Our director, Tyrone Probert, hails from South Africa and has been an avid surfer since he was seven. He has always had a deep passion for nature and spent most of his spare time on the beach. With a degree in design, he has longed to merge his two passions and create thoughtful designer products that aid the oceans.
While traveling in SE Asia in 2014, Tyrone and his partner Carrie got involved with a group of travelers called Trash Heroes Koh Lipe, who decided to do something about all the plastic washing up on the beautiful beaches. We sailed to one of the remote islands with the loan of some boats from a local hotel. By the end of the day, the traditional Thai boat was filled with hundreds of bags of plastic. This global volunteer movement has gone from strength to strength and is now known as Trash Hero World. Tyrone has been on a journey to find positive solutions to ocean plastic pollution using sustainable design ever since.
"A trip to Asia in January 2014, where he discovered a polluted beach littered with ocean plastics, inspired him and set him on his path to finding his purpose in life. "
On their return from Asia, Tyrone realised beach cleaning was essential but wanted to go further. He believed humans needed to be more like nature - Circular in design. With his design and creative experience, he intended to recycle waste and transform it into something beautiful. In his research, he came across a few pioneers doing exciting things with recycled plastics, such as Dave Hakkens at Precious Plastics and Bureo in South America, who had started making items from ocean plastics.
Tyrone believed he could make stunning designer items from the trash, clean beaches, and create livelihoods for coastal communities. If the plastic waste could be seen as valuable, he thought the locals would keep cleaning the beaches to 'harvest' the waste and create a livelihood for themselves and their families. A win-win for people and the planet. Tyrone makes his products by hand from ocean waste to demonstrate how coastal communities in remote areas can do the same and create a livelihood from the waste they find on their beaches. Third-world countries often don't have the sophisticated recycling facilities we have in the West, so decentralizing recycling and manufacturing is core to finding solutions to ocean plastic.
"As we grow, our ambition is to set up more workshops in other countries to demonstrate how recycling and regenerative circular design can create change for people and the planet.."
Ecotribo was founded in 2011 by Tyrone Probert as a freelance design agency and has been successfully working with brands helping them launch their businesses for over eleven years. Tyrone had spent over 20 years working for other blue-chip companies and needed a change. He wanted to create a new kind of business that was good for the planet, generate income and create positive change for the environment.
He believed he could use his design skills for good but wasn't sure how that could look for quite some time. He was determined to create an eco company and help the planet, but he spent several years playing and exploring ideas. He had to juggle a young teenage daughter (Oceana, which he named the first ocean plastic plant pot after), paying bills, mortgages, and life. But the times in Koh Lipe stuck with him, and he kept exploring. He spent much time playing in his shed, at the local hackspace, and on his mate's lathe.
Tyrone started experimenting with materials and studied a circular economy course; he realised that material design was essential to sustainable design.
He explored everything between woodcraft, Ai, and biomaterials and spent much time working with waste coffee and seaweed materials. He kept returning to that polluted beach and wanting to do something with the waste he found on his local beaches. Inspired by ocean waste, he started making items in small batches, such as his 'Ocean Chair' in 2018.
He continued to find different ways to recycle ocean plastic and create high-quality, sustainable products. Ecotribo's first product was a plant pot utilising fishing net fibers and crushed Oyster shells from local restaurants, which continues to sell.
Since then, Ecotribo has expanded its product range to include other recycled ocean plastic items. We also work with several ocean cleaning and recycling initiatives and are committed to positively impacting the environment. Ecotribo is a company that is passionate about making a difference. We are committed to using recycled materials and sustainable practices and are always looking for new ways to reduce our environmental impact. If you have any more questions please check out our FAQs or reach out to us