woods at Clue Hill Farm and she recycled them to decorate the exterior of the wardrobe. This is a very sustainable and eco-friendly use of natural materials, but by applying the paint, which was rescued from landfill, the wardrobe starts to interact with man and takes on a totally different identity.
Interestingly, some three years later, the moss still remains a vibrant green colour. It is difficult to decide whether the wardrobe should remain part of the woods, or become a centre piece in the house. It fits easily in either location.
Nature does not know the concept of waste; the only species capable of making something no one desires is the human species.” - Gunter Pauli, Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives
However, if you can recycle that waste, by re-imaging it and use it to recreate something special to cherish, then all is not lost.
Catri found this abandoned car and upcycled it totally from items which had been thrown away. The effect is extremely striking and from being a rusting heap of metal, was transformed immediately into an iconic symbol of Recycled Art.
This is what is happening at http://www.digitaluniverse.net/upcycling/ Here they are working with communities around the world and as they develop their expertise, so they can start to develop their influence on a global platform.
Gikomba is a part of Nairobi that is well known for metal working and it is here that the people have been practising Recycled Art and Upcycling in a totally sustainable and eco-friendly way http://www.trunity.net/upcycling/articles/view/158548/. What is so interesting about Recycled Art, is that is has a worldwide appeal, not just a buzz word in the developing countries. The practice can be adopted by anyone, just so long as they understand the value of re-using everything.
It was just a few days ago that I was invited to a barn in the middle of a field in rural Buckinghamshire. As I drove through the gate the sheep and their lambs looked up quizzically from their grazing. I could see wisps of smoke floating up over the hedge. A witch’s hat and broomstick were leant on the gatepost and there was the soft murmur of female voices.
Was I really being permitted to enter the inner sanctum of a north Bucks witches’ coven? As instructed, I had brought with me my mordanted angora goat fleeces, but sadly, some moths had got there before me and taken the best bits.
The smell of wood smoke became even stronger as I opened the gate and entered the hedged area. Were these mild mannered ladies really whispering spells as they prodded the fires under the cauldrons to get the contents to boiling point? Actually, what I had just happened upon was the annual dyeing evening of a local group of spinners. An amazing gathering keeping rural crafts alive in 2011, using traditional methods from hundreds of years ago. What we would now term as ‘eco-friendly’.
There were other ‘cauldrons’ bubbling away, each with its own natural dye: log wood, brazil wood, madder, bog myrtle, indigo and weld, to name but a few. What was fascinating was observing the gradually and very subtle change of colour as the spun yarn and raw fleeces were taken out and washed and hung up to dry. Sometimes a knitted button was included, to ensure that it would be the same colour as the yarn. Sometimes just half the wool was dyed, thus creating some incredible contrasting colours.
The dyes for this are all totally natural and therefore giving wonderful subtle and earthy colours. This must been one of the greenest and sustainable events that I have ever been to.
Observing the whole process were some of the sheep, making the whole scene quite surreal. Almost as if they were extremely proud of their produce and were quite at ease showing it off – the ovine fashion parade!
As home made cakes and hot potatoes were handed round, together with a glass of wine, the whole occasion took on a somewhat surreal atmosphere. This event has been quietly taking place annually for the past 25 years, hidden in this Buckinghamshire backwater. Only the farmers who produce the sheep and the ladies who spin the yarn are invited.
Witches’ coven or not, this surely has to be one of the best ways of ensuring that rural crafts are kept alive. People in cities would pay a fortune to have the ‘experience’.
These colours are just staggeringly beautiful and so varied. What is most amazing, is that they are all from totally natural dyes
Why should our reaction to Roadkill Couture be any different to someone wearing a leather jacket, or leather shoes? Is it somehow more shocking to to have a visual reminder of the previous owner?]]>
It feels like silk, but is easy to care for. It is green, ethical and eco-friendly, as it is made from sub-standard milk which would otherwise have been thrown out. It is a balancing act between science and fashion. It is a viable alternative to cotton and does not use pesticides.
What could be simpler and better than Couture from Cow’s Milk?]]>
This is a ‘celebration of wildlife’ according to Jess Eaton, who is the founder of Roadkill Couture at her Eaton Nott shop in Brighton. At Ethical Eco Art we feel it does dovetail in very well with our exploration of man’s interaction with nature. The clothes are amazing!
