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Xenia Community Composting Project

Exploring the language of plastic, food waste and composting. Image © Ollie Harrop

“We welcome all women, we value everyone’s experiences and knowledge, we take time to listen and understand, we all have something to teach, we all have something to learn.” Xenia core values.

Xenia community. Image © Xenia

Over the course of six months Charnett Chau and Danielle Purkiss from the UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub and artist Sarah Carne will be collaborating with Xenia, a Hackney based organisation for women learning English and women who speak English, for a citizen science inspired art project about the language of plastics, food waste and composting.

Exploring the language of food waste. Image © Ollie Harrop

Exploring the language of compostable plastics. Image © Ollie Harrop

Current data associated with the Big Compost Experiment indicates a bias towards involvement by people who already compost. By working together with the Xenia community the project aims to address this bias, promote knowledge exchange about composting and plastic waste, explore the relationship of language and behaviour, develop new approaches to public engagement and explore mediums for science-led production of art.

Collaboration with artist Sarah Carne. Image © Ollie Harrop

In response to current Covid-19 measures, the project will be carried out through a series of online workshop discussions, home composting experiments and diary recordings. The project is funded through UCL Trellis public art programme 2020.

Watch this space for project progress and exhibition details in 2021.

Sarah Carne is an artist based in east London whose concerns are around status, value and rank and how these determine the opportunities we access, the materials we use and how we are perceived. Of particular interest are age, gender and how our society is structured to privilege those who can manifest confidence. She uses text, video and conversation as a way of drawing attention to and undermining the metrics and language that serve as barriers to participation.

Xenia is an organisation that brings together women from different backgrounds to connect, share and learn. In particular we welcome women learning English to participate in Xenia sessions alongside women who speak fluent English to meet, connect, and learn about each other’s perspectives through friendship and shared learning.

Charnett is a Research Associate within the Department of Chemical Engineering and at the UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub (PWIH). She has a biochemical engineering background and is specialised in applying life cycle thinking to analyse the environmental impact of products and systems - life cycle assessments (LCAs). She has co-authored reports on the current UK system for biodegradable plastics and recently on the environmental dangers of single-use masks. Her research approach within the Hub informs areas for improvement within plastic systems and assists with the optimisation of sustainable design-interventions. Charnett is interested in the communication of research to the public and is intrigued by how art can enhance this communication.

Danielle is an Architect, designer, communicator, and Research Fellow at the UCL Plastic Waste Innovation Hub (PWIH). Drawing from a diverse range of design and communication skills, her research focus is on sustainable design led systems interventions and circular economy thinking. Danielle is co-creator of the Big Compost Experiment citizen science study into compostable plastics, and has co-authored reports on the current UK system for biodegradable plastics with PWIH. Danielle is interested in exploring the intersection of art, design, and materials research, with a particular focus on the role of communication techniques to facilitate the exchange of ideas.