In our ‘build to last not too long and throw away’ economy, a solution is developing that sees an economy as waste free.  An economy that is circular.  Redesigning how we engineer and manufacture is the first step and we are very pleased to be playing a part of that.

Together with our friends at Rapanui we have designed a bag that uses waste (in our case sails) which can then be returned at the end of its useful life and broken down to be remade.   The product is designed to be remade.

The circular economy is championed by Ellen MacArthur and her work with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.  It is fitting that the major ingredient of our collaboration with Rapanui is one of old sails.  Moreover, this is an Isle of Wight project where the Foundation, Rapanui and us are all based.

So…. The Bag was created at the Wightsails workshops with a young designer Anu Corin from Finland who was working with Rapanui as part of their Social Impact programme.   The brief:  find a way to use waste to design a product that can be deconstructed and design an economic model for it’s return at the end of life.

The waste:  the easy bit for us is of course old sailcloth which we are constantly rescuing from landfill and looking at our own ways to create a cradle to cradle environment for sailcloth.

Rapanui also discovered another Island company Challenge and Adventure who have a mountain of foam camping mats left over each year from their charity clean up of the Isle of Wight festival camp site. And Goodyears outdoors, another Island Business that is most awesome, reckons that old army canvas is surplus even to his store of army surplus.

The Bag was created, made from sailcloth, old army tents and disposed of camping sleeping mats.

Economic returns model.

Something we have been working on is how to complete our process.  It is all fair and well sending out windbreaks and beach bags made from recycled sails, but this is still only half the job.  What happens when these products reach the end of their lives?   We have thus established a scheme whereby we will pay you to return your product at the end of its life.   Rapanui have inspired us with a similar program.  Read more.

Design to be Remade.

The Bag is easy to be broken down.   Parts can be salvaged and made into a new one with any broken parts going back into normal plastic recycling waste streams.  Repairs where necessary can be made to prolong life.

We loved working with Rapanui and it just goes to show what companies with vision and enthusiasm can achieve when working together.   Rapanui wrote the following and we liked it so have just repeated:

Is this the circular economy then?  ‘… Maybe not quite the grand visions of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is already working with international supply chains to make a difference on a global scale. But still, this micro supply chain looks and feels a lot like a circular economy.

One unexpected outcome has become equally important: Designing products in this way creates a really cool feeling like you know the item, and care about it a lot more since it’s designed to come back to us at the end of its life. Each one that goes out is like sending off a child for a first day at school, a backpack disappearing from sight. Good bye, good luck, we’ll see you again soon.

It’s cool what a little bit of inspiration can do…’

As readers of our Facebook may have seen, we have started a cycling range.  Small at first, but hopefully growing into something much larger.  To kick start our range we are making saddle covers (as it does rain a little in the UK) and cycle tool rolls that neatly roll up and fit under a saddle.  Both made from recycled spinnaker or new spinnaker that was destined for the dump.

We were lucky enough to be speaking about this with the Met Police the other day and they thought the Saddle cover made a perfect rain cover, see the photo above.

We will be making bags and other cycling apparel very soon.

Often one associates sailing with the sea, but there are plenty of active sailing clubs on our rivers.  One such club is the Little Ship Club on the River Thames and they asked us to make some Tennis Chairs from recycled sailcloth for their outdoor space.    The Little Ship club has a wonderful history.  Its training classes ‘…became so successful and highly regarded that in 1936 these facilities were used by the Admiralty to train members of the Royal Naval Supplementary Volunteer Reserve, many of whom were also Club members.

In recognition of this, the Admiralty, in the person of the First Sea Lord speaking at the Club’s annual dinner in 1937, invited the Club to apply for the privilege of having its own blue ensign defaced with the club emblem. This is the only known instance of such an invitation being made…’  And this is the emblem that now appears on the chairs we made.

We were thrilled to be asked by IT firm Net Evidence to make two sails for them that they could use as marketing during the Silicon Cup 2012.

The Silicon Cup is the IT’s Regatta held in Cowes each year. The sun came and out and the sails were placed in the beer garden of one of Cowes landmark pubs, The Anchor.


We are thrilled to announce a partnership with Wates Construction at their Maritime Centre of Excellence site, Boldrewood Campus that sees a dedicated sail collection point at the site.

It is fitting they are building a Maritime Center of Excellence and we hope the sail collection will continue when development has finished.

I have been to the site and I must say what a great site it is.  I am looking forward to seeing the finished project and also collecting some sails along the way.

So…. if you are in Southampton and don’t want to dump your sails into landfill, please head over to the Boldrewood site and look for the Sail Drop Off Point.   See the map below.  They will even pick them up if possible !!

