This is a story about plastic waste. Let’s talk about plastic and to be more specific, PET. According to WikipediA: “Petcore, the European trade association that fosters the collection and recycling of PET, reported that in Europe alone, 1.6 million tonnes of PET bottles were collected in 2011 – more than 51% of all bottles. In the United States the recycling rate for PET packaging was 31.2% in 2013”. And about plastic statistics it says on Container Recycling Institute‘s website: “Around 899 thousand tons of PET plastic bottles were recycled nationwide in 2013, but more than two times as much PET was wasted: 2 million tons.” These are stagering numbers.
Luckily awareness is growing, but still not fast enough. So what better way than to use design and art to show what we are throwing away and what could be made out this waste.
Intercept the plastic waste stream
One of the leading artists using plastic debris is Canadian born Aurora Robson. She lived and worked in New York City for over 2 decades during which time she studied art history and visual arts at Columbia University. With her work she intercepts the waste stream and finds ways to utilize waste by turning it into sculptures and installations.
“The materials I use to work with are usually things that people don’t care about. I work with plastic debris and that’s more or less because I’ve learned so much about the environmental impact this material is having.”
Initially Aurora didn’t start working with plastic because of the environment but because she wanted to explore its qualities of the material. The sculptures are inspired by nightmares she had as a child. Aurora transforms these thoughts into something uplifting and positive. One day she almost stumbled over a pile of plastic bottles littered outside her studio in Brooklyn. That is when she thought of using them to make art: “Using art, which is a global language, to talk about a global nightmare.” Some sculptures are made out of thousands of PET plastic bottles.
Around 2008 she learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and all the plastic floating around in our oceans. So she started looking around for other artists who were working with plastic and were concerned with this environmental issue. This resulted in founding Project Vortex.
“We support projects that intercept the plastic waste stream in innovative ways. The work we feature on the website helps support non-profit organizations around the world who are conducting cleanups of our waters and waterways. Project Vortex is raising awareness about plastic pollution while raising money to restrict the flow of plastic to our oceans. Project Vortex is committed to connecting non-profit cleanup organizations with people and collectives who are using plastic debris for their work.”
Photos © Aurora Robson
When I saw the sculptures by Aurora Robson for the first time I was blown away. They are so complex, beautiful and impressive. For those who know my work, it is no surprise that I love these sculptures and the way they are made. The designs I’ve made are also out of waste, but Aurora’s work takes it to an entirely new inspiring level. Please take your time to look at the photos and video and you should definitely visit her website to see all her work.