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A few lines, one world: Gary Anderson and the Universal Recycling Symbol

For Ryan McGill, its legacy has been enormous. Earlier this year, the Glaswegian, London-based designer launched Two Degrees Creative, a collaborative platform for climate change solutions.

Inspired by Anderson, Recycle(d) is an ongoing project set up by Two Degrees, which sees established and up-and-coming creatives submitting contemporary takes on the work the CCA commissioned nearly 50 years ago.

The likes of Supermundane, Joseph Lebus, Adaptive Capacity and DIA have already given environmentalism’s most famous Mobius strip modern re-rubs.

Describing the Anderson logo as “a complete success, in a graphic sense”, Ryan is full of praise for what he sees as “a symbol that is universally recognisable no matter what continent you’re on”. However, he admits that, in all likelihood, it’s only in the last decade or so that its social impact has really been felt in earnest.

The original idea of Two Degrees was to bring together the creative industries to combat climate change. “With creatives being so connected to consumers and brands, the community has the capability to make change in a variety of ways,” he says. “And with collaboration being a common tool at the moment, there was an opportunity to engage the creative community with climate change through open briefs. Which then kicked off the idea for a collaborative platform for climate change solutions.”

Two Degrees was also set up to act as a hub for climate change information in a digestible way, contextualising facts and figures, also connecting the wider community with maps for local initiatives and ways to make a personal impact, Ryan tells us. “There will also be various ways for the creative community to connect and collaborate through the later versions of TDC, not only through a continuation of the open briefs but also larger projects, using collaborative teams of creatives from various fields.”

In a pleasingly cyclical twist, McGill had his interest piqued in the same way as the grandaddy of green logo design. “Weltformat was celebrating its tenth year with a poster competition, Now What?! – about climate change and what’s to come,” he recalls. “I had designed a poor effort of a poster with a half decent idea behind it, showing a rough timeline of what happens when we pass the tipping point. It went absolutely nowhere, but I still felt good about the idea of using design for the benefit of climate change.”

And so he started Two Degrees, calling for submissions via Instagram. A few months in and Ryan’s surprised on a daily basis by the amount of work he’s being sent, and also by how collaborative things are starting to become.

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