Our new client’s kitchen has just been renovated, which means that the bookshelves in the fireplace recess now house a collection of vintage china plates. This leaves the books temporarily homeless.
If the kitchen renovations have been designed to reflect a green and ec0-friendly lifestyle, the new bookshelves must showcase all of these factors.
Sourcing a pre-loved set of shelving is the easy part – either from one of our partnership businesses who are disposing of some, or via our local furniture exchange Emmaus www.emmaus.org.uk/oxford, or the scrapstore: Orinoco www. orinoco.org both in Oxford. The design and upcycling is the next and exciting part. The energy-efficient electrical appliances in the kitchen are all integrated into the neutral oak fitted units, with the exception of the large American-style metallic grey fridge (see ww.greenandeasy.co.uk for similar green appliances). The oak and the colour grey should therefore be the key to the new design. Using a grey/silver metallic paint as a base should be easy to mix from our stock of paint rescued from landfill. All the stages of this project are totally sustainable green.
Due to the location of this house: the New Forest, we feel that nature should be the theme for the sides and top of the bookcase. After all, the New Forest is one of our wonderful National Parks and an area where the wildlife and its natural habitats take precedent over man’s right to reside there – www.thenewforest.co.uk.
We have a stock of dried, pressed oak leaves (sustainably sourced every year from the woods at Clue Hill Farm) – the New Forest oaks being the main native broadleaf tree and are found in their thousands in the Forest. So we propose gluing these leaves around the bookcase and then layering them with marine varnish to ensure a long-lasting sheen and lacquered effect, very reminiscent of the layers of dew found on the oak leaves in the early morning or evening. Then interweaving threads of natural hemp, again glued and covered in gold metallic paint, to symbolise the rays of sunlight as they radiate through the forest canopy and suggest the effect of the threads of a spider’s web being caught in the early morning sun.
All the embellishments to this pre-loved bookcase will be handmade. They are all sourced ethically and in a sustainable way (mostly rescued from skips) and what they create is the renaissance of an item which was destined for landfill and the result is an upcycled iconic work of art representing a lifestyle choice in the home
A photographic trail of the upcycling process will be fed into the website at its various stages over the next few weeks, which is the time it takes to create this amazing transformation.]]>
It’s a very topical subject, the one of man’s relationship with the natural world. How we treat animals, what our relationship is with them, how we respect their habitats and ensure that they have a quality of life equal to ours. We need to remember that the waste from our ‘throwaway society’ has a great impact on where they are living.
Every time you discard a piece of packaging you should consider: is this going into landfill, if I can re-cycle it, how can I do this without increasing my own carbon footprint by doing so, e.g. driving to a recycling collection point. Am I behaving in a totally green and ethical manner.
Max, the fox in the photo, is still proving that fox hunting is alive and well today. He has outwitted the hounds and is about to go to ground in his secret lair in the woods at Clue Hill farm. He knows that it will be safe to lie low here because the land has remained untreated by any artificial fertilizers, or pesticides for over twenty years, it is an organic farm. The permanent pasture is species rich and has an abundance of grasses, clovers and wild flowers, providing delicious grazing for rabbits and deer: both muntjac and fallow. The pheasants, which are bred in Church Wood next door, love to stroll through the long grasses in this wildlife haven, so that they can avoid the men with guns, who frequent their woods at weekends in the shooting season. This, in turn, provides Max with a living larder right on his doorstep. His carbon footprint is zero and he is very generous, infact insistent on adhering to a stict recycling policy. He leaves the carcasses from his prey lying around for the local carrion to enjoy – not just the crows, but also an ever growing population of red kites. Any leftovers are then licked clean by the feral farm cats. This is the positive impact of man’s interaction with nature: by managing grazing and maintaining wide hedgerows and thus wildlife corridors, Clue Hill farm has a sustainable eco system of its own.
What Max must remember is, that not all fields are safe. He respects no boundaries and to the east is the B4011 with its endless stream of motorcycles, cars taking people to work, children to school and trucks with deliveries, all paying little heed to the 50 mph speed restriction, their carbon footprint and the impact they are having on the countryside as they speed by. These are his main predators nowadays, along with the patrolling guards and their dogs on the MOD land to the south. He has to learn how to live in harmony alongside these man-made creations without losing his identity.