Archive for April, 2013

The Sea Chair

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

What would you say if I told you that a group of artists has come up with a solution to the garbage in the ocean? That they have an idea to turn fishing boats into mobile furniture factories, trawling the sea for old plastic bags to use to make chairs?  Keiren Jones & Studio Swine are the forces behind this bold new concept of recycling and manufacturing.  Meet The Sea Chair:

The Sea Chair_6

The Sea Chair is made entirely from garbage found in the ocean.

 

 

This blog usually focus’s on items relating directly to natural fiber, its uses, and natural fiber composites.  Today I would like to show you a project that deals with sustainability and recycling.  I think it will be interesting to anyone who spends time working in the green economy.

As citizens of planet Earth, we need to be aware that there is a growing crisis happening in our oceans.  This phenomenon of garbage floating in the ocean goes by many names.  One of the better known moniker’s is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  The garbage isn’t limited to the Pacific Ocean, it can be found in all the Earth’s oceans.  These are large gyres of garbage, and they are growing.  The map below shows the magnitude of the problem.

Gyre Map

Map showing location of ocean garbage gyres

It isn’t just that the garbage finds its way into the gyres, these areas are just the centers of greatest concentration of pollution.  The garbage found in the gyres is degraded by time, wind and water and broken down into very small particle size.  These small, broken down pieces of garbage are usually plastic.  They wreak havoc on the marine environment in a number of ways.  They are eaten by krill and pollute our food chain, and they wash up and pollute beaches.

The Sea Chair is a project from artist Keiren Jones & Studio Swine.  As it says on their webpage, the idea came after a trip to the beach.  They said that the pollution wasn’t readily apparent, but after awhile they noticed that some of the “sand” was floating.  The team then realized that the plastic pollutants were ground so small that they were hiding in plane sight.  Looking down at the beach, what looked like sand was plastic.  Jones and the rest of the team wanted to do something to not only reduce the pollution, but make it economically viable to do so.

Collecting Nurdles

Harvesting nurdles of plastic from the beach

They came up with an idea to harvest the pollution from the marine environment and create furniture.  The plastic could be reclaimed from the beach or from out in open water.  The plastic would then be heated up and molded into the simple design known as The Sea Chair.  The best part of the design is that anyone can do it.  Anyone who wanted to start cleaning up plastic could make a living by manufacturing the chairs.

Plastic Sample 2_Blue

Top: large items of plastic pollution, Middle: plastics broken down in the ocean, Bottom: molded chair seat of reclaimed ocean plastic

Studio Swine has published a manual for the Open Source Sea Chair.  Anyone with a camp stove and a few other simple tools could make the chair, bringing a DIY ethic to the project.  In this way, The Sea Chair could be a job creater.  The concepts could revive the fishing industry in many coastal communities.  Fishing boat owners could convert their fishing ships to become garbage trawlers.  They could pull the garbage out of the water and mold the chairs on board.  The chairs could then be floated over the side of the boat as the boat returned to shore.

The Sea Chair Tools_1

These simple implements produce the molded parts, and then you just screw the legs on.

All in all, I think this is a fascinating project.  I wish the team good luck!!