Friday, October 23, 2009

Part of history

Thank you everyone for your basket making magic and creativity. In less than a month, we have made hundreds of baskets and saved thousands of plastic bags from landfill and the sea.

Each one is a unique little beauty!

We will have the baskets on exhibition at The Sydney Opera House, as part of over 4,600 actions in more than 170 countries around the world.

October 24th is the international day of climate action, where people all over the world make their voices heard, calling on leaders to reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere to a safe level of 350 parts per million, and calling for a safe future.

It is the largest collective display of action to fight climate change the world has ever seen.

Find out more here and follow some of the amazing actions here on Twitter

Here's a picture of the baskets taken at Bondi Beach.

Thank you fellow gritters Julie, Rena, Floria, Bea, Sue, Kylie, Annie, Paula, Yumi, Tobhi, Sam, Bridget,  Taka, Bev, Melanie, Petrina, Vanessa, Finn, Lana, Scarlet, Pepe, Joe, Maya, Di, Harvey, Jackie, Sabrina, Sue, Jessika, Tom, Rachel, Dave, Phillip, Alison, Stefanie, Janos, Sacha, Kirsty, Martha, Sarah, Melanie, Roman, Lola, Piper, Jane, Judge, Sally, Imogen, Felix, Felicity, Kitty, Marti, Tess, Luke, Jo, Bambi, Melissa, Susie, Andre, Kate, Kaye and all the other brilliant Gritters.

We will let you know about where the exhibition will be going after the Opera House.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Knitty Gritty and Loopy action for

Today we had a fantastic and productive day making baskets. Old plastic bags, bread and fruit bags, newspaper and dry cleaning wrap, garbage bags, mattress bit of plastic was safe. Young and old, we wove, crocheted, knitted and plarned. There are 19 days to go until we exhibit our baskets at the Sydney Opera House for the international day of climate action.

There are 350 frisbees being thrown in Brisbane, 350 t-shirts being printed in Adelaide, scuba divers, surfers, skiers and lantern walkers all doing things to draw attention to the number that defines our future. 1,736 actions in 139 countries. For actions near you, have a look here. and to find out more about 350, have a look here

Come along to GreenUps on Tuesday night and join us in some live crafting action. Bring some old bags and needles. We have made 50 baskets ...300 to go.

We will also be making baskets together next Sunday and the following Sunday. Have a look here for details. You can also drop off your baskets to us on Tuesday night, Sunday or drop them into the Ivan Dougherty Gallery.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Knitty Gritty and Loopy for 350.

Last night we made more baskets from plastic bags, newspaper wrap, drycleaning bags and mattress cover bags. They were knitted, crocheted and woven, and each one has its own unique character and style.

Here are some pictures, including the before and after.

Please join us in making baskets for They're to be exhibited on the international day of Climate Change Action on October 24th. We've made 20...330 to go.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Making the invisible visible.

The ice in the Arctic is melting at a rate like never before. If you ever wanted to see photographs and live film of climate change before your eyes, have a look at this talk and the Extreme Ice Survey.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Age of Stupid

Age of Stupid is a brilliant movie that premiered in Sydney in August, and is released globally in over 45 cinemas and 550 cinemas on September 21st.

It shows the world in 2055, and looks at back at real news footage of 2008 in regards to what we are doing to the planet. Why didn't we stop climate change when we knew we could? Why didn't we save ourselves when we had a chance?

Hopefully we will all work hard at making changes now, so that future generations don't look back at us as the age of stupid.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

October Ups

Please come and join us at October GreenUps on October 6th, 6pm at The Beauchamp Hotel on the corner of Oxford and South Dowling Streets, Paddington. We will be on the roof deck, and will be celebrating Sustainable Art during the the Art and About Festival.

We will have a slide show from The Green Museum, and live plastic bag basket making. Bring some old bags or bits of plastic, some needles and scissors and craft up a storm with us.


In March this year, a group of us started GreenUps - green drinking to inspire green thinking.

GreenUps is a series of informal 'meet ups' aimed at inspiring people with an interest in the environment and sustainability. People can connect, learn, share, inspire and conspire with other like minded people.

We're part of an international movement of Green Drinks in more than 450 cities around the world.

Join up to our Facebook group for updates. We hope to see you at the next one. They are held on the first Tuesday of the month at different venues around Sydney.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Doing it for the kids

[re]design for London Design Week September 2009 looks great. The theme is Doing it for the kids.

Doing It For The Kids is an exhibition of sustainable play design. The project explores play types, the importance of play in child development, how toys help mould our kids’ values and how they impact on the environment. The exhibition will present examples of sustainable toys and other play resources that inspire designers, educators and parents to be more critical and creative.

