Signals of change are new ideas or innovations that could change the game for sustainability in the future. Use the Futures Centre as your space to keep track of what's new to find opportunities for a sustainable future.
1) Maddy, tell us a bit about who you are.
I am 24 years old and from Cornwall, England. Living in close proximity to the sea means I now like nothing more that a long day on the beach, surfing, walking or water-skiing – although after a high-speed brick wall-esque collision with the estuary last weekend I am feeling less fond of the latter. When in London I often find myself immersed in my patch of garden, growing vegetables, and introducing homeopathic herbs and plants to make teas.
2) How did you first start spotting signals?
I’ve always enjoyed getting behind campaigns and staying up-to-date with innovation and ideas in my main areas of interest - ocean health and animal conservation. Working at Forum, naturally my exposure to this kind of information has expanded, and it’s a great seat from which to watch signals cropping-up.
3) Do you scan for a specific area?
My main area of interest is marine conservation, especially plastic pollution. This scanning comes naturally as I am always eager to discover any new activity or leadership in this area. The interconnectedness of the ocean with most sustainability challenges means I’m also switched-on to other areas, including climate change, renewable energy, tourism, farming, health etc. It is difficult to separate one area from another.
4) Why did you feel that “Is the future of plastic biodegradable?” was a signal of change?
I first heard about Polymateria’s work from a friend on a long car journey down to Cornwall. Despite having attended plastic focused talks and workshops, this was the first solution that I had heard of which worked with current systems whilst answering the detrimental effects of the industry.
The drawbacks of plastic are widely realized but its use is embedded into the everyday systems of societies globally. This signal shows that the science is there to retain the same systems, but tweak manufacturing to end plastic’s destruction of natural environments. This seems like an open door for industries that are attempting to solve their polluting effects without a massive financial re-investment into another system. The workable integration of this pollution solution reveals that change could be closer on the horizon.
Polymateria has developed a method which allows a cost-effective route to producing plastic products which are 100% biodegradable, while releasing zero toxins in decomposition. This project has been supported by Imperial College London with the eye to end plastic pollution globally.
5) What are your hopes for the future?
I hope that these signals shared on the Futures Centre will keep thought moving and new ideas present in conversation so that the boundaries of innovation are pushed towards a sustainable world.
Thank you, Maddy!
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