How to design a more environmentally friendly product and make it better?

How to design a more environmentally friendly product and make it better?

Oceana - Plant Pot made from recycled ocean plastics

This was a question which originally appeared and I answered on Quora : What innovative methods can I use to redesign my product? I thought it was an important question and I was fairly impressed with my answer!;-) I thought I’d keep it here for prosperity on my blog. You may be interested in finding out more.

The original answer can be found here: What innovative methods can I use to redesign my product? Tyrone Probert, Director at Www.ecotribo.com (2017-present) Answered May 24, 2019

There are many ways to improve a product’s performance. Kaizen is the philosophy of continuous improvement and businesses need to constantly be innovating. The two most popular ways to make product improvements are to add new product features or improve existing ones. You could create a new product incorporating technology such as IoT or Ai. But I thought I would discuss another interesting and in my opinion, a more relevant idea. If you are looking for an innovative approach to redesign your product/business I would suggest looking at ways that you can make it more sustainable.

The way we design and make things is changing. We need to design products and systems that can efficiently meet our needs within planetary boundaries. The current system is no longer working for businesses, people or the environment. Customers are actively looking for eco-friendly alternatives so I would explore how your business could be more sustainable from product design to packaging and marketing.

Most products are currently designed as if there are limitless resources – take-make-waste. We call this a linear economy. We take resources from the ground to make products, which we use, and, when we no longer want them we throw them away. A new system of design and manufacture is required that is circular and sustainable. Designers and business owners need to consider how we manage resources, how we make and use products, and what we do with the materials afterwards. Only then can we create a thriving economy that can benefit everyone within the limits of our planet and ensure a sustainable business.

So where to start …

Design out waste: 
Waste and pollution infiltrate every aspect of most businesses currently. These are often design decisions that happen at the product development stage and where 80% of environmental impacts happen. Consider how your product is assembled and disassembled and ensure it can be recycled easily. Can parts be returned and refreshed rather than the whole item being discarded? Can you use new materials and technology to reduce or eliminate waste and pollution?

Keep products and materials in use: 
Have you considered how your product could be repaired and reused in future? Could this thinking be a part of the redesign? Can you redesign your product so it can be repaired easily, reused and easily recycled? What materials are you using? Can they be from recycled or biomaterials? Can you create a system where you collect the product from customers at the end of its life for it to be repurposed and made into another? About 80 million tonnes of ‘waste’ in total are generated in the U.K. alone each year.[5. Are there ways you can reuse your waste streams and create new product ranges or leverage the material in other ways? Have you considered new business models such as leasing so you can ensure the quality and recyclability of your product and supply chain?

Regenerate natural systems:
Can your product design ensure it does good and enhances natural systems? Consider the materials, chemicals, factories and transport it uses to get made and get to market. Use wind and solar to power your workshops and factories as this can be a huge benefit for the planet (and your marketing).

So optimise every element of your product to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and be a leader in the new circular economy. Create a business that you and your children can be proud of. A business that will be around for the next generation and the generation after that. Create products that solve a need without harming our planet and you will be successful my friend.

Above is a picture of my latest product prototype called ‘Oceana’ which is made from recycled Ocean plastics. A simple plant pot but made locally from ocean waste. I believe even the simplest products can be improved by simply replacing the materials and ensuring they are eco-friendly. I intend that the product will be made locally too to ensure that I reduce the products carbon footprint further.

Plant pots made from recycled ocean plastics. Reducing plastic in our oceans

Oceana Plant Pot made from recycled ocean plastics

Using plastic in the ocean – cleaning our seas planting hope.

The ‘Oceana’ plant and flower pot made from recycled ocean plastics. Designed and made in the United Kingdom these eco-friendly planters are made from recycled fishing nets. A bridge between land and sea. Designed to clean our coastlines, reduce plastics in our oceans and bring nature lovingly back into our lives. They will boost your health and well-being by helping people bring nature back into their homes.

Plastic in our oceans – now used in the manufacturing process to reduce coastal pollution.

