Our Huia Feathers: An Update
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, 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 have spent the past year attempting to scale up and fulfil demand. There have been numerous hurdles along the way but we now have a revamped, redesigned version of our popular recycled plastic accessories!
Still 100% recycled plastic
Our latest version are still 100% recycled 3D printer waste plastic (PLA). While the original design was black and white plastic melted together, the limited white plastic available has led us to rethink this and make earrings that are black with painted tips.
It has taken a lot of consideration and prototyping to ensure we are still making a product that is as environmentally friendly as possible. Our recent customer survey has shown us that our products are having the positive impact that we had hoped for and by continuing to make these earrings in a new way, we can continue that impact. We are also able to continue recycling black plastic and the new process creates less waste overall.
So by making this shift we are able to have more impact and more plastic diverted from landfill!
What is the plastic?
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 we make them?
We take black 3D printer waste and chip it up. We then sort through the chips to pick out any rogue colours before laying the plastic out on a reusable silicone sheet. A sheet press is used to melt the plastic** into a sheet and let it cool. We then laser cut these sheets with our own machine in our home based workshop.
Once the sheets are cut, we chuck the scraps 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 100% recycled card with our details and. 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.
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. Read more about this here.
* 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.