The future is plastic free
Your new creative tool to design plastic out of existence
Imagine what would happen if 160 million creatives rose up and designed a plastic free world. Not in 2040 but today… that’s the thinking behind this new solutions platform
Plastic is not a pollution problem, a recycling problem, or a waste problem. It’s a design problem. It’s a systems problem.Siân Sutherland
Ridding the world of plastic is being attacked on all sides, but what if we never used it in the first place?
Environmental organisation A Plastic Planet just launched online platform PlasticFree which aims to combat the scourge of plastic and single-use systems, much like the UK has promised to do from October 2023. A place to source plastic-free materials and connect with like-minded producers and makers, shockingly this is the world’s first materials and systems solutions platform aimed at students and designers of all ages, but specifically focused on emerging and new designers.
Importantly, the design-led platform has the backing of a supergroup of more than 40 of the world’s pre-eminent designers, material scientists, creators and business leaders, including world-renowned architect and designer Thomas Heatherwick; architect Sir David Chipperfield; British design legend Tom Dixon; renowned British photographer Rankin; Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit; Shaway Yeh, one of the most influential media and opinion leaders in Asian fashion, and Skylar Tibbits of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The subscription-based service aims to help designers and business leaders eradicate one trillion pieces of plastic waste from the global economy by 2025. By translating topics that can often be lofty or very dry, into digestible and desirable, it’s capable of inspiring great positive change amongst creatives. And, critically, it feels optimistic, a place full of potential and possibility of making a world that no longer depends on plastic – this incredible but toxic and indestructible material.
The database works as an empowering device that will constantly update, featuring online design tools, an alternative solutions finder and insights for designers at all levels to make better decisions about our future. There are over 100 plastic-free alternatives, trend reports and insights in system changes, such as solid formulations and permanent reusable packaging. Students and businesses can review the 125 in-depth case studies from five continents, giving examples of alternative materials used with better-existing products and systems and editorials from the heroes of the circular design world.
Siân Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, is excited about the potential this offers the creative generations now and in the future:
“Everything begins with a creative process. Creatives hold significant power to help us rethink how we take, make and waste, to reimagine different systems. Designers want to be part of the solution, but there is a minefield of misinformation out there.” By giving them trusted, relevant data and inspiring case studies, Sutherland continues, “… we believe we can change everything much faster.”
Jos Harrison, Global Head of Brand Experience & Design, Reckitt Benckiser Group, the makers of brands including Durex, and Detol, said, “PlasticFree combines like-minded passion and depth of expertise in a platform that will empower teams of designers inside and outside our organisation – and across the industry; this can only be a good thing – supercharging the unique capacity of designers to imagine and improve the future.”
The platform also offers secure team workspaces for project collaboration so that projects can design waste at the beginning of the creative process. Creatives can subscribe to the platform for £250 annually and will also receive access to exclusive events and networking opportunities.
Sutherland adds that ultimately they have one simple goal – to make the designer the smartest, most confident person in the room. “We want to push back against that inevitable brief that says just use a bioplastic or a recycled polymer, so we get a green tick. Above all, our focus is on system change not just better materials.”
“We exist to help you create what’s next.”
What’s so good about this?
Everything begins with a creative process. The design it out of existence approach attacks the issue before it becomes a problem. By making designers aware of new alternative materials, faster we give the world the best chance of plastic-free future. Head to PlasticFree.com to explore how to join the movement. Because your creative skills, your business drive, was never intended to cause the damage we now witness. Your skills are needed to change systems, materials, lives, outcomes and most importantly, our future.
Meet the writer
Disruption-lover Paul Armstrong is a leading expert on the future of technology and innovation. He runs emerging technology advisory, HERE/FORTH. His best-selling book, Disruptive Technologies, offers organisations a distinct response to emerging technologies including AI, 3-D printing, Blockchain and was recently udpated to include web3, multiverse technologies. He is on the board of Global Tech Advocates and an Ambassador for Meaningful Business and runs TBD Conference.