I have made a few 3D prints, prototypes, as well as hand, made planters. Now I am gearing up to manufacture this new design. As you can imagine its a tricky thing to do in the world of COVID restrictions. Important work keeps being delayed. It’s frustrating but I am moving forward steadily on this product and can now reveal more.

Original launch announcement video that appeared on Instagram & Youtube in January 2021

I have been exploring how we can utilise ocean plastics and recycle it into a variety of products. Creating a business that can be good for people and the planet. Over the years I’ve created designs for planters, lampstands, wetsuit hangers. These have been small scale and usually hand made.

I’m hoping to scale these ideas to full manufacture as we did with the bicycle mudguards. Plants are known to reduce Co2 and boost our health and well being. I can’t think of a better outcome for ocean plastic waste.

Oceana

Plant pot manufactured from
recycled ocean plastics

Jellyfish Moon Bloom

Lamp stands

Ocean Tide planters

Plant pot hand made from ocean plastics and an oyster shell bio-composite

Sign up to get a discount and support a small business trying to do good.

All going well, the product launch will be in the spring. Please signup to the newsletter to be the first to find out and get a discount. Your support for my small business makes the world of difference.

The planter is inspired by my daughter Oceana and my love of the sea. The design also takes cues from the grooves on the underside of the humpback whale giving it a unique natural shape. The design will be a beautiful ode to these magnificent creatures and help clean their environment.

It will complement your favourite plant and bring some much-needed positivity into your home. The eco-friendly recycled ocean plastic planters have a contemporary fresh ocean blue colour, are 100% waterproof, completely recyclable and designed to last a lifetime.

They will be locally manufactured as part of a Community project. Injection moulded utilising the Precious Plastics machine, providing education around material design, recycling and the environment. If successful, business will be able to provide income to coastal and less privileged communities and their families by utising ghost nets in its manufacture.

Initially available in a medium sized 14cm x 19.5 cm plant pot perfect for new starter/medium-sized plants. I expect to grow the range to 2 larger size variants as well as different colourways.

If you would like to find out more please sign up to the Ecotribo newsletter which can be found on the bottom of the homepage. Get in touch if you are interested in stocking the planters, or giving moral support! Your support is appreciated so please follow me on Instagram, share and sign up to the newsletter to get an early bird discount.


Recycled ocean plastics to make Bicycle mudguards – The story so far…

OceanX Mudguards made from recycled fishing Nets

Ecotribo is excited about our OceanX recycled ocean plastics project with Rideguard. We will be making the worlds first bicycle mudguards made from recycled fishing nets. We all know how big a problem ocean plastic waste is so we decided to do something about it.

Some of you may be interested in the back story to how the OceanX project came about and how we are turning the ocean waste problem into sustainable products.

It’s been an epic story to make a positive outcome for the environment and bring the OceanX project to life. For many years I have been working with recycled, ocean plastics and biomaterial waste streams. A design project I did on the side of my usual marketing job. As a surfer, the ocean, nature and outdoor pursuits had always been my passion and I wanted, more than anything, to bring these things into my daily life.

I met Ben Gaby, another designer and environmentalist, at a local advertising agency who specialised in bikes. We were two freelancer designers wanting to ride bikes, boards and do good. We bonded over discussions about design, the environment, his work with Surfers Against Sewerage, trash-free trails, bikes, boards and the outdoors. We became friends instantly.

Ben and I had been in conversation for a while around my material design experiments and exploration. A side project I had going on exploring alternatives to plastics as well as recycled plastic waste streams. During my research, I had come across a recycled Cornish fishing net material and created a few prototypes. I was keen to demonstrate how we could make things from waste and turn problems into products.

Ben, being equally as passionate about the environment, uses recycled industrial plastic within Rideguards current range. He was interested to see if recycled fishing net material would be suitable for his mudguards and we could help clean our oceans together. I jumped at the opportunity and we started working together.


Recycled Fishing
Net Surf Fin

Recycled Fishing Net
Bicycle Mudguards

Recycled Fishing Net Prototype in action


Rideguard and Ecotribo became partners on what we ended up calling – project OceanX. Working with coastal communities on the collection and processing of end of life fishing nets. We are giving commercial value to this precious resource and preventing it from being discarded. By finding new avenues for this material we are protecting our oceans and marine ecosystems. Both of our missions are to make quality products whilst creating a sustainable business that is good for people and planet.

