Week 11 Lecture & Resources
Thoughts on Resources & Lecture
Graffiti as Public Art
This is an interesting art project I came across in the Leith area of Edinburgh, which aims to highlight and encourage discussions around the topic of women feeling safe in communal spaces. It has only appeared in very recent times, so I think this is a direct response to the conversations around women’s safety in public areas after the murder of Sarah Everard.
“No music on a dead planet” – A slogan t-shirt designed by Peter Saville, a twist on well-known Joy Division album cover art, as a commentary on the climate emergency.
Face Masks: Reuse versus single use
ReWorked is a company that believes in a circular economy – they take waste or recycled products from waste and re-introduce them back into the supply chain, or manufacture bespoke products such as furniture. Addressing the issue of single use face masks specifically, they said:
“A rise in single-use PPE litter due to the pandemic has been a significant area of concern, with serious environmental effects of discarded masks becoming an unforeseen side-effect of Covid-19. An estimated 129 billion face masks are used globally every single month.”
Littering in Galashiels
For this week’s workshop challenge, I chose to continue exploring ideas in an attempt to address the issue of littering in Galashiels, following on from the service design brief I set myself last week.
When walking around my local area, I started to take note of any litter I encountered. On one particular day, I took a walk along a short stretch of the Gala Water, the river that runs through the town, and photographed the debris I saw. Even covering this brief distance of around 500m, I was dismayed at just how much rubbish I found: everything from (bagged!) dog litter, discarded single-use face masks, takeaway food containers (left on the ground, barely 5 metres away from the nearest waste bin). On the river bank and even in the water itself, I observed sweet packet wrappers, aluminium cans and used soft drinks bottles and plastic carrier bags.
I also reached out to a volunteer-run group called the Gala Waterways Group, who organise regular river clean-ups to find out more about their work and to ask their views on the issue of littering in Galashiels.
Below is some information and feedback I received from Alastair, a member of the Gala Waterways Group:
“We have monthly work parties which generally clear vegetation or clear rubbish. Clearing vegetation can involve coppicing willows to allow a view of a weir in the Gala Water, or clearing saplings and brambles from a riverside path. Any litter found will be removed. The rubbish clearance can involve clearing litter from the banks or bed of the Gala Water, local burns and the Mill Lade. We have cleared litter from a riverside drinking den underneath a bridge. We weigh the bin-bags of rubbish we collect, and list bigger un-bagged items. Unfortunately our running-total is a very uncertain since we collected 3-4 tonnes of scrap metal from the bed of the Gala Water in 2018.
“Littering is a problem in Galashiels, as in many towns. We have had problems with supermarket trolleys being thrown in the Gala Water, but the problem has reduced since Tesco is more conscientious about collecting trolleys near the Gala Water which passes their supermarket. Also the closure of pubs and nightclubs [due to COVID-19] has reduced the number of drunks who might otherwise throw the trolleys in the Gala Water. I think the lack of drunks has also reduced the (appalling) littering of takeaway packaging on the steps from High Street Car Park up to Gala Park Court.
“Recruitment is a real problem. We advertise our work on Facebook and get mentions in the local newspapers, but only attract 5-10 volunteers from a population of 14,000. I think Melrose, a [nearby] prosperous town of 2,000 people, four miles away, can get 200 people turning out. We have had the occasional family attend our work parties and Spring Cleans, but need to do more to attract people to our events, especially younger people.”
Developing my ideas for the Service Design project
Discussions in the group crit session got me thinking that one method of engaging an audience on the topic of littering could be through the use of an educational, but fun, app or interactive game. It could help to teach people to understand the direct effect that discarding litter irresponsibly can have on their environment and the local wildlife – depending on the approach, this could be targeted at younger generations or all ages.
I discovered a company called Tinybop, who develop apps that help children learn about STEM subjects. They created an interactive app called The Earth, which covers aspects of geography and geology, as well as educating on conservation – kids aged 4 and up are encouraged to preserve forests, clean up beaches and learn about sources of clean energy.
Another option could be to create a simple app that acts as a hub for information about conservation, littering and the local environment in one place. This might include advice on recycling, a section explaining the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (a national countryside code), how to contact relevant organisations, and provide a space for educating the public.
Facing up to the Challenge
After some thought, and a discussion with Stuart on how to make an impact with my service design project within a short space of time, I realised that one thing I could do was to design some re-usable fabric face masks. Masks are so ubiquitous now due to the coronavirus pandemic and I have seen so many single-use masks discarded without a thought given to the consequences of that action, for example the effect on the environment and local wildlife.
I started to sew my own DIY cotton face coverings last summer due to COVID-19, so that I could reduce my own impact on the environment, minimise the amount of waste going to landfill, as well as saving resources (and money). I decided to put my crafting skills to use and also made some for friends and family.
As a natural development of this idea, I recognised that one way to address the issue of people disposing of non-reusable face masks is to create some with a visible message. It feels very current and a simple way to express an idea with real immediacy. The fabric of the mask, sitting close to eye level, is an easy way to get people’s attention.
Reflection on the week
This week’s group crits were (as ever) a useful opportunity to share my work, get feedback and also to gain an insight to the projects others are producing. Romina told us about Play the City – a multidisciplinary practice that uses gamification to bring people from different backgrounds together to explore solutions to issues around the development of cities.
An issue that was also raised within the group crit this week was the fact that it can be extremely challenging to attempt to change people’s behaviour and while working on a service design project with a short timescale, it may be more effective to speak to people, groups or organisations who already engage in some way with the issue that you are trying to address.
Apple App Store. ‘The Earth by Tinybop.’ Available at https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/the-earth-by-tinybop/id1001247878 [accessed 26/04/2021]
BANKSY. 2001. Banging your head against a brick wall. N.p.: Weapons of Mass Distraction.
Music Declares Emergency. ‘No Music on a Dead Planet.’ Available at https://musicdeclares.net/ [accessed 27/04/2021]
Play the City. Available at https://www.playthecity.eu/ [accessed 25/04/2021]
ReWorked. ‘WILKO launches the UK high-street’s first face mask recycling scheme.’ Available at https://www.reworked.com/2021/04/13/wilko-launches-the-uk-high-streets-first-face-mask-recycling-scheme/ [accessed 08/05/2021]
Scotland’s Environment. ‘Gala Waterways Group.’ Available at https://www.environment.gov.scot/get-involved/project-finder/gala-waterways-group/ [accessed 26/04/2021]
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Available at https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/ [accessed 26/04/2021]
Tinybop. Available at http://tinybop.com/ [accessed 25/04/2021]
Zero Waste Scotland. ‘Face It: Reuse Beats Single-Use.’ Available at https://wasteless.zerowastescotland.org.uk/facecoverings [accessed 18/04/2021]