Chapter 1 – Literature ReviewIn order to investigate the evolution of the circular economy this chapter will discuss the historical impact of the capitalist model on the dwindling planetary resources. The consequence of landfill and the emerging circular system of new materials in response to the question of sustainability and our ecological awareness will also be explored. The theory of extractivism, removing planetary minerals to make products or create energy to fuel economic growth will be discussed. In the 1950’s global warming was declared to be the result of burning fossil fuels (Klien, 2016). Klien also stated:There have been many new zero-waste designs and other low carbon lifestyle experiments over the last two decades, and we have the technical tools to remove ourselves from fossil fuels. Harnessing the renewable sources of planetary resources; such as, wind and water which predated the fossil fuels (Klien, 2016, pp.
4 ). Therefore, we have the ability to produce energy that does not require the burning of fossil fuels. Dr Tim Ball (2016) highlights how the science is wrong and the CO2 levels on the planet are dangerously low. Therefore, the planetary cycles, and in particular plant life, could be damaged further if CO2 was reduced (Ball, 2016). McDonough and Braungart (2009, pp.
103) stated: There are two discrete metabolisms on the planet. The first is the biological metabolism or biosphere, the cycles of nature. The second is the technical metabolism, or technosphere the cycles of industry including the harvesting of technical materials from the natural places.
Revealing how the planetary system is closed, and the basic elements are invaluable and limited; therefore, all we have and whatever humans create, does not leave the system. Society has to remove the concept of waste (McDonough and Braungart, 2009). Products should follow an evolutionary path, where the materials are biodegradable, including packaging, feed the biological system, or the materials should stay within a closed technological system of industry (McDonough and Braungart, 2009). The idea of landfill and burying our rubbish into the earth must be removed (McDonough and Braungart, 2009). Therefore, removing the consciousness of waste. Sweden has sent less than 1% of household waste to landfill consecutively since 2011 (Sheffield, 2016). Sweden employ excellent procedures for dealing with waste, they import waste from other countries; who transport their waste to Sweden to avoid landfill charges (Sheffield, 2016).
Gripwall (2016) discussed how there has been a successful cultural shift in Sweden, largely due to their connection to the natural environment and awareness of environmental issues (cited in Sheffield, 2016). Sweden incinerates waste to generate heat for buildings. Alter (2016) argued, incinerating waste is not recycling, and therefore Sweden does not recycle 99% of its waste as claimed by the Swedish government (cited in Tree Hugger). Therefore, Sweden is actually burning nutrients that could be re-used. This line of thought process would seem to be part of the historical model of the industrial revolution and be contributing to increasing air pollution. The United Kingdom (UK) has worked towards meeting an EU target set to reduce the proportion of waste to 50% by 2020. In 2014 the UK peaked at around 45% of recycled waste (Sheffield, 2016).Some changes have been made; legislation and taxation of landfill is bringing about reconsideration to the current model.
Glass recycling was introduced in Plymouth during 2016. In the first three months, the collection of 995 tons of glass saved the council £23,400 in landfill and disposal charges. (Vincent, 2014 cited in Plymouth Newsroom, 2014). The Chartered Institute of Waste Management (2017, pp.1) states that society is moving away from the “take make and dispose mentality towards a circular economy”. On their website, they predict that this will have an impact on almost all businesses involved within the resource and waste sector.
As well as dealing with waste, there are also monetary issues to discuss. Chapman (2015. pp.
166) stated The current model of capitalism is based on a pre-industrial revolution worldview dating back almost 200 years, in which quantity of production equates to the quality of human life and the wellbeing of society. Consumerism emerged, attaching value to things which equated to our own value of self. The capitalist belief system, which underpins the manufacturing and production methodology, does not take into account the future of humanity and what kind of planet we will experience (Chapman, 2015). The logic behind the capitalist model has been disproved; the deteriorating biosphere has placed the future of humanity in the balance (Klein, 2015).
The economics of the capitalist model does not consider sustainability or ecological limits, Klein (2016, pp. …) states ” What has become clear is; toxic waste, depleted resources and global warming are a result of this system, and the industrial revolution as we know it is not sustainable”. Therefore, we cannot continue to cause damage to the biosphere without impacting our own future experience upon the earth. Chapman (2015) discusses how we will effect change through a new economic model that will relate to the planetary sustainability through a shift in consciousness. Chapman (2015, pp.168) stated “the creation of sustainable brand values and the positive associations that they foster within environmentally aware consumers.
