Students deliver innovative designs to tackle plastic pollution plague
Innovative student-designed products aimed at tackling some of the planet’s greatest challenges including plastic waste and mental health will go on display to the public this week.
Sixteen Product Design students from the University of Sussex will be displaying their final-year projects at the British Airways i360 on Brighton seafront this Friday (12 April) between 10am and 5pm.
Among the inventive products on display will be WASTENOT by Nikita Simoné – a kit that can transform non-recyclable household waste such as bottle tops, coffee capsules and mushroom punnets into eye-catching and versatile tiles.
The waste material, which is put into a mould and then into an oven for 30 minutes at 200C, is transformed into beautiful objects for around the house including coasters, wall tiles, table tops and art pieces. Recipients of the kits will also get lots of helpful information and advice about recycling best practice.
Nikita hopes her innovation will help councils to improve lowly recycling rates, which are often hampered when small pieces of non-recyclable waste contaminate recyclable material, and reduce the amount of waste that goes into incinerators and landfill every year.
She said: “I was looking to create something that would change people’s perception and behaviours around waste and I’ve created something that anyone could use in their own home. It would be amazing if I could work with local councils to share my kits with as many people as possible and support that educational message with workshops and exhibitions.
“From my research, I know people do care about the environment and plastic waste and they do want to do something about it. They just don’t know how.”
Another student inspired to tackle plastic pollution is Jake Arney. His Blue+You project involves a two-day workshop focussed on mindfulness techniques, a beach clean and a workshop where participants can use a specially created injection moulding machine to transform waste material into Begleri – traditional Greek worry beads.
The project has been inspired by the blue mind philosophy of marine biologist and author Wallace J. Nichols which promotes the meditative and calming effect of being in close proximity to the sea.
Jake, who co-founded the Plastic Free Pledge campaign group last year, calling on organisations and businesses to reduce their use of single-use plastics, said: “What I hope is that people will learn the techniques to harness the ocean as a mindfulness aid that they can then take away with them and use. Hopefully people will then think, ‘If I rely on the ocean for my own mental wellbeing, then how could I possibly do anything that would harm it?’
“The project has been very much inspired by my own experience of living here in Brighton and how the ocean has helped with my own mental wellbeing.”
Previous design show entrants have gone on to considerable success, including 2014 graduate Max Grew, who invented a low-cost redesign of a traditional large-format camera for his final-year project. Since leaving the University of Sussex, Max has grown his own successful Brighton-based company The Intrepid Camera.
Diane Simpson-Little, Senior Teaching Fellow in Product Design at the University of Sussex, said: “I am very proud of all the student projects this year and there is a strong theme of sustainability throughout. All the projects are based in solid research and solve very current and pressing issues for both individual and societal needs.”
The Design Show has also been open to viewings on the University of Sussex campus this week in the Gardner Tower of the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. Showings have taken place on Monday between 1pm and 5pm and on Tuesday and Wednesday, both between 10am and noon, before heading to the i360 this Friday.
A British Airways i360 spokesperson said: “British Airways i360 was built with sustainability at its heart and seeks to celebrate, engage with and give back to the natural and man-made environments that are viewable from the pod. We are delighted to be displaying such innovative design ideas which have also been created with sustainability at the forefront of design.”