Today is the start of World Water Week, and I thought this would be a good occasion to share the process behind one of my recent designs that is inspired by marine life.
A lot of my designs are inspired by nature, and one of the things I feel really passionately about is protecting the environment. I’m so glad that so many different environmental campaigns are really taking off at the moment, such as the increased awareness of plastic waste in the oceans. I wanted to create a beautiful design with aquatic life, that has a subtle message about preserving the environment. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, ‘an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea every year, killing and harming marine life.'
I’ve created repeating patterns before, and I love the challenge. The first time I tried to create a wallpaper design in my first year of university, it took me quite a while to work out how to make it effectively repeat. I later created a series of wallpaper designs based on urban features as one of my final year projects. This series of designs was based on some of the functional, industrial, yet beautiful features of urban landscapes. I like the idea of creating something very decorative and pretty that still has a bit of a twist to it.
My newest design was influenced by a trip I took earlier in the summer to visit the South London Gallery, where I saw the work of Brazilian artist Luiz Zerbini. Some of his paintings were purely abstract, while others were scenes of what looked like contemporary Brazilian cities with a mix of urban detritus and local plants and animals.
I hope this year will be turning point in the way that many people think about the environment. In the UK, where temperatures are usually quite mild throughout the year, we’ve experienced a long and cold winter, with snows in March, and record heat and drought throughout June and July. I hope these extremes, which were experienced across many parts of the planet, will make more people realise that immediate, concrete things need to be done to address climate change. On the macro level, we need to shift our ways of working, our policies, and our economies. This is no easy task, and sometimes it’s overwhelming to think how little impact just one person can have. Still, there are changes we can make to gradually chip away at the problem on a micro level.
I’ve signed up to emails alerting me to different petitions, like those organised by 38 Degrees. I sign my name to lots of good causes, and often email companies and my local MP.
WWF recommends buying a reusable water bottle and a reusable cup for hot drinks, which is a really simple change that saves lots of money. See their list of top tips for more ideas.
One of the tutors at the university told me about No Serial Number Magazine, which I hope to subscribe to for our library. Their blog has some good tips for going zero waste, or at least minimising your waste.
I’ve made a lot of changes in the kitchen, where we now use mostly natural and environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and longer-lasting cleaning tools like E-cloth sponges and wipes which require less products overall. I’ve also swapped out our plastic containers with BPA free plastic and glass ones, and used the old plastic containers to store things like art supplies.
Working with the textile design students has made me more aware of the huge impact of the textile and fashion industries on the environment, and communities of workers all over the world. It’s heartening to see so many students, graduates, researchers, and tutors working on innovative ways to change the textile industry.
I think I’m always going to be a bit of an online shopping addict, but I’ve finally been able to funnel my addiction into buying second-hand clothes online through sites like Vinted. I’ve been able to buy new or almost new, high-quality shoes for £10 - £25. I bought a beautiful 60’s style brocade swing coat for £25, and lots of smaller items like tops, skirts, and trousers for around £5 - £10. I really don’t think I’ll go back to shopping for new clothes like I used to.
I’m not saying this to show how environmentally friendly I am (because I’m really not, compared to other people who have gone zero waste). If anything, I know there are lots of other things I can be doing, but I want to show other people that changing your habits doesn’t have to be a big, intimidating thing. You can start by making small changes that help you and the environment, and save you money as well. I hope in the future it will be a lot easier to choose to environmentally-friendly options over other options.
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