Getting fungi

Fungi is an enigmatic and mysterious life form which is essential to the health of our planet. It infuses all landscapes, and can create an oasis of life. From a source of food to a powerful healing agent, fungi is a magician of air, earth and water.

Make your own fungus at the Fungiverse, and check out some of the amazing fungi facts at the end, including Paul Stamens fantastic TED talk on six ways mushrooms can save the world.


This Truckfarm could be a great idea for some of those huge cars you see driving around town.

Trees and Cradles

What is elegant?
Makes oxygen
Sequesters CO 2
Changes colour
Makes complex sugars and foods
Fixes nitrogen
Distills water
Creates micro climates
Self replicates

Then we knock it down and write on it?


Here is a Cradle to Cradle TED talk by the wonderful William McDonough

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I saw the great Bill McKibben speak when he was in Sydney earlier this year, and he delighted us with a visit to GreenUps to talk about

Here is a new interview on Treehugger radio.

They are a fantastic series of interviews, and I like to download them and listen them as I walk around the park.

Some other great ones are by Emily Pilloton on Project H, Edward Humes on Eco Barons, Adam Werbach from Saatchi and Saatchi S, Paul Watson - a modern pirate who is saving our seas, Daniel Goleman author of Emotional Intelligence, the people behind the amazing story of Crude ... the list goes on. Great listening and learning.

WOW. The Paraty House.

Have a look at this gorgeous house on Paraty Beach by Marcio Kogan Architects in Brazil.

Fresh Supplies

A novel way to grow food in your living room, this home farm will provide you with fresh fish, fruit and veg, and save on all those food miles.

This Biosphere home farm contains fish, crustaceans, algae, plants and other mini-ecosystems, all interdependent and in balance with each other. Making families all over the world at least partly self-sufficient in this way has obvious appeal.

A concept Food Probe by Philips Design in Eindhoven.


The Tokujin Yoshioka designed Pleats Please Issey Miyake store just opened in Aoyama, Tokyo.

It is a refurbishment of the existing store, and the walls and ceiling are covered in recycled aluminium panels, originally developed as parts for cars.

His work is so divine, it makes me swoon!

Green Pockets

These tiles designed by Maruja Fuentes are made from recycled materials, and you can add a bit of life and colour to an otherwise plain tiled wall.

They were designed to be used as planters for a wall display or covering, but the uses for these pockets are endless.

Flying Rubbish. Re-think, Re-cycle, Re-delight.

Artists words:

A strange kind of cleanliness and tidiness are the rules of society everyone has to obey. That’s why it is difficult for us to recognise the different possibilities of reuse that lay in used products or waste. Imagination is needed for an intelligent reuse of “rubbish”. Just by a new interpretation of the product, by a change of context “rubbish” can get a new function in the world of efficiency and become useful again. This kind of imagination is easier for children. For them there is also beauty in the rubbish. They discover easily alternative ways to use objects of daily life. So the aim is to combine the world of efficiency and the world of miracle! But is it possible to overlay the disgust and repulsion of waste with the joy and fun of the world of the children?

Weimar, Germany, December 2004: I sold rubbish bags filled with helium to the people visting the Christmas market. The “balloons” are a strange happening and afterwards helpful to carry the waste and garbage. Even so the bags were clean and not used it was difficult for adults to accept the new “prefunction”.

Holger Beisitzer.

CD Pavilion.

This is the Shanghai Corporate Pavilion being built for the Shanghai World Expo held next year designed by Atelier Feichang Jianzhu.

Its exterior is made from recycled CD cases (no doubt those counterfeits we usually see pictures of bulldozers going over, plus all the BPA filled polycarbonate bottles they can't sell).

Polycarbonates are thermoplastics that can be heated and reformed, and the architects suggest that when the show is over the whole thing can be melted down again.

The Pavilion also features a 1600m2 solar heat-collecting tube on the roof to provide electricity and water heating.

Moss Carpet

This is a biodegradable moss planter that was shown earlier this year at the Tokyo Fiber Senseware exhibition.

Japanese flower artist Makoto Azuma collaborated with Unitika and planted an assortment of mosses in a material called TERRAMAC, which is a biodegradable fiber that returns to the soil. The result is beautiful organic carpet.

Moss is a green carpet that keeps on living. It grows by absorbing moisture from the air with its whole body, not just through its roots. Even if it dries out and looks dead, its cells can recuperate when given water.

One of the characteristics of living things is that they spontaneously evolve continuing to be a part of nature.

