I hate waste. Especially waste that you can’t recycle. Did you know that the coloured tops from plastic milk cartons shouldn’t go in some recycling bins? Even though plastic recycling is improving, there are so many pesky items that still end up in landfill. Luckily there are clever people out there, like Maria, who have found an amazingly creative solution to that problem. Just take a look.
Hello! I am Maria, a Greek girl living in the UK for years now – it has become my home. I currently live in London designing and making things from my spacious studio room! In this post I am super excited to share with you my passion for upcycling colourful plastic bits from packaging that cannot be recycled and my upcycled jewellery brand Plastic Seconds!
It all started when I fell in love with a box filled with plastic bottle tops. I had recently graduated from a Fine Art degree at the University of Edinburgh. I had a flatmate who was brilliantly thorough when it came to sorting out our recycling. He made sure we removed all the plastic that couldn’t be recycled, which included the tops from plastic bottles. I have to admit that until that time I was not aware that some plastic could not be recycled.
For no particular reason we didn’t immediately throw away all these non-recyclable bits and pieces, but rather, collected them in a separate large box. Over time, its contents became a wondrous, kaleidoscopic mass of colours and exciting shapes I could not ignore. I started playing around with them and quite naturally the objects emerging were jewellery pieces and body adornments. Since I was a little girl, costume, fashion and dressing up excited me and I would spend hours fixing my mother’s broken jewellery or sketching dresses on pretty ladies.
This playful experimentation, and the positive feedback I had from friends as well as strangers, led to creating my jewellery brand Plastic Seconds. Gradually I started noticing more and more the beautiful forms of various elements from packaging and in my mind’s eye all sorts of found objects, of no more use, became rings, necklaces and earrings. I still remember clearly my excitement when I first really noticed the elegant curves and fascinating shape of the base of a plastic shampoo bottle.
At first, my jewellery pieces were created from the remnants of things I consumed as well as every little bit of interesting packaging that I noticed left behind by others. To this day, if I see a plastic bottle with a colourful lid and plastic neck ring left on an empty neighbouring table in a café, I will unashamedly go over and remove both with childish satisfaction. Friends and family would also increasingly join in the fun and collect things for me.
As Plastic Seconds grew, more and more people I knew joined enthusiastically in the collection process. For instance, my colleagues at my job now regularly bring in bags of things they have collected for me to use. Once they saw the unique way in which I combine upcycled plastic objects in my designs and the fact that I could turn things they customarily threw away into beautiful jewellery, their own imagination and curiosity, in terms of what they could pass on to me instead of discard, opened up. This has led to an extremely joyful and fulfilling process of mutual discovery and collaboration of sorts.
Plastic Seconds pieces bring back a child-like fascination for the ordinary for both the wearer and the observer – seeing something ordinary in a new context and so noticing it, as if for the first time. I also make a conscious effort to make use of a lot of non recyclable packaging elements – such toothpaste tube lids, pen lids, soy sauce containers from take away sushi packs etc – that I have not seen used in jewellery making before. My favorite part about Plastic Seconds is the moment I see something and start imagining it as jewellery and so entertain myself. I also love the fact that wearing Plastic Seconds makes the wearer and the beholder smile and that people connect through conversation about an unusual jewellery piece.
I’m always looking for new ways to serve my customers and offer them unique pieces they feel a personal connection with. As a result I recently created a service called ‘co-cREations’, available from my website, which takes the idea of playful collaboration, described above, a step further. The service includes a pre-paid collection envelope, with suggestions, which can be filled in one’s own time and is sent back to me. I then create a completely one-off piece using only contents from this envelope. The suggestions on the envelope help participants start to look around their environment more consciously and the hope is that through taking part in this process, they will then notice the potential of ‘rubbish’ more easily. Creating a well-balanced, interesting design from the contents of one envelope is also a welcome challenge for me and it pushes my creativity.
Recently, I have started organising and leading Plastic Seconds workshops during which I show attendees how they can use little plastic non recyclable bits that they find. This gives me a lot of satisfaction as I cannot possibly salvage all this beautiful plastic by myself. I also adore witnessing people find their inner child as they start to play around with all the colours and the shapes of the collected pieces I bring along. The possibilities are endless. It has been an honour and a pleasure to hold some of these workshops at different branches of the amazing charity TRAID. They run a plethora of really great DIY and upcycling workshops as part of their events calendar and more Plastic Seconds Upcycled Jewellery Workshops will be coming up!
My mission is to salvage as many little interesting looking packaging elements as possible from going in the bin and I cannot wait to see you join in!
And your opportunity might be here sooner than you think! One lucky reader will win a Plastic Seconds ‘co-cREations’ service! Head over to the Offset Warehouse Instagram, or click the instagram post below and just like and comment on the post!
I’ve been a huge HUGE fan of @plasticseconds for years, and today, none other than the founder herself @missmariapapadimitriou, has graced the Sew Obsessed blog with a beautifully inspiring article. If you’re lacking a little inspiration this morning, head on over and have a read. PLUS just comment on this instagram post to win the most INCREDIBLE prize: A bespoke, handmade piece of jewellery, part of Plastic Second’s amazing “co-creations” service!