AUG 2017

The Rusty Rooster

To begin building the recycling machines, I spent a few days at this local scrapyard, uncovering discarded objects that could be repurposed to build our recycling machines.

AUG 2017

Waste to worth.

Discarded grocery shelves, household items, and construction equipment make up the bulk of the materials used to construct the Precious Plastic machines.

SEP 2017 - APR 2018

Shop days.

Two generous souls, Bob and Cyndi, taught me how to work with metal and let me use their garage to build the machines. This project truly wouldn't have happened without them. Cyndi was my middle school art teacher - the person who inspired me to cultivate my passion for creativity. I owe them more than words can express.

APR 2018

Tackling plastic waste at the root.

Recycling plastic relieves the symptom of a deeper, cultural issue - that we, at no fault of our own, lack an appreciation for the connection between the products we use, the planet we live on, and our general quality of life.

APR 2018

Precious Plastic machines offer a chance for us to gain an experiential understanding of how recycling works and why it matters.

 

Along with that, we develop a deeper appreciation for the everyday objects that fill our lives when we understand how they're made, which can help educate towards a culture of reuse and away from disposability.

APR 2018

In April 2018, we piloted our first workshop with 8th grade students from Knight Middle School. We spent a day building the shredder, cleaning up litter at a local park, and using the injection molding machine to transform waste into new products.

APR 2018

The response from both students and faculty was outstanding. Students typically known for their misbehavior in the classroom were some of the most engaged and productive during the workshop.

I believe hands-on education will play a key-role in offering long-term solutions to plastic pollution by cultivating a generation of 'customers' who are more aware of the role they play in our global economy and how they can help end the race to the bottom of more, cheaper products.

APR 2018

As I worked on the machines, I looked for problems that could be solved through the design of simple, meaningful products that could be made using Precious Plastic machines.

MAY 2018

Forget Me Not.

One of the most common problems I repeatedly ran into was the use of single-use plastic utensils.

After taking millions of years to form, we use these banal objects to shovel food into our faces for twenty minutes before tossing 'em out to spend another million years wasting away who-knows-where.

I've tried using reusable utensils to curb this problem, but I always end up forgetting to bring them with me, so they don't really solve the problem.

JUN 2018

The Daily Spork is born.

To solve this problem, I designed a utensil that's always with you - even when you don't bother to remember it.

It's designed to conveniently clip onto one of the few things that you never leave your house without - your keys. That way you always have it when you need it.

On top of that its simple, single-part design makes it easy to manufacture using the Precious Plastic injection machine.

JUN 2018

Making the Mold

To make the mold, I used my middle school art teacher's Form2 3D-printer and hi-temp resin which has an HDT of ~260 degree C.

In terms of sustainability, this method is no good, since the resin can't be reused or recycled, so I don't want to continue using it over the long-term.

But for a kid who's self-funding the project by working odd jobs and serving tables, it is a cost-effective way to make highly detailed experimental molds.

JUL 2018

Sustainable by Design Awards

A week after its public release, the Daily Spork won a Sustainable by Design award from Range, which resulted in the spork being showcased at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Denver for a week.

JUL 2018

Daily Spork 0.1

In preparation for the Sustainable by Design showcase, I refined the spork design to make it more comfortable to use and easier to produce.

JUL 2018

By relocating the mold gate, the spork can more easily be removed from the mold and the sprue can more easily be trimmed.

JUL 2018

Westward bound.

With the spork design refined and samples made, I had 24 hours to drive from Louisville, KY to Denver, CO to deliver the samples for the showcase.

 

I loaded my mom's old minivan up with the machines and all my belongings, and hit the road. With over 243,000 miles on him, Clifford the Big Red Van made it out to Denver without a hiccup.

 

~ thank you, Universe ~

JUL 2018

Woodbine Ecology Center

After the trade show, I camped around the Denver area for a few days to take some time to breathe. My "plan" was pretty much to stay on the road indefinitely, camping out of my van and making Daily Sporks on the road.