Project H and the Hippo Roller

Project H started the Hippo Roller project in 2008, to make it easier to collect and distribute water. Instead of carrying 90 litres of water on their head, as they had been doing for hundreds of years, the Hippo Roller was designed to make life easier. Traditionally, women and children are responsible for collecting the water, so this simple invention has freed up their lives for education and other nice things.

1 in 6 people don't have access to running water, and for only $100 each, the Hippo Roller has transformed people's lives. All the kids at my daughter's kindergarten chipped in to buy one, which was nice.

Here's a great interview with Emily Pilloton, the inspiring founder of Project H. You can download it to listen to.


David de Rothschild is making a catamaran from waste plastic bottles, and sailing from San Francisco via the Great Pacific Garbage Dump to Sydney later this year. They should be arriving in Sydney in January. It is an amazing and inspiring project in so many ways.

Have a look at this great video where David is interviewed and talks about the philosophies and innovation behind the Plastiki adventure.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

There is a huge area in the Pacific ocean where all the plastic on the planet's seas have been collecting. It’s been described as the world’s biggest rubbish dump, and is estimated to be 15 million square kilometers wide and 10 metres deep.

It is the product of underwater currents, and brings together all the junk that accumulates in the Pacific ocean. It is believed that there are 100 million tons of plastic circulating - or about 2.5% of all plastic items made since 1950.

This patch of plastic sludge was discovered by chance in 1997, and is still growing. Imagine what the fish (and birds, and us) are eating. Almost every piece of plastic that has ever been made is still around today - except for some that has been burnt, and that releases terrible toxins into the air.

Have a look here if you'd like to see videos, photos, interviews and more. There are a quarter of a million sites to choose from!

Greenhouse by Joost

Earlier this year I visited the Greenhouse by Joost in Federation Square, Melbourne.

It was a wonderful example of design innovation, sustainability and education, and there was a great brochure that went through all the inspiration and process behind it. Joost had worked in hospitality for many years, and had created wonderful events, but was appalled by all the waste. Creating the Greenhouse from all recycled materials, and then leaving no 'footprint' was a fantastic example of what can be achieved. Innovative methods of construction that hadn't been done before were successfully tried, and the restaurant served produce that had been grown on the green roof.

There will now be a permanent Greenhouse in Perth.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 and the Knitty Gritty Loopers is a great organization started by Bill McKibben. For the last 600,00 years, there have been about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but since the industrial revolution, we have been polluting the atmosphere, and it is now about 390 parts per million.

We are on track to be at 450 ppm, which would mean a temperature rise of at least 2 degrees, which basically wipes out The Great Barrier Reef amongst many other things, and who knows what else will happen to the planet? We could only imagine (or try not to!)

350 parts per million is the number that top scientists, such as NASA's Jim Hansen recommend would keep the planet living safely.

On October 24th, there are worldwide events being organized to highlight and inform people about 350, so we can all act to reduce emissions before the numbers get too high.

A few friends and I have started up an arting/crafting group called Knitty Gritty and Loopy, and for the 350 project, we are making 350 baskets from plastic bags. Knitting, crocheting, weaving, fusing. We would love you to join us if you can. Have a look and please join up at our Facebook group to see how to make 'plarn' - plastic yarn from the bags, and other crafting, reusing, recycling, reinventing and repurposing ideas.

At the moment, the Australian government has basically committed to killing off the Great Barrier Reef, with targets of 450 ppm. Surely we can do better than this!

The Story of Stuff

This is a fantastic little film that shows the true costs of what we do. What are the real costs of that $4.99 radio, and how do they get it on the shelves for that price?

Space Talk

Last night I gave a talk at Space Furniture about Design Leading Sustainability.

Here are some of the sites people were interested in.

Chris Jordan is an amazing artists who shows a visual representation of statistics that are quite mind blowing. His Running the Numbers series
shows things like how many plastic cups and bottles we use, or how much electricity we wasted and how many trees we cut down every year for junk mail.

His intolerable beauty series is also spell binding. See more at

The good news can be found on his E. Pluribus Unum (The Many Become One) work from 2009, which is a gigantic mandala depicting the names of one million organizations around the world that are devoted to peace, environmental stewardship, social justice and the preservation of diverse and indigenous culture. A nice way of showing how we can join the dots.

Art of Possibility

Hello on lucky 09.09.09.

This is my Facebook group for designers, artists, architects and creative people who want to slow climate change and make the world a beautiful place.
There are hundreds of great sites and links posted and new ones added weekly. Scroll down and please add if you have some good ones relating to sustainability, environment, art, architecture or design issues.

NOTE: On October 1st 2009, a blind artist in America with a business called Art of Possibility tried to shut down my Art of Possibility group. Hopefully I will get it back on line. Years of research posted there ........