” Therefore, it is recognised that through awareness, sustainability and ecology have become concerns for some consumers who are now making conscious decisions when purchasing goods. Subsequently, to a great extent, becoming a driving force of the new emerging economic model.Pentatonic is predominantly a furniture company who make everything from trash; creating a circular model. Pentatonic (no date, pp. 2) stated “we exist to reduce this poisonous glut. To use human ingenuity and conscious consumerism to design our way out of this looming disaster.” Also, Pentatonic (no date) highlights an important issue of taking a lifetime responsibility for everything it makes. All products are made from singular materials not hybrids, and welcome the return of products which they will then reuse.
Pentatonic have learned, through 15 years of research, how to effectively transform trash into desirable new products and materials (See Figure 1). Everything has a product identification number used to track the life cycle. Pentatonic (no date) know what trash was used, where and when it was made, the batch and who owned it. Figure 1 – Bottle cushion and Smart-Phone Glasses (no date)In the corporate plan, Plymouth Council are exploring ways to achieve efficiency within the community in respect of the environment. At their DATA Play Conference, A Sense of Place (2017), a keynote speaker Mike Phillips discussed the possibilities of art as a catalyst to create change.
The equation, Arts+SciencexTechnology= Environmental Responsibility, was the key theme. Therefore, implying that a collaboration across the disciplines is required in order to introduce successful outcomes. DATA Play (2017) stated “A Sense of Place aims to provoke discussion, reflection and action to address the imminent social, economic and cultural impact of climate change”.
The ideas of a labelling system for craft items was introduced by Sarah Mann during a keynote speech at the Making Futures Conference (2017). A labelling system was discussed further by James Tooze (2017) in the ‘Lifecycles of the Material Worlds’ sustainability plenary session. In the presentation relating to the furniture manufacturing industry, Tooze (2017) discussed a passport system which could start at the point when the tree was felled and continue to be updated. This passport would accompany the final product so the consumer could be aware of the journey the material made and the making process. However, the labelling system does not address the main issues around sustainability and ecological factors because trees take a long time to grow, and they have a function within the natural cycles as does the ocean; trees are the lungs of the earth (Abbott, 2011). Other alternative crops such as bamboo and hemp can be grown very quickly and more widely in a sustainable way; and could therefore be used in manufacture. A possible resistance within the world of craft to evolve within the economic shift towards a circular economy would seem to be emerging and the need for collaboration could be the answer. Chapter 2 – Methods and EthicsThis chapter will discuss the ethics and research methods chosen to gain information, from practicing artists and consumers, about their thoughts and behaviours relating to sustainability and ecological awareness.
Both qualitative and quantitative research methods have been adopted to gain information specifically from practicing artists and consumers (Silverman, 2001). There are a variety of qualitative methods; observation, analysing text and documents, interviews and recording, and transcribing (Silverman, 2001). However, for the current research, the qualitative information was mainly pursued through interview; the analysis of text created the link to a specific interviewee.
Also, the quantitative data came from questionnaires; Artist and Consumer (See Appendix A, B). Robson (2002, pp. 28) stated, “a quantitative questionnaire is instrumental in the interest of better marketing and increased sales and to find out something about what is going on in society today”. In other words, quantitative approach gains perspectives from precise areas of society, a target or people involved in the area being surveyed.
Thus being “a selection of representative samples of individuals from known populations” (Robson, 2002, pp. 230). Questionnaires were the most appropriate method to reach a wider audience, allowing participant’s time to consider their answers; however, it does mean there is a low response rate and this affects the quantity of research (Robson, 2002). Questionnaires were chosen instead of a focus group in order to gain the views of the individuals; thus, avoiding “group dynamics or power hierarchies that can affect who speaks and what they say” (Robson, 2002, pp. 284). The questions aimed to gain practical knowledge from artists regarding sustainability in a studio practice, and to gain a better understanding of consumer desire. Is there a shift towards sustainably made craft items? How can this then be applied in order to create a successful sustainable craft practice that meets consumer desire? The questionnaires were anonymous and accompanied by an explanatory letter (See Appendix C). Anonymity is important so the participants can make their feelings and perspectives known with freedom of speech, rather than the fear of being judged at a later date (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005).
The artists were selected on the basis they were either ceramic or glass artists, and their contact information came from business cards collected from various events and studios visited over the last year. The consumer questionnaires were given to members of the general public, including the authors family to distribute at their place of work; the selection being general and not targeted to any particular age or gender. The Consumer questionnaire specifically focussed on the purchase of glass and ceramics, and if there is any consideration to sustainability when goods are purchased. Participant’s attitude to waste and their responsibility towards ecological factors were also an interest.
