Life of Garbage

Haven’t seen The Story of Stuff?  Here it is:

Do you recycle?  What do you think we should do about all the garbage we generate?  

A friend of mine visited Eastern Europe soon after the Berlin wall came down and she was amazed by some of the smart things that were done to conserve materials.  For example, at the super market, all of the liquid milk products were in the same-sized and shaped glass bottles (milk, cream, yogurt, etc.).  Just the tops and labels were different.  When done, the bottles would be taken back and re-used.  We have some of that happening here in the US, but the public would NEVER go for a standard bottle size for any product.  Design is central to our capitalist market and we are proud of it.  I heard the Dalai Lama speak once and he said that although he would love to see everyone become a Buddhist, it made the world more interesting to have many religions and philosophies.  He chuckled and said that it would be like making everyone drive the same red car.  Diversity of product and bringing in that ‘new’ angle that is uniquely ours drives us as artists in dreaming up new work which, of course, we want to sell.

One of my dogfood bags.  See more.

I find this to be the big ‘Catch 22‘ for those of us who create and sell products while having a desire to curtail consumerism and have a low carbon footprint.  Some tips:

  • Don’t make junk.  Make things that will last, that might be passed down from generation to generation.  Treasures….  Example:  Amish table versus Ikea table.
  • Use junk as a supply.  Look around you.  What can you use from your garbage to make your products?  I’ve made woven bags out of the outer paper from dog food bags and I use the middle paper, a strong, thick brown paper, to wrap textile blocks and other things that I ship.    The largest items that I recycle are plastic milk jugs and laundry detergent jugs and I have been thinking of how they could be used.  If you sew, get your fabric at thrift stores.
  • Go green!  Try to buy what you need from others who are recycling or upcycling.  Yes, that may cost more and sometimes choices are limited.  A local couple in Paducah pledged to not buy anything from China for a year.  Their coffee maker broke and all the replacements they saw were made in China.  They went back to the age-old method of using a coffee strainer.
  • Live simply so that others may simply live.  We really don’t need so much stuff.  We can still live creatively and support others who do the same but just have less junk.  Sometimes I feel like taking a match to all that I have.  Even living simply, I have accumulated way too much stuff.  Yes, a lot of it is art supplies and inventory that I sell online, but I also have too many clothes, too many books, and too many other things that I do not use.  (NEVER too much art!) When I left Chicago, my sister sent me a web link to FlyLady, a site dedicated to decrease clutter.  It’s kind of corny, but there was an exercise where you go through each room and decrease half of everything.  I did it, had a big sale, and have never missed a thing I left behind.  Those things must have had babies, because even though I don’t buy much, it’s time to do it again.

What other tips do you have?  Share some of your thoughts about the garbage and stuff in our world.  If you make things, do you try to address this in your supplies and final products?  We’re interested, so speak up!



2 responses to “Life of Garbage”

  1. Kim says:

    Great information! Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Rayela says:

    Thank you, Kim! I took a look at your site and loved your work!

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