My good friend and food designer Elsa Yranzo invited me as a speaker to the past edition of La Imperfecta Belleza. She has been creating wonderful food concepts for my masterclasses during the past three years, and since she always has very interesting projects going on, I would say Yes to any proposal knowing it combines creating awareness & beauty.
Today I’d like to share what La Imperfecta Belleza is about and my thoughts from a trends perspective when discussing the world of plastics, its use and how we can cater adequately a first conversation.
La Imperfecta Belleza is the brainchild of Elsa Yranzo and Marina Senabre, both started this project as an initiative to create awareness, visibility and rethink our consumption habits. All editions come along with an exhibition, food installation, printed publication (see images below) and a talk. This edition was all about plastics and this often transparent second skin that surrounds everything (with a special focus on food).
In terms of plastics, there is still much to learn, nobody has final answers and information about the magnitude of the plastic overconsumption right now, however it is important to start a debate the sooner the better, and moreover, to educate.
I don’t mean to tackle all plastic relevant issues in this post, I am not an expert, but I’d like to share a few consumer behaviour signals I have gathered during the past 12 month attending myself conferences on the topic, and we created a complex Micro Trend for our last Trend Report Spring/Summer 2019 that would address WATER, the state of the oceans and its pollution.
As a result of the widespread media information, many designers, brands, non-profit organisations are sharing designs and projects where water as a source of information is involved. Despite the seriousness of the topic, is a beautiful trend, which would lead me to
THOUGHT NO.1 – BEAUTY
This is not a plastics-only related opinion, but could easily refer to all non-sustainable materials creating too much waste. In previous years, we assumed that recycled products look raw, unfinished, and therefore ‘green’. It was not about the aesthetics but the context. I believe, the design and beauty of the product has become as important as the fact itself that we are doing good by consuming/purchasing sustainable product contributing to a smaller eco footprint.
A recycled or sustainable plastic product should not only do good, but look good. It has to be desirable.
My recommendation would be to combine education (=creating awareness) with beauty (=creating desire). Sustainability should not be in conflict with style. An increasing number of creatives and brands already offer designs that many people would like to purchase, wear and use for a decoration purpose because of its beauty.
You can see how Adidas collaborates with Parley for the Oceans making a great sneaker (with an even better storytelling), smaller workshops such as Happen Stance based in London who offers a small and very eye-candy edition of recycled plastic bowls (they run workshops too so you can create your own), fashion giants such as H&M present fabrics based on a 100% regenerated nylon fibre from fish nets.
Sustainable designs are already and should not be in conflict with a stylish design (for those who are seeking for it).
But beauty is not the only driver that might convince us to buy recycled plastic products:
THOUGHT NO.2 – GUILT-FREE
We very much respond to how we are informed. We all know by now, we have too much stuff.
In more than one occasion when going shopping, we might feel guilty or at least ask ourselves whether accumulating material possessions will really help ease the bore or frustration. Retail therapy, once considered as a mood booster, is getting questioned today and starts being observed by a few raising both eyebrows. If in addition, the news we are receiving on how much we contribute to pollute our planet act as a guilt trigger, chances are high we will become insensitive at a certain point.
Guilt only is never the best driver to educate and create awareness. Facts and numbers are important, they create reliability and a serious base to start a discussion. Let me share a great quote by Frederikke Magnussen, one of the founders of Plastic Planet with you.
We are all plastic addicts. We have all created this plastic pollution disaster together. This is not a time for finger-pointing. We have sleepwalked into this self-made nightmare and we now need to fast-track out of it. Together. We call for collaboration between all supermarkets, brands and industry. Let us not just consider competitive advantage but open source alle new solutions so we can work together to accelerate the pace of essential change.- Frederikke Magnussen
My point is if we tackle this topic towards a moment of opportunity showing what has been done so far, and how we can get much better contributing, instead of sharing only negativity, then we are one step closer. How?
THOUGHT NO.3 – ALTERNATIVES
I would everyone encourage to ask for alternatives. We are plastic addicts, yes, and I don’t think we will stop using plastics easily. But if a supermarket offers to buy fruit and vegetable in a paper bag, we might we surprised how many consumers would happily change their habits.
If they don’t run an alternative program yet, ask for it at the cash or the responsible of the supermarket. It might be a good idea to do so in the hospitality industry, too. And any other industry you have a word to say as a client. Brands get sensitive when they realise this is not a Gen Z thing, but the idea, desire, claim of seeing alternatives spreads over all generations.
If the different industries are not offering alternatives, it is hard, if not impossible to reduce our plastic consumption.
We saw a couple of wonderful projects and alternatives at La Imperfecta Belleza which I’d like to share:
We are Sorbos was presented during the panel talk by its founder Victor Sanchez who has invented the world first and (to date) only aromatic and edible straw. The starting point for this project was the fact that straws are one of the most polluting objects you find at our beaches and in the sea (besides plastic bottles and taps). Today We are Sorbos has been selling more than 1,5 million units in little more than 18 month, thanks to its innovative approach.
The glasses you see on the previous two images are made by Lucirmas, one of the world’s most renown restaurants close to Barcelona. Lucia has been collaborating with Celler Can Roca who aims to be a Zero Waste restaurant having installed a workshop at their facilities that recycles all kind of materials that become trash by the end the day. You can read more about RocaRecicla and her collab here.
Ph: Carla del Toro
I hope we will have much more initiatives as this one, start a conversation, listen to conversations, feel responsible for our environment even if this is from a small-scale and personal perspective, be curious and eager to learn. Thanks for having me, Elsa and Marina!