Harnessing the power of circular design to transform plastic waste.
A good gift is a thoughtful gesture, but a great gift goes beyond a single, magical moment: it shows who you are, creates a lasting impression and builds an ongoing relationship. We love helping our clients find these perfect gifts, so last year we started to think about what that would look like for us.
Globally, humans produce around 400 million tons of plastic waste every year. A huge amount of that is from packaging, 85% of which goes to landfill. Recycling is a necessary but imperfect process, so we decided to take matters into our own hands. Literally.
Led by our Sustainability Director, Mark Legge, we’ve created our most responsible gift yet, using circular design processes to turn local waste streams into something that not only resonates with its recipients, but also speaks to one of our core goals: gift less, but better.
We knew we wanted to make a spinning top. It’s an object found in cultures around the world for thousands of years, but it’s also been part of the &Open identity from day one.
We've gifted many over the years, and we know first-hand the joy they bring. They reduce stress, spark smiles, and the simple act of spinning them helps us see things from a different perspective.
This particular spinner represents the importance of finding circular design solutions. It’s a reminder that even small actions can have a significant impact, like the little twist that helps it go round and round and round.
IMAGE CREDIT: IN EARNEST STUDIO
To bring this vision to reality, we partnered with Ian Walton from In Earnest, a product design studio in Westport, Co. Mayo. Together we created an elegant, curved design inspired by the soft shapes of sea-rounded pebbles.
The body of each spinning top is made from plastic waste that we gathered from our studio, homes, and local community in Dublin. We saw its potential for a second life: new objects emerging from milk bottles, shampoo containers and old toys.
Ian’s approach is meticulous and thoughtful: the plastic is sorted, shredded and separated by color before being assembled one at time and baked in a special mold. Once they’ve emerged from the oven, they are polished and finished with a handle made of FSC-certified walnut wood.
The process is one-for-one: each spinning top repurposes one plastic bottle. No two spinners are the same, and each one has a carbon footprint of just 31g of CO2e. If we’d done the same project using virgin plastic, each spinning top would have a carbon footprint of 104g of CO2e — over three times as much.
When we send a gift, we consider all aspects of the process, from the gift itself to how it’s packaged and delivered. Sustainability is always front-of-mind, so we were very excited to discover a new packaging solution that, combined with a carbon-neutral delivery service, helps keep the environmental impact of this gift as low as possible.
It’s a combination of two natural ingredients: hemp hurd, a waste byproduct of hemp fiber production, and mycelium, which gives mushrooms their structure. Together, they create a versatile, biodegradable material that can be grown into the exact shape required, and is easy to compost or reuse.
IMAGE CREDIT: IN EARNEST STUDIO
We created this limited-edition gift exclusively for our community and network. We love our spinning tops, but we know from experience that no single gift will work for everyone — that’s why we offer recipients the option to choose between receiving a physical gift or contributing to a carbon offsetting project, making sure that nothing goes to waste.
… pass it on! We believe that gifting should be a circular process, not a linear one, which is why we encourage our recipients to give their spinning top to someone else when the time is right.
Good or bad, big or small, everything we do affects the planet we live on. We’ve put a lot of thought into what, how and why we gift, to make sure we’re best placed to bring your gifting to the next level in a way that shows you care.