 

I went looking for a campsite and stumbled upon this wondrous little place, the Woodbine Ecology Center. It's a 60ish acre piece of land that's used as a gathering place for various communities to spend time connecting with nature and learning about indigenous tradition and practices.

 

Totally by happenstance, Rick, the facility operator was about to do a purification ceremony with some of his friends. After showing me around, he invited me to participate, which I very gratefully accepted.

I couldn't have asked for a better way to begin this next phase of the journey I was about to embark on.

JUL 2018

Grateful for his openness, I stuck around for a few days and spent some time volunteering at the center. We spent most of the time clearing fallen Douglas Fir from the forest floor to make room for native Ponderosa pines to grow, which had been all but eliminated and replaced by Douglas firs when early settlers harvested the most of the old growth Ponderosas to build what is now the city of Denver.

AUG 2018

Park Pollution

As I camped, I picked up the litter I found lying around.. there was a lot. I like to think most of it was left behind accidentally, but still.. the ubiquity of it was astonishing.

AUG 2018

A Place to Sleep

Since the first night on the road, when I was driving out to Denver and stopped at a Rest Area to catch a few hours' worth of Z's, it was clear that I needed to build some sort of platform structure for nights when I was stuck sleeping in the van.

 

I had no idea how I was gonna manage to do that until I made a pit stop to visit my cousin, Andy. When I got there, I found out that he had a backyard full of old shipping pallets that he collected to use as building materials for furniture, sheds, and other things.

AUG 2018

We designed it to be two separate platforms so that I'd be able to easily remove them from the van by myself when I needed to.

AUG 2018

The platforms also functioned great as dinner tables at camp, as well as display tables for Earthworm demos. And in general, they just made it a lot easier to keep the whole van organized.

AUG 2018

Backcountry Testing

After building the bed, I headed to Ridgway, CO to meet up with my amiga, Carmen, who I met at Outdoor Retailer. We spent a couple days backpacking, seeing how we liked the Daily Spork while on the trail. Spoiler alert: It held up well.

AUG 2018

Growing Domes

After Ridgway, I began to make my way down towards Cimarron, NM where I planned to spend some time. The town Carmen was living in while interning for Growing Spaces was on the way, so I made a pit stop to see the domes in person. They've always intrigued me.

AUG 2018

Long story short - they're awesome. You can grow mangos at 10,000 ft in January...

At first I found myself questioning, Is there something wrong with this? Defying nature in this way? After some thought, I came to the conclusion that I'm on board with 'em. There's not really anything 'natural' about farming in the first place - it's entirely a result of man's "interference" with nature.

 

As long as the "interference" doesn't negatively affect the natural environment or the food that you're growing (e.g. destroying top soil, petro-based fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, etc.) it's ok in my book.

 

These bad boys pass the test. They're simply a method for people to grow food in places where it's normally quite difficult.

AUG 2018

Back to Art

Art has played an important role in my life ever since I can remember. When I went to design school, though, my creative efforts shifted from a place of self-expression to one more focused on problem-solving. Inspired by the natural beauty I was lucky enough to be surrounded by, I decided to have a go at getting back into art for art's sake. 

Earthworm's principle of 'doing what you can with what you've got' and my being too broke to buy art supplies meshed well, resulting in a piece made with campfire charcoal and an old trail map. The shipping-pallet platform that Andy and I built was perfect to use as a drawing surface at my campsite. The subject is my memory of a nice stream-side spot found while backpacking outside of Ridgway.

AUG 2018

Forget the plan.

At this point, I had been on the road for a couple of weeks, and my plan was pretty much to have no plans. Other than to keep living this way as long as possible, visiting friends, and making sporks whenever possible.

AUG 2018

Seize the opportunity.

That was, until I received a very unexpected e-mail from Dave Hakkens, the guy who started Precious Plastic. He had recently won 300.000 euro for the project and was inviting people from all over the world to the Netherlands to take it to the next level. I had submitted an application to work on it, but honestly completely forgot about it, not expecting to hear back.

