Exploring community data to ReThink ReMake ReCycle

As part of the UK pilot of ParCos, Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) has been working with people in Bristol to understand the scale and impact of household waste, and explore creative solutions to the problem. Together they’ve been gathering and analysing waste data, and sharing their tips and stories with others. 

Exploring Data

In November and December 2020, the team at KWMC The Factory (KWMC’s making and innovation space) worked with 48 people across 22 households to explore the kind of materials they throw away, and how they could design and create sustainable alternatives.

Participants of all ages took part in three ReThink ReMake ReCycle sessions – held online due to UK COVID-19 restrictions. These sessions mixed presentations and video content with group discussion, conversations in smaller ‘breakout’ rooms and using tools including digital whiteboards. Topics included:

1. How does waste affect our planet? 
2. Plastics – Exploring recycled and bio plastics 
3. Paper – Tackling waste through Design Thinking (with sustainable designer Lisa Cole)

In advance of the sessions, participants received a package of supplies including ingredients, tools and safety clothing to make ‘bioplastic’ pots out of pine resin; and fabric and sewing supplies to make reusable cloths. In addition, participants completed household waste audits so they could compare data as part of a community data set. 

The packages for participants

Sharing Stories

In March 2021, KWMC launched a free digital zine, which includes a range of tutorials, activities, stories and puzzles inspired by the workshops. The zine launch coincided with Global Recycling Day on Thursday 18 March 2021, an annual event organised by The Global Recycling Foundation. 

The zine was collated and created by university graduate Chelsea Galloway as part of a communications internship with KWMC.  Chelsea suggested creating an interactive zine, rather than a formal report or static webpage, in order to “document the sessions, gather participants’ contributions and collect data from waste audits in a fun, visual way.”

The 36-page zine incorporates the notes and reflections that participants recorded on a shared Google Jamboard, and the data, tips and stories they shared. These include creative ideas for reducing paper waste, things participants already do at home to live sustainably, and the items they threw away in a one-week period. Chelsea reflects that “people’s words shape[d] the content” of the zine. 

As well as sharing data and stories in an accessible, family-friendly way, the zine offers a starting point for readers to explore their own experiences. Chelsea explains that the zine was designed to show what the participants had explored together and pose the question, “what are you up to?” – highlighting that people are “on different sustainability journeys.” She adds: “the interactive elements of the zine enable people to join in – either typing directly into the digital document or printing the zine at home to write on by hand.”

Readers are also encouraged to engage with participants’ waste data and draw their own conclusions. On the final page of the zine, the data is represented visually in the form of a puzzle (see image) so readers can count the items and interpret the data themselves.

Since its launch, the zine has been featured in a range of blogs and e-newsletters which focus on community action and sustainability.

What’s next?

In 2021 KWMC is planning further family-friendly workshops with recycled and bio materials, and exploring collaborations with researchers and companies working in these areas. KWMC will also research and prototype creative ways to collect, visualise and communicate data about household waste, recycling and repurposing, such as interactive games, animatronics and digital installations. The team will also work with people to teach and support them to create and share their own stories and engage others in exploring the stories and the data behind them.

You can read and download the zine via https://kwmc.org.uk/projects/rethink-remake-recycle-waste/

For more information about KWMC’s work on ParCos visit https://kwmc.org.uk/projects/parcos/  

The ReThink ReMake ReCycle workshops were also part of the Bristol+Bath Creative R+D Inclusion Programme (https://bristolbathcreative.org/).