Irene Soler is one of the artists who created the Brighton Beach Collective installation in May at the Fair Shop in Brighton. She created an exhibition with her installation of Brighton Beach Souvenirs. She is a very inspiring person and super passionate about tackling plastic.
Could you tell us more about Brighton Beach Souvenirs? When did you start and what was your motivation?
'It started in 2014. It was a day I wasn't feeling very motivated and went down to the beach for a walk. I started noticing these bright colourful bits all around me. Feeling even more disappointed I picked up what I could and when I got home I dropped all the discarded bits on my table and started playing with them. Ended up with a nice display and decided to take a picture and share it calling it “souvenirs”. That was it! They found me.'
You a very proactive lady and you mentioned that you are a part of various initiatives tackling plastic pollution- could you tell us about it?
'One thing took me to the next. As I kept recording my finds and adding pics to the “journal” (that's how I see the Souvenirs project) it started getting more attention. People made all sorts of comments and suggestions on what to do with the images which ended up becoming postcards. Eventually I was contacted by and organisation who was working with the Council's campaign “StreetsAhead” and they ended up using the postcards in their “Trash Converter”. I was then already thinking on doing something on the beach with the discarded materials and organically, the idea of A Drop in the Ocean came alive, and that's the project I'm working on this year. Together with the Council, the Volks Railway and some funding from Rampion Community Fund.'
You have lived in quite a few places- how do you think the problem of waste and plastic pollution compares between England, Spain and your home country (I am sorry I cannot recall if it was Peru)? Would you say that people in Brighton are generally aware of the problem and do their best to change their habits?
'Yes Peru, and lived in Venezuela too. Tricky for me to answer that, I haven't lived in any of these places in a long time. Waste and plastic pollution is a global problem though, plastic affects greatly our oceans which have no borders. It might be the case that in Peru waste is more visible in some places just because there's no infrastructure or services in place. In Europe, we are better at hiding it.
Lately, thanks to mainstream media, people not just in Brighton are much more aware of the problem. As the only city with a green MP it makes sense that there's a big number of locals who care and are up to change habits. Our problem is that we live in a very touristic place and what ends in our streets and beaches is not necessarily or only coming from people who live in Brighton.'
Where do you shop for groceries? Supermarkets are super good at adding unnecessary packaging to practically anything. I often struggle to eliminate packaging.
'I'm not a supermarket fan and hardly use them. I get a box of organic veggies and eggs weekly and I got a lovely local shop, Seedn'Sprout (which is like a mini-Infinity) where I get fruit and some staple food (packaged!!!). Bread from the Real Patisserie and milk delivered by Brighton Milkman. I'm not a big meat eater so occasionally use the local butcher and once a year I join SheepShare to get some lamb that keeps in the freezer for a very long time. If in town I love going to Hisbe where you can get plenty of stuff package-free, even chocolate!. The Waste-Not-Shop in the Open Market is great too.'
I am failing every day at my attempt to go plastic free this July but at least it made me realised to how deep the problem is and how vigilant one has to be.... How is your plastic-free July going?
'Same as my plastic-free rest of the year :) I'm generally very aware and just do my best. It's great to see that every time there are more options. Even in supermarkets!'
Your biggest nightmare?
'Plastic waves in Brighton like we've recently have seen image from the Dominican Republic :('
How do you imagine the world in ten years time?
'Depends on the day you ask me. I work very hard on my 'hope' muscle! I imagine less consumption, more creation. And of course, no plastics on the beach.'
Thank you Irene. xxx