For just over year, I’ve had a pickle jar in the recycling cupboard at home, where I’ve been saving all the scrappy bits of plastic that don’t seem to have anywhere to go in the recycle chain because they’re just too small. You know – those little tag gun things, special snappy hooks for in-store sock displays, disposable contact lens trays (and the lenses too), those snap-off pieces from yoghurt tubs, the rip tabs off pill bottles, etc etc…. These things are so small, they literally fall through the cracks. And the question is: where do they fall?
Because I can’t resist making a pattern, I tipped out my pickle jar one day and spent a half hour organising and aestheticising these bits and bobs into groups and patterns.
But afterwards, I put it all back in the pickle jar, with no answers to the problem of what to do with it… and what to do about the bigger issue of the tons and tons of plastic waste in our oceans, in our landfills and in our water systems. Take a look at some of these images. It’s crazy, isn’t it?
On Instagram, I’ve been following Keri Muller at @SimpleIntrigue, who has been picking up discarded plastic on South African shores and documenting it quite beautifully in a series of assemblages and totems (see below). She’s making a point beautifully, but as she says of her project in her first post of 2018, “contemplating this level of pollution is so overwhelmingly awful that it leaves me feeling horribly sad and bereft”
Keri’s project (and others like Thirza Schaap’s Plastic Ocean ) do effectively illustrate the problem, but if they only result in us feeling helpless and depressed, they just add horror upon horror. If it bugs us, upsets us, appalls us, we should take action. Make changes: Stop using straws, don’t get takeout cutlery, be more careful about how we consume, consider the impact of what we pick up and use.
Here are some ideas:
- Ways to make impactful changes in your household, via Goop >>
- More tips and advice at uselessplastic.co.uk >>
- You’ll never use a plastic straw again, after watching Straws >>
There are organisations taking radical action, raising awareness and attempting to change legislation, and they need our help.
- Follow the journey and support The Junk Raft >>
- Sign up for and donate to the 5 Gyres Institute at 5gyres.org >>
Some businesses are making this idea their business:
- Look at how Wisdom Supply Co is tackling the issue >>
- Harvest Straws are straw in name and in function too. Brilliant! >>
If you have a business of your own, it’s time to take responsibility and choose to make a difference too.
- Read this article about how to use less plastic in your business >>
- Read Design for Disposability >>
And my own business? While I have no solution for all those little pieces of plastic that continue to accumulate in my pickle jar, Skinny laMinx has taken a small action that means that our packaging will no longer be adding to plastic tags to this waste mountain.
“The best way to predict the future is to design it” – Buckminster Fuller