The Future of Sustainable Materials
by Nicky Spear
“We recently had the pleasure of meeting with Megan at the UWE Graduation show for Product Design at the Frenchay Campus in Bristol, she was full of enthusiasm for building a world with sustainable materials, something we are also very passionate about. Her project was very inspiring and we asked her is she’d like to share her project & ideas with our community, so we can all learn about product developments within sustainable materials”
Nicky Spear – Managing Director of Sustainable Kitchens
A Research Project from Megan Stuart (BSc) Creative Product Design
Megan sporting earrings made from her grandma’s old whisk
As our company mission is to Inspire a sustainable lifestyle we are always researching ideas and products for sustainable living and eco-friendly design. This lead us to the UWE Graduation Show for Product Design which was very inspiring, where we had the pleasure of meeting great students with fantastic ideas & innovations. This is where we came across Megan Stuart who is pushing boundaries when it comes to creative product design that centre around the principles of sustainability and earth-friendly materials.
Megan says, “ I have a desire to create products that have as little impact, or that lessens the impact that we have on our planet. This has often led me to experimenting with interesting materials. Whether these are unconventional for the particular application or are in their second life and undergo some sort of transformation for the product. Fundamentally, I enjoy the story or meaning behind a material and what this can add to the product.”
Megan recently graduated in Creative Product Design and her studies have allowed her to explore these principles in depth. For her final year project, she began to explore the design applications of waste ground coffee. The initial drive for the project, came from looking at the mounds of tea bags, or ‘tea bag towers’ the students had built in their student digs. Something we use every day, but perceive as having only one use could actually be utilised to create something else.
Megan began researching and chatting to various cafes in Bristol, and it became apparent that the largest source of this ‘single use’ bio waste was coffee grounds. Several cafes were happy to provide the coffee grounds to Megan and after creative experimenting, she came up with a composite material which she called ‘It Has Bean’. The material is made entirely from waste coffee grounds and waste PLA coffee cup lids, all waste products of the coffee café industry.
The material has a pleasing organic ‘wabi sabi’ quality and a mild smell of coffee. During experiential studies users said the material made them feel homely and was inviting to touch.
For her project, Megan developed a takeaway cup holder and a series of vessels for use in cafes. It seemed relevant, and completed the circle nicely, that the material should be put to use back in its place of origin.
Megan, however, see the benefits of the material being utilised elsewhere in future.
The organic aesthetic would make for lovely tiles or kitchen worktops. The low impact of manufacturing the material, and vast abundance of waste coffee grounds and cup lids makes the material a sustainable choice for many applications.
To keep up with Megan’s creative projects, make sure you follow her on instagram.