The Hunt for Sustainable Materials

The Hunt for Sustainable Materials

Charlie Bradley Ross Thursday, 19 March 2015

Trying to be an ethical designer working with sustainable materials can be tough. You've come up with a brilliant eco design concept and are ready to get going... but, hang on, how do you go about sourcing the materials? At Offset Warehouse we bridge one gap, providing ethical fabrics and trimmings, but often that's only one piece of the puzzle...

What if you fancy some recycled wood for your interior decor project or you want to know where best car boot sales or flea markets to source materials for upcycling?

Let me introduce RE-search Map, a great project aimed to make this sort of searching a little bit easier. This is what Performance Design and Practice tutor at Central Saint Martins, Gary Campbell, had to say about his creation, RE-search Map.

A new way to find my #sustainable #design materials! #ZeroWaste #Renew #Sourcing

So Gary, what is RE-search?

RE-search is a collaborative map where you can search for sustainable materials. Using google maps I upload information about markets, car boots, second hand and vintage stores where my students might be able to source interesting materials, costumes and props for their projects.

It also lists sustainable and ethically minded organisations where innovative projects and initiatives are workshopped.

Sourcing Sustainable Materials

What inspired you to start the project?

I started RE-search in an attempt to embed sustainability into the curriculum on the Foundation course, sharing my knowledge of these resources and encouraging students and other staff to add their own. I wanted to introduce my students, some of whom have just arrived in London, to alternative suppliers and resources, so they didn't become reliant on the college shop.

Sourcing Sustainable Materials

How does it work?

There are a few ways you can add to the project. If you know of a great source for reclaimed or sustainable produced materials you can add it directly adding to the google map on the website or by sending the information through to me at [email protected].

If you have found out about an event, or read an article that is of interest you or just seen a load of great stuff on the street and can't possibly use it all yourself then you can tweet about it @REsearchbooty

Initially it was aimed at my Foundation students studying Performance design and practice but I had always imagined it would be useful for the other courses at Central Saint Martins and in fact for most artist designers.


How has it been going so far?


As for positive results from interactions with the site, the performance design curriculum area on the foundation have incorporated use of the site in their most recent project and most of the materials sourced for these projects was reclaimed. One student, Gina Martin, found a great armchair and dismantled it to use in her costume, she made a brick wall skirt out of the padding (see the photo above).

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 11.06.49

We have also made some productive site visits to some of the locations found on the map as you can see in the "Mudlarking on the Thames" entree - shown above.

Apart from that, I've been excited by the discovery of new sustainable materials such as fungi insulation - literally growing your own walls, and pineapple leather!


Gary's concept is very new and is working well so far, but the more people who get involved the more sucessful it will be! So whatever you find, get adding to his map and sharing sustainable material sourcing. Also, if you are a bit of a technical whizz, Gary would love someone to help turn the concept into an app! Brilliant idea.

If you like these articles, then please do sign up to our monthly newsletter, where I round up all the latest posts. You can tweet the article using the tweet buttons throughout the article and below.

I'm getting involved with the RE-search map! @REsearchbooty