We got to work. I created a 3D printed prototype mudguard from the material to see if it would be suitable for the rigours of mountain biking. The tests were a great success and we have been working on finding suppliers of the material, liaising with them and ensuring manufacturers are happy to do this at scale. We worked out we needed a lot of money to make this happen so created a Kickstarter campaign in the hope that we could get some financial help from the community.

Within a few weeks, we had raised over £4,124! We had loads of interest from the community of riders, bike press, environmental groups and Pro riders.


Recycled Ocean Plastics – The Rideguard + Ecotribo OceanX Kickstarter Video.


But it was not enough. At over £4k we had not hit the Kickstarter target and we got nothing. We had to start again. It was a kick in the teeth that after so much interest we still did not get fully funded. After a week or so we dusted ourselves off and got back on the bike so to speak. We were not going to stop. We had loads of support and felt the community of riders behind us. We were going to have to do this on our own…

We looked at the budget again and by not going with Kickstarter realised we could save nearly half the money. (Kickstarters fees are 10% and the international postage has to also be included in the campaign, making things very expensive.) We had run a great campaign and had got lots of interest we could maximise. So without these extra expenses, we decided to fund it all ourselves.

Things have grown from strength to strength and I continue to be a part of the Rideguard team. We have collected 1 ton of fishing nets now and have a couple of pro riders on board who we have made custom designs for and want to help us promote the project. (They will be announced soon) The material has been processed and cleaned. The material has been made into sheets ready for the final process of printing the designs on.

We have been busy creating various video assets, social stories and designs for the range so keep an eye out on the Instagram profile. The launch is a lot of work as we do this amongst a day job.


‘Deity’ Rideguard

Deity Illustration


As things stand we have cleaned 1 ton of material from our oceans, processed it and formed our sheet material ready to be printed. We are so close and things are looking good…

Bam! We have hit another bump in the road! Due to COVID -19, the material is sat in a warehouse and not moving as the factory has closed indefinitely… We are looking at other options and have found printers who can finish the job but it means new relationships, cutter guides and machinery…

We have been through so much to make this happen and it will. They say: ‘When victory is closest things get hard’. They also say… ‘it all works out in the end. If it’s not working out… it’s not the end.’

We have had to find deep reserves, meditate, listen to a lot of wisdom and read a lot of bumper stickers to get through. They have all helped. As have good friends, family and the community of riders and ocean lovers who have supported us. For you, for the oceans, the bike trails, the natural spaces we all love, we will keep going… For now, we need to pause and reflect. We need to think of all the good things that have happened and know the tide will turn. Stay tuned for new developments as we continue to find sustainable solutions to ocean waste.

If you are interested in finding out how the story ends, getting exclusive insider product testing information, please signup to the OceanX newsletter. We will be able to offer discounts, insights into our R&D and research, invitations to events and workshops. Signup, and be one of the first to know when we get the OceanX mudguard off the ground.

OceanX Logo

OceanX Bicycle Mudguards made from recycled Ocean Plastics now on Kickstarter

Rideguard Mudguards

Since the launch of Ecotribo we have been on a mission to make a sustainable design business and have been trying to develop strategies of pollution prevention, eco product development. I have been super busy and working with some exciting brands with this objective in mind. 

This year I have been doing a R&D project with a large European food brand. I can’t currently share the project details but now I can finally share the other project I have been super excited about! The Rideguard OceanX Kickstarter project.

Please pledge to the campaign on Kickstarter

A collaboration with Bristol bike company, Rideguard

I am collaborating with Rideguard who are a wonderful local Bristol Business who have been making mudguards for over 4 years. Rideguard have been using post industrial waste plastics for their current range but Ecotribo are now helping them go even further. I have been working with Ben Gaby at Rideguard to develop a new range made form Ocean Plastics.  We’re proud to introduce the OceanX range of bike mudguards/fenders, made from 100% recycled fishing nets which has been launched on Kickstarter. Please check out the project and make a pledge if you can. 

