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Our Huia Feathers

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, recently wore a pair of our Huia Feather Earrings* and we have been blown away with the support for our work from people around Aotearoa and the world! We want to provide a little more information about them.

What are they made from?

These earrings, along with many of our accessories, are made from 3D printer waste plastic (PLA). The waste we use comes from the Production Studio of Christchurch’s central library, Tūranga. The production studio is located on Auahatanga, the fourth floor of the library, and has five 3D printers that are used for custom print jobs and 3D printing classes.

PLA (Polylactic Acid) is a common 3D printer filament material. This is technically commercially compostable but it isn’t accepted by any facilities in New Zealand. Because PLA is made from plants, its production has a lower carbon footprint than traditional petroleum-based plastics, however there are no regulations around PLA production in New Zealand. For more information on this complicated subject, see our resource at One Planet.

How are they made?

We take black and white 3D printer waste and chip it up. We then sort through the chips to pick out any rogue colours before laying out black and white plastic on a reusable silicone sheet. A sheet press is used to melt the plastic** into a long narrow sheet and let it cool. We take these sheets back to Auahatanga in Tūranga where we use the production studio’s laser cutter. We carefully align the sheets so the feathers will be laser cut to include the white tip, set up the files and hit go!

Once the sheets are cut, we snap the black and white plastic apart and put it back into the pile to be chipped and melted again. We then glaze the feathers and attach earring hooks.

For display, the earrings are put onto a repurposed tag that has been stamped with our logo and product information. When we send them out, we wrap them in salvaged paper/tissue paper, package in recycled cardboard boxes and post them to their new homes.

Why do we make them?

Our recycled plastic products are a vehicle to empower people to make sustainable changes, whether big or small. With local waste we create products that have a sustainable story - this not only diverts waste from landfill but also provides a way to engage people in a conversation around reducing single use plastic.

We are proud that our products are created in collaboration and with support from organisations such as the Christchurch City Libraries and specifically Tūranga.

Remix Plastic has chosen the tragedy of the extinction of the Huia to tell of the unintended consequences that can arise when sustainable practices aren’t integrated into our desire for new things.

* Before producing the Huia Feather Earrings, we sought advice from a cultural advisor

** Please note that melting plastic can release hazardous fumes and should not be carried out at home without adequate Health and Safety equipment. See our blog on this topic for more information.