Emphasis on sustainability & reducing waste at Grand Designs Live

London’s ExCeL saw the return of Grand Designs Live from 5 – 13 May, with the show focusing on encouraging consumers and self-builders to reduce their wastage and look at innovative, eco-friendly alternatives to products.

On 9 May, face of the Grand Designs brand Kevin McCloud guided press around some of the show’s key features, including his selected Green Heroes and ‘The Cockroach’. McCloud then chaired a panel discussion on the main stage that focused on the reuse of plastic.

Welcoming various journalists to the show McCloud explained how they had implanted a zero plastic policy this year – any plastic products such as coffee cup lids and cutlery had been replaced with biodegradable alternatives.

He commented:

“Consumers feel that they have to bear all the responsibility and all the weight of recycling plastics at home, but there are responsibilities right through the supply chain – from big waste companies to manufacturing plants to designers,”

McCloud also talked through some of his chosen Green Heroes, which included a sheet material made from recycled plastics, eco-friendly coffee logs and a natural mushroom insulation product, among others.

“Right from the start I felt very strongly that the Green Heroes should be products, ideas and people who are under-represented in the market”

He said:

“It isn’t enough for a green product simply to be low carbon, or recycled, or recyclable – it has to be all these things but moreover it has to stand its ground compete with commercial products and succeed and win because it’s more beautiful, it’s more interesting, it has a greater value.”

Harry Dwyer’s ‘The Cockroach’ was the next stop – a pedal-powered motor home build from 100 per cent recycled materials such as ‘for sale’ signs and tanking membranes.

Dwyer explained:

“It was basically what we could find in skips, so it evolved as we found more things,”

Solar panels on its roof power a mobility scooter battery and it includes an area fit for two people to sleep in along with a gas stove and TV powered by old laptop batteries.

Summing up what projects such as The Cockroach demonstrate, McCloud said:

“What we’ve got to stop doing is thinking about the waste stream as second best and start realising that it’s capable of generating for us very bespoke, very high tech and very high performance products. It’s all there to be extracted, squeezed out and reused.”

Finally McCloud chaired the talk ‘Plastic Surgery – Reducing Plastic Pollution’, which saw comment and insight given by James Shaw of James Shaw Studio, Vanessa Yuan of ecoBirdy, Adam Fairweather of Smile Plastics and Craig Bennett of Friends of the Earth. The discussion challenged consumers to be more aware of the products they buy both day to day and for their homes. Shaw, Yuan and Fairweather showcased how their businesses create products from plastic waste, while Bennett and McCloud explained why they think the Government should introduce tighter legislation surrounding waste and recycling to make it easier for consumers.