St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Could hipsters be good for the environment?

After the success of our Gillian Clifton Guest Blogs (catch up here if you missed it!) the team here at St Nicks have decided to feature regular “opinion pieces” from staff and volunteers. They are intended to be a bit lighthearted and raise issues and conversations you might not have thought about before. We hope you enjoy it!

Sam Taylor, Recycling Coordinator at St Nicks, ponders how hipsters may contribute to a sustainable society…

You only have to walk around our Environment Centre to see that St Nicks prides itself on its ability to turn unwanted waste items into something new. We have plant pots made out of wellington boots, tyres and broken buckets. Our shop stocks bug hotels and bird houses made from plastic bottles as well as utensil and pen holders made from tins and cans. I wonder how popular a treasure hunt of up cycled items could be…?

Even with my direct daily exposure to the concept of upcycling and getting the most out of every item produced it’s taken me a while to view some hipster practises as anything other than a novelty.

ICustard tin cocktail had a lightbulb moment after one of my friends told me about a cocktail they’d tried over the weekend in London at Ladies and Gents.

In case you were interested, this drink tastes like the rhubarb and custard sweets you may have eaten as a child. The concoction is then served in a Birds Custard Powder tin.

It got me thinking, if it’s becoming more popular to be “quirky” then could hipsters benefit the environment?

The same cocktail bar that serves custard themed drinks in custard tins also serve chocolate drinks in… you guessed it, chocolate tins. Do you get the theme?

I started looking into the hipster theme a bit more and found restaurants that had used an old Bucket upcycled into a sinkbucket (@carljohnson125) for a sink and countless others that were also reusing steel food cans and mason jars as cups and wooden boards as plates. Whilst some may roll their eyes and sigh at the lengths people are going to, to be seen as “out there”, I can’t help but think that some things (as long as they are safe!) can only be positive.

My point is could this trend of reusing and repurposing be benefiting our environment? It certainly complies with our own views of encouraging a circular economy. A steel can could have a much longer productive life if after it’s emptied it’s cleaned and reused as a drinks container, a tea light holder, or even just generally for storage than if its sent straight to the recycling plant.

Obviously I’m not naieve enough to think that hipsters can solve all of our waste management problems and this probably won’t have any influence on how many cans are produced and sent to landfill. But, it could start to have an impact on our culture itself and our attitudes to re-use and recycling especially for younger generations who may (hopefully!) start to think it is odder NOT to re-use or recycle items…

I’ve noticed a few places in York serving drinks in unusual containers, such as LICC whose milkshakes you can get in a mason jar. Have you spotted any effects of this rising sub culture? Do you think it could help promote sustainable living? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Personally, I’ve come across a few things thanks to our Eco Crafters and during research for an exciting event we are co-hosting with Clements Hall in October. Our Eco Crafters turn unwanted items into things people want to use and buy such as umbrellas turned into tote bags and coffee jars recovered to be vases. Our event in October will be a Craft and Up-cycling event with a few workshops and stalls were you can buy items that used to be something else, think LP bowls and lightbulb vases…




27 July 2016 | Categories: Inspiration, Opinion Piece | Tags: chocolate, circular economy, custard, fun, hipsters, opinion, recycle, reuse, sink, sustainability, upcycle