Based in Noosa on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, Renton Bishopric and his partner Clare Botfield launched Pottery For The Planet in 2016 with the intention to raise funds for environmental causes. ‘We are both very passionate about the environment and wanted to do something about the single use plastic issues,’ explains Renton. ‘Which led us to focus on how pottery products could replace things in the single-use market. Primarily reusable coffee cups.’
‘We chose to tackle the food industry as it is a sector where consumers consume a lot,’ shares Clare, ‘and where one decision [to use a reusable cup] can make a big impact. Every time someone buys one, it’s one more big pile of paper cups that we aren’t going to see in landfill.’
While their intention is familiar to many, their quest for achieving something unique and beautiful at the same time has propelled them into the spotlight in Australia and now they are bringing their wares to our shores.
‘We have been sending cups to New Zealand for a while now,’ shares Clare, ‘but as well as trying to reduce waste, we also want to reduce the carbon footprint of what we do. So sending small orders of cups by plane across the ocean didn’t fit well with that. What we have done instead is set up a warehouse in Auckland and sent a container full of cups by sea so that we can dispatch locally.
‘It took us the best part of a year to build up enough stock to fill the container but we did it and they all arrived safely! The next step is to get as many cafés and stores on board to help us begin to change the disposable culture in New Zealand.’
One such Pottery For The Planet stockist is Bruce McFarlane of The Addington Store, found within Christchurch’s iconic Addington Coffee Co-op, and like me, it was love at first sight. ‘One of my colleagues bought a cup online and as soon as I saw it I reached out to see if we could stock them,’ explains Bruce. ‘It was a winning decision as they have been flying out the door. Simple, creative, beautiful and of course functional, they have the wow factor and we constantly hear exclamations of delight and joy from customers when they see and touch them.’
Fitted with silicone lids, the adeptly named Planet Cups come in a range of colours, tones and patterns. With each one hand-made by the Pottery For The Planet artists, no two are the same. ‘The variations in colour, size and markings is what makes them unique,’ enthuses Clare. ‘Our theory has been that if we create a really beautiful and desirable product and have it sitting on a shelf right beside the coffee machine, then people will see them, love them and grab them for their coffee. Suddenly people are wasting less without even really thinking about it.
‘We continually work on new designs so that we always have something new to offer people who want to start a bit of a Planet Cup collection. The only way to make this all possible though is through collaborating with cafés and stores because we need their help on the ground to make environmentally-friendly practices fashionable.’
While the expansion into our local market is a new step for the duo, their connections to New Zealand run deep, with Renton’s dad a Kiwi who began his own career as a potter here in the North Island town of Waipu. He moved to Queensland in the ’70s and set up a studio there, however his connection to New Zealand was strong, naming his son after one of our most influential potters, Renton Murray. ‘New Zealand is where the pottery influence on Renton’s life first began,’ shares Clare. ‘So it is really special to be selling our cups here.’
While I have long favoured New Zealand potters, Renton Bishopric’s creations sung to me, and who can resist a piece of art that is not only saving the planet, but designed with purpose. The biggest decision now, is which Planet Cup should I begin my collection with?
WORDS Lucinda Diack