Scallop shells, or any seashells for that matter, are intended to protect their inhabitants from predators. Using biomimicry along with a sustainable design process, a team of researchers and designers in Japan have created a helmet to protect human lives that’s made out of discarded scallop shells. The resulting product is not only better for the environment but is also more durable and lighter than conventional plastic helmets.
Scallop shells piled up in Sarufutsu Village (August 2022)
Sarufutsu Village in Hokkaido is one of Japan’s leading producers of scallops. However, the problem of marine waste comes hand-in-hand with roughly 40,000 tons of scallops shells generated annually. So the village teamed up with Osaka-based chemicals company Koushi Chemical, who developed a way to process the leftover shells into a material they called “karastic” (a combination of the words kara, meaning shell, and plastic).
The material was then handed over to design studio Quantum, who created the helmet inspired by the ribbed structure of a shell. They called it Hotamet, another portmanteau of the words hotate (scallop) and helmet.
Hotamet is currently available through Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake where it’s already surpassed its initial funding goal. Given that Japan will become one of the few countries in the world to mandate the use of helmets when bicycling starting April of 2023, the Hotamet couldn’t have come at a better time.