The OceanX range of designs

By choosing this material we will be preventing nets from being discarded in our oceans, where they cause large-scale damage to marine ecosystems and animals, before breaking down into micro-plastics and ending up in the food chain and the fish we eat. The recycled fishing net material reduces C02 emissions by up to 95% compared to virgin plastics. The material is completely recycled and recyclable in kerbside council pickups.

This is more than just a range of mudguards, it’s about how the cycling industry can be the change that we want to see. 

With this campaign alone we aim to take 1 ton of Ocean waste out of the seas and turn it into rad bike gear. This is just the start of our journey as we hope to create a range of cycling gear made from recycled ocean plastic waste. Please support us and visit, make a pledge and share!

The OceanX Mudguard Range. Designed to universally fit Mountain Bikes, Disk Equipped Gravel, Road, CX, and Hybrid Bikes. 

•  Vision Front Gravel Mudguard. Fits Disc Brake Equipped Gravel, Cross, Road, and Hybrid Bikes. 

•  Gaiter Rear Gravel Mudguard. Neatly clips onto all standard saddle rails. 

•  PF1 Front Mountain Bike Mudguard. Fits all modern MTBs with suspension forks. 

•  PF2 Rear Mountain Bike Mudguard. Neatly clips onto all standard saddle rails.

Please follow the OceanX campaign on Kickstarter today and share with your friends

Finding solutions to plastic waste. Working with Bio Materials

IMG 20190219 133959469 LR 2

There have been some exciting developments at the tribes home base in Bristol, United Kingdom. We have been exploring the many material properties of nature and have found some amazing alternative materials that are good for the planet and can help use waste materials that would usually end up in landfill. We are currently exploring and cooking up many different materials to get a deeper understanding of their properties, the pros and cons and suitability for particular uses. Yesterday I was accepted for an exhibition in Bath where I will be able to showcase some of these experiments as well as some more realised eco-design projects.

Please visit the ‘What we are made of’ exhibition opening night at 44AD artspace: Fri 08 March (6pm8pm). It will be running for a week at 4 Abbey Street Bath BA1 1NN.

It’s still very exploratory but there have been some amazing finds. I have developed a bioplastic and have tried it in a sheet form as well as in a mould. Its made from a mix of Agar, glycerin and water. The material is very similar in property to the plastic we know when dried. This is an exciting development!

We have had some success with a material made from local coffee granules gratefully received from my favourite local cafe and coffee shop called Friska. The coffee granules make a beautiful material when mixed with a concoction of glycerin, agar and alginate. I’m still experimenting with quantities etc to make the perfect mix. It’s super robust when air dried after a few days. although there is quite a lot of shrinkage as it dries.

Bio material made form recycled coffee
Bio material made form recycled coffee

We are still developing the surf product made from recycled plastic waste. It has taken a long time as the CAD modelling has needed more adjustments and the tooling costs are looking very steep! So its been a bit of an uphill struggle finding the best way forward to fund this project. HAving said that I have some ideas up my sleave so am moving forward again with the hope to have a final 3D print ready by the end of March to show potential investors.

If you would like to keep up to date with the latest developments please follow us on Instagram @ecotribolife or sign up for the newsletter! Thanks for ready and for your support!

OCEAN – A designer chair made from recycled plastic

OCEAN banner

OCEAN – Each piece of the chair represents a letter of the precious ocean we all share. When we work together we can find solutions. I made this recycled plastic chair “design story” to highlight the impacts that plastic pollution is having on our planet. But fundamentally to also provide a positive narrative, positive solutions and outcomes to this pollution horror story. The story can end well, there is hope for our planet! You can download my files for FREE to make your own now and share in the joy of making something useful from the pollution. There is lots of work to do and many people are finding positive solutions to the plastic problem, the tide is turning. Applying circular economy principles to global plastic pollution flows can transform the economy and dramatically reduce pollution into our precious oceans.

I have been working with recycled plastic, & eco materials, exploring design solutions to our eco-challenges for a few years. Dave Hakkens at Precious plastic has been a massive inspiration so please go check out the Precious Plastic site and start collaborating, designing, making and finding solutions.

