Raw Armour: Alice Potts helps combat plastic crisis with biodegradable PPE.

In a thoroughly modern project, Alice Potts creates fully biodegradable personal protection equipment made from bioplastics.

Intent on revolutionising the textile industry, Alice Potts aims to perfect sustainable bioplastics and fibres made from sweat crystals, algae and other sustainable materials, including food waste.

For NGV Triennial, Alice created her first set of speculative bioplastic personal protection equipment (PPE) facemasks made from food waste and dyed using flowers she has collected in London’s parks during the COVID–19 lockdown.

The work, ​Dance Biodegradable Personal Protective Equipment (DBPPE) post COVID facemasks​ 2020, is a result of Alice’s personal experiences as a designer during London’s first weeks of the pandemic. At the beginning of the lockdown, the designer was contacted by her brother – a paramedic working in London’s outskirts – distressed that he had no PPE to protect himself, instead wearing bin liners for masks. In response, Alice paused her design practice to commence reusable cotton mask production.

To date, she has created over 3,000 of these masks in a not-for-profit initiative. Drawing from this experience, and her ongoing investigation into biodesign, Alice seeks to "highlight the dramatic acceleration of single-use plastic usage for COVID–19-related PPE". She asked herself ‘how can I create a new sustainable infrastructure that can protect people but also create a positive impact on our environment?’ These critical design objects aim to provide a glimpse of an alternate sustainable future that rebalances our relationships to nature.

Alice is perhaps best recognised for her ‘Sweat Crystallisation’ works that turn human sweat into a biocrystal for use in art and design projects. She has also undertaken extensive research into biodegradable bioplastics made and coloured from local food waste and environmental components.