Are you local? Yes, born and bred in Brighton. I went to school at Blatchington Mill, and studied interior architecture at the University of Brighton. I lived in the French Alps for five months after uni but I’ve been here ever since.
What do you do now? I wear many hats, but they’re all based around circular economy design. In short, that means something that is regenerative by design. Like in nature; there is no waste, everything feeds into another process creating balance across the biosphere. Our design studio work is based around materials and how we can better utilise what we’ve got, designing products with a second, third and fourth life – especially within our research area of marine plastics. I also teach on the Product Design course at the University of Sussex and I’m a regional rep for Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).
How is Brighton doing on a sustainability front? Okay. We’re definitely not the best, and we’re definitely not the worst. From a policy perspective, the council are doing some great things. Time and resources are limited but there is a lot of movement to make things better. Recycling rates are slowly improving: we’re up to 30.4 per cent of domestic waste, but we’re still way behind places like Yorkshire.
Are there pockets of good practice in Brighton? We’ve got some forward-thinking ethical brands and brilliant innovation from businesses. Hisbe was one of the first to open up the conversation about reducing plastic waste to a wider audience and now we have refill centres like the Wastenot Shop in the Open Market, Harriots of Hove, and The Store at Five Ways. Brighton is a bit of a bubble – people are more concerned about their individual impact and understanding how their shopping choices can make a difference – but we could still do better, especially with summer beach goers.
What can we do as individuals? Five years ago you had to be a ‘deep greeny’ to be carrying around a reusable coffee cup: now the majority of us do it, but we need to be assisted by policy and businesses. At SAS Brighton and Hove, we’ll be doing a ‘plastic free basket challenge’, going to different supermarkets in the city to see if they offer plastic free options. The more people call out bad practise, the more retailers will realise that people are voting with their wallets.
Do you have a favourite place to eat? Silo. What Doug [McMaster] has done with zero-waste is pretty revolutionary in the restaurant industry. I take my students there to learn about the complexities of the circular economy. Also, the food is amazing. I go foraging, so I’ve got a big thing about seasonality, and Silo is really good at connecting you to what is around at the time and using things in a resourceful way so that nothing gets wasted.
Where would you live if you didn’t live here? I’ve got a big love for Amsterdam, and for Scandinavian countries. Their love of design is deeply entrenched and good design is for everyone, not just those who can afford it. Also, their deep love of, and connectedness with, nature is really special.