We weren’t sure so we asked a few experts and they gave us the following information.  Bad reading eh?!



Wightsails is now available at the UK’s most northern point!

Our latest stockist, Natural Retreats Outfitters, is based in John O’Groats, in a tiny hamlet set amongst some of the most sensational and extreme landscapes combining awe-inspiring coastal stacks, dramatic cliffs, forests and white sandy beaches.

Natural Retreats Outfitters provides everything needed for a range of outdoor activities, helping guests with equipment, clothing and supplies for the wide range of activities available at John O’Groats.

Professional guides will be offering guests the ride of their life thanks to the new Natural Explorer boat. Wrap up warm, grab your camera and head out for a day of wildlife watching around the north Scotland waters.

The Outfitters will also be offering guided hikes, wreck dives, historical tours, fishing, horse-riding, geo-caching (real-life GPS treasure-hunting) and even whisky appreciation sessions! The Outfitters will also stock everything you could need for a holiday exploring the great outdoors. As a champion of British designers and manufacturers, Natural Retreats Outfitters includes equipment and clothing from top British brands such as Hunter, Anta and Highland 2000.

Brimming with wildlife, guests can expect to see the largest population of Harbour and Grey seals and an array of birdlife including Guillemot, Kittiwakes and most famously Puffins. Forget indoor aquariums this summer as the coast of John O’Groats is home to the ocean’s most beautiful sea creatures including minke whales, dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks and even killer whales.

Following a huge £6 million regeneration project of the area, luxury self-catering experts Natural Retreats are delighted to announce the opening of 23 standalone Residences and co-operative Storehouse alongside the Outfitters, in the stunning wilderness of John O’Groats.

The Natural Retreats Residences have been designed in the style of the award-winning luxury eco-lodges at their Yorkshire Dales site and have been underpinned by strong sustainable principles, with the use of locally sourced materials such as Caithness stone, Scottish Larch timber and sedum roofs. Modern, open-plan living including a huge expanse of glass allows the magnificence of the natural surroundings to be as much a part of the luxury experience as the exquisite attention to detail showcased in the interiors.

With British patriotism at an all-time high and such a unique natural environment waiting to be discovered right here on our door-step, there’s never been a better time to holiday at home in the UK.
Natural Retreats offer incredible places to stay in beautiful and secluded locations, with a personal concierge service that is unrivalled.

Stunning UK locations include the Yorkshire Dales, Ll?n Peninsula in Wales, West Highlands in Scotland and Fistral Beach and Trewhiddle in Cornwall.

Guests can also stay at any of the four beautiful properties in Ireland, including new property ‘The Hollies’ – a magnificent 19th Century manor house perfect for a big family holiday.

Last year, Natural Retreats expanded abroad with beautiful luxury villas in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote. Each villa features spacious open-plan living, with a terrace leading onto a private, heated outdoor pool.

Across the pond, Natural Retreats now feature two incredible sites in the US, Virginia Hot Springs and South Fork Lodge in Idaho. South Fork Lodge is widely known as a world-class fishing retreat and Virginia Hot Springs offers outstanding year-round activities including hiking, kayaking and horse-riding in a truly breath-taking location.

We have been tinkering with an iPad cover made from recycled sails for some time.   Many others on the market and we have spent some time researching what works best with sailcloth and we have finally come up with the following.   Still R&D, but almost there.   Colour options will follow.

Features that make it work well are as follows:  envelope opening, safer, secure, just looks better, doesn’t let any bits in with the precious ipad.  Reclaimed padding inside, small velcro fastening, covered with tag to hide stictching and ends (nice finish), soft lining and nothing inside to scratch surface.

Look at all our lovely products in the Beach Hut in Yarmouth.

Love the people who run this shop and love the shop :)

Our good friends Rapanui have recently been discussing the circular economy with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation which got us thinking about our sail recycling programme.

Regular readers will know our ambitions to be able to shred unusable sails and sell this back to manufacturing, but why not push that even further and say that a sail could be wholly reused without the need to produce new material ever again.   A tall order?  I read recently from another entrepreneur that ‘great athletes set impossible goals and achieve so much by getting half way there…’  (Gil Penchina in Wired).  Well, for one I don’t think it is impossible, but yes it is a big challenge and I am due to speak to the Foundation about how we can make this happen.

We have touched upon the cradle to cradle approach for sail manufacturing before and at the recycling end we believe we can shred sails and sailcloth to a material that is acceptable for use back into manufacturing.  The challenge is making sails from material that can be wholly recycled back into the making of a new sail.

The Island is alive with such forward thinking and we hope to play our part by being the first sail recyclers on the planet!