The questions were both open and closed, designed to identify consumer awareness on the subject of sustainability and ecological factors (Cohen, et al. 2000). As a result of the low 10% response rate to the artist questionnaire, it was deemed necessary to gain a qualitative perspective from a practising artist through the process of interview. An unstructured and informal interview allowed for an open and honest discussion regarding the issues and compromises that develop personally when there is a desire to make and be sustainable in practice (Robson, 2002) (See Appendix D). The specific artist was chosen due to her comment displayed on her website for ‘The Potting Shed’ surrounding sustainable practice. (MacGregor, no date pp. 1) stated “Richenda is committed to sustainable practice and wherever possible uses locally sourced and recycled materials. She is passionate about the creative process and in creating a hub for interactive learning, teaching traditional skills and researching into latest practice”.
Before the interview started, the interviewer reiterated ethics; the interview could be terminated at any time, and the interview data would be sent to the interviewee for approval before publication. It is key within all research to ensure ethical awareness and compliance (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005). The interviewee gave verbal consent for the interviewer to document an overview of the interview. The purpose of the interview was stated, to gain an understanding as to how the interviewee, as an artist, applied sustainability within her practice. The interview was unstructured and open, allowing the interviewee to discuss their experience of making within a sustainable practice without any influence from the interviewer. This was important for the body of research so the interviewee could choose what they disclosed about their practice (Robson, 2002).Further research was undertaken, questionnaires were sent to Reformed Glass, due to their ecological approach; “Glass with a green footprint” (Glass Reform, 2017, pp.
1) and Pentatonics (See Figure 1). Both these businesses are recycling waste material to create new products. Two key themes emerged from this process. The artist questionnaire revealed a lack of education in respect of sustainable practice and a desire to be more educated. Also, there was a hidden reality in respect of Reformed Glass, as the waste is first shipped abroad for processing.
Therefore, is this really glass, with a green footprint? These results will be expanded on in further analysis of the findings in Chapter 5. To expand on the interview of MacGregor a further investigation into other practicing sustainable artists was undertaken. Chapter 3 – Craft Artists and Sustainable PracticeThis chapter will explore the possibility of craft artists changing their approach to making, with a view to being sustainable. It will also discuss how the circular economy is emerging where products are created from waste; being fully sustainable and an alternative to natural extraction and therefore reducing the ecological impact of waste on the environment. Harrison (2013) discusses his desire to contribute to sustainable practice in ceramics across the globe through collaboration between experts in the field of ceramic studio practice. Harrison (2013) has collated information about sustainable practice in order to make this contribution. Binns states ‘ceramic artists should be exploring ways of embedding a more sustainable and environmentally responsible approach within their practice’ (cited in Harrison, 2013, pp.
71). The amount of waste from Binns studio practice, led him to undertaking a research project on recycling ceramic waste. The project involved developing a new material partly from studio waste (Harrison, 2013). Figure 2 – Binns (2010)) Ceramic Aggregate The new material, as a result of Binns (2010) research project, is sustainable and reduces the environmental impact from ceramic production.
The process of creation involves the mixture of ceramic glass and mineral studio waste; using moulds to enable the materials to fuse successfully. All waste from the process can be returned to the production, avoiding manufacturing waste, and at the end of life the product can be recycled back to make more; therefore, creating a circular system (Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), 2017). Binns project, The Aesthetics of Waste (2010) was a collaborative research project with Dr Alasdair Bremner. Fraga (2011), who agrees with Binns process in his scientific analysis and research paper, relating to the creation of ceramic tiles from waste clay and glass. Fraga concludes with the development of New Ecological Tiles. Therefore, evidencing that a traditional craft practice can be part of the emerging circular economy.Stoneville is a UK based supplier and manufacturer of natural stone tiles, slabs and bespoke products. Stoneville is an example of how the construction industry is exploring ways to be more sustainable and move away from the extraction methods of the past in order to continue providing architectural material.
Stoneville (no date pp. 3) states they are “The innovator of a technical and eco-friendly product made of 100% recycled glass which is a type of glass ceramic and an alternative to granite marble quartz and glass”. Figure 3 – StonevilleAs a result of this evidence, the possibility will now be explored within the educational system, to expand this awareness within the studio practice. Chapter 4 – Sustainability in Education This chapter will discuss the environmental impact of the ceramic and glass department at Plymouth College of Art (PCA), undertaking a comparison with Oregon University in relation to glaze waste. The installation of the glaze waste recycling system at Oregon University was the result of a dialogue between the staff in the Arts department and the community regarding the environmental impact of waste from the Arts department. Harrison, (2013, pp.
69) stated “For the past 10 years students have been creating paver blocks from recycled clay and the glaze waste system” (See Figure 4).