This “OCEAN CHAIR” was made with local recycled condensed plastic sheets. I used a UK company called Stormboard who are based in Frome near where I live in Bristol. There are a few other companies now who make some beautiful, recycled plastic sheet materials in a variety of colours. I have been trying to make this material in various ways such as melting plastic milk bottles in my oven!  So I am very relieved that there are now manufacturers doing it for me ;-). I have decided to “open source” my OCEAN CHAIR files so if you interested you can make the chair yourself. Please use the files to create your own (Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International) (if you could be kind enough to credit, tag me that would be most welcome), share, adapt or get inspired and or create something new. Also if you just want to buy one please get in touch with me and we can discuss your preferred colours, material, timelines etc.

If you do make the OCEAN chair please do send me a picture I’d love to see it.

Good luck.

PLEASE SIGNUP TO OUR EMAIL LIST TO RECEIVE THE FREE FILES OR GET IN TOUCH

New range of surf & home products made in the UK from recycled ocean plastic

Surfer photo riding a wave

[fusion_text]I have been on a journey of discovery for quite a while. As a surfer for over 30 years I love the sea, I grew up in South Africa on the beach surfing every day. My daughter is called Oceana and I have always found my happy place anywhere where there was water. Having spent many days doing beach cleans, I wanted to find positive solutions to the waste we find on our beaches. As a designer I knew I could make a positive impact and demonstrate the value of this plastic we so carelessly throw away by making practical things from plastic waste.

I was first inspired by Dave Hakkens at Precious plastic a few years ago and the great work that they have been doing with regard to finding solutions to plastic waste.  Since then I have been experimenting with various waste streams over the last year and am now ready to make this dream a reality. I have located the right machinery to recycle, shred and injection mould our surf & home products and now busy finalising the CAD models for the first in a range of products we hope to launch in the summer of 2018.

Here is a sneak peak of one of the products to be made from ocean plastic waste and post-consumer waste.

[/fusion_text][separator style_type=”shadow” top_margin=”10″ bottom_margin=”30″ sep_color=”#050505″ border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”10″ alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][youtube id=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITMwYLjU6bY&list=PLIFbuiiAsHS0PmvwnnklxXnZNsFCzv4rs&index=9″ width=”800″ height=”550″ autoplay=”no” api_params=”” class=””][/youtube][separator style_type=”shadow” top_margin=”30″ bottom_margin=”10″ sep_color=”#050505″ border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”10″ alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]We have been experimenting with recycling local plastic waste streams and finding the right materials that work for our products and have found HDPE to be the ideal. Check out a closeup of the material below.

The machines are expensive but I feel it’s important to make this a reality and be the change we want to see in the world. The plan is in place and it’s coming together. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more or support us on our quest to help clean up our oceans, raise awareness of plastic waste, contribute positively to a better environment and a more sustainable circular economy.

I was first inspired by Dave Hakkens at Precious plastic a few years ago and the great work that they have been doing with regard to finding solutions to plastic waste.  Since then I have been experimenting with various waste streams over the last year and am now ready to make this dream a reality. I have located the right machinery to recycle, shred and injection mould our surf & home products and now busy finalising the CAD models for the first in a range of products we hope to launch in the summer of 2018.

Here is a sneak peak of one of the products to be made from ocean plastic waste and post-consumer waste.[/fusion_text][separator style_type=”shadow” top_margin=”30″ bottom_margin=”30″ sep_color=”#050505″ border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”10″ alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][images picture_size=”auto” hover_type=”none” autoplay=”yes” columns=”2″ column_spacing=”13″ scroll_items=”” show_nav=”yes” mouse_scroll=”no” border=”yes” lightbox=”yes” class=”” id=””][image link=”” linktarget=”_self” image=”https://ecotribo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/MAchines2-300×141.jpg” alt=”Ecotribo Recycled HDPE Plastic”][image link=”” linktarget=”_self” image=”https://ecotribo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/RecycledHDPE-300×141.jpg” alt=”Precious Plastic machines”][/images][separator style_type=”shadow” top_margin=”10″ bottom_margin=”30″ sep_color=”#050505″ border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”10″ alignment=”center” class=”” id=””]

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