He invited me to join the team.

 

After sitting in my campsite for three hours in shock, I cut the roadtrip short and began heading back to Louisville to prepare for this next phase of the journey.

AUG - SEP 2018

Dad's Garage

Once I got back to Louisville, I set up a little workspace in my dad's garage so that I could produce some Daily Sporks before I left for the Netherlands.

AUG 2018

I've spent the past month or so working through some final production kinks while I figure out travel plans.

AUG 2018

To ensure the sporks come out nice and clean, bathed the injection barrel in white vinegar and used wire brushes to clean it inside and out. Squeaky clean :)

SEP 2018

And printed some updated molds to make the new run of sporks. 

SEP 2018

Earthworm also received our first celebrity endorsement - Brian McCullough, lead vocalist of the up-and-coming group, Sylmar. Hehe

SEP 2018

Worked through production kinks and began to make Daily Sporks to send to supporters before I began my journey to the Netherlands ten days later. 

SEP 2018

Production Samples

Worked through production kinks and began to make Daily Sporks to send to supporters before I began my journey to the Netherlands ten days later. 

SEP 2018

Open Source Spork

In addition to making sporks myself, I also shared the 3D-file online for free so that anyone with the capability could 3D print their own on the spot.

SEP 2018

Global Spork

A day after sharing the Daily Spork's 3D file, I received an email from Cameron Hickey all the way in Australia who wanted to make a spork mold for hands-on recycling workshops with grade schools in his town. Within the week, he had already began making a mold using the CNC milling machine that he built himself. Awesome to see the idea travel so far, so quickly.

SEP 2018

Unfortunately the mold unexpectedly cracked before I was able to produce as many sporks as I was targeting before beginning my trans-Atlantic journey to Eindhoven.

SEP 2018

But I did manage to put two in the hands of Bob and Cyndi, the generous souls who lent me their tools, workshop, and time to make this dream a reality. Also sent some out to others who've shown support along the way. Aiming to make more so that everyone who wants one can have one once I get settled in Eindhoven.

OCT 2018

The Nature Lab

On my way out of the country I visited some friends in New England. One awesome place I got to check out was RISD's Nature Lab, where my pal Carmen works. It's this massive archive of living and preserved specimens that students at the school can study to build better understandings of the natural world. The collection was started in 1937 by a woman named Edna Lawrence and has continued to grow since.

 

Recently the Nature Lab has started to build the BioDesign Makerspace, which will serve as a space for students to engage in hands-on design projects that cultivate a working knowledge of biology and natural systems.

Mycelium Chair

OCT 2018

It was super inspiring to see the Nature Lab and everything they're working towards. Made me optimistic about the future of design education.

OCT 2018

To Eindhoven

After visiting with amigos, I made my way across the Atlantic, eventually arriving in the workspace at Eindhoven. Above is a marine windmill farm I spotted during my descent into Amsterdam.

OCT 2018

Joining the Precious Plastic team

There are about thirty of us so far, with more on the way. Representing nationalities from all over the globe. It's soooo exciting to be fighting plastic waste with such an awesome group of talented, passionate people. There was a bit of confusion as to whether we were smiling or showing 'tude.

OCT 2018

Defending the Hambacher Forest

On my first weekend in Eindhoven, a bunch of us traveled to Germany for a protest at the Hambacher Forest (one of the last remaining green spaces in the area) which was being threatened to be torn down by RWE utility in order to expand their massive coal mine. It was hard to fully grasp the size of the mine, even seeing it in person. Such a massive scar to leave behind... Oh and good news, RWE stepped back (for now), which they announced a day before we were able to go, but we went anyway to "celebrate" and see the place in person.

OCT 2018

Australian Daily Spork mold complete

Cameron finished up the very first aluminum Daily Spork mold :-) Next step is to test it out and see how it works. Energizing to see the progress.