Plastic seems to be everywhere in our lives, from bottles and straws to food packaging and beauty products.

It’s even in the seemingly natural cotton t-shirt you’re wearing which is held together with stronger, cheaper polyester threads. Plastics don’t decay naturally, and they are hard to recycle: they can’t be purified by re-melting like glass and metal.

Plastic has built the modern world and has helped us in many ways. Plastics lighten cars and jumbo sets and save fuel, and plastic containers extend the life of fresh food and deliver clean drinking water and provide casing for the great range of electronic devices through which we all communicate around the world.

But the other side is the use of fossil fuels, and the garbage that flows down rivers and accumulates in the sea and on shores and in the microplastic fragments and fibres that are finding their way through every part of the natural world.

The plastic revolution started from using waste. Oil companies have waste gases like ethylene coming from the stacks of their refineries, and chemists found ways to use these gases as building blocks or monomers to create all sorts of novel polymers. So ethylene became built up into polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, familiar in our drinks bottles and also widely used in textiles. Plastics spread into every aspect of our lives because they were versatile and because they were cheap.

“Throwaway Living” – this Life magazine article of August 1 1955 is believed to be the start of the idea of the “throw-away society”.It became acceptable, when things were no longer useful, to simply throw them away.

We’ve produced as much plastic in the past decade as we did in the entire twentieth century. The growth of plastic production has far outstripped the ability of waste management to keep up.

Recycling itself is not enough. Putting it to the recycling centre extends plastic’s life, but it’s still going to end up eventually in landfill, where it won’t break down for centuries. So it is better to reuse rather than to recycle – and to enjoy the creative ways in which this can be done!

Familiar Discarded Plastic

… is a wonderful material to work with. From plastic bottles to milk containers and fused bubble wrap, the use of plastic for jewellery making is a fun way to reduce impact on the environment. Creative designs ranging from bracelets to necklaces are possible using pieces of cut plastic. Plastic bottles have the quality of glass, like driftglass from the sea, and fused bubble wrap resembles mother-of-pearl. The pieces are formed into repetitive shapes and can be assembled in all kinds of ways into contemporary-looking jewellery.

RePlast

New Zealand-based inventor and engineer Peter Lewis wanted to give used plastic a permanent purpose. He found a way to turn it into a new building material, called RePlast. To do this he created ByFusion – it’s a 100% modular technology platform that converts all types of waste plastic in this way.

Chandeliers Constructed From Recycled Plastic PET Bottles by Veronika Richterová

By snipping, twisting, and heating the drinking vessels, she forms long-lasting sculptures, with many of the qualities of glass. The glass similarity inspired her series of PET luminaries.- fully functioning light systems in the form of chandeliers and lamps.

Furniture Out of Woven Plastic Bags by Reform Studio

Designers Mariam Hazem and Hen Riad of Reform Studio created a plastex – a new eco-friendly material made by weaving discarded plastic bags.

Jewelry Art from recycled plastic bags by Wiebke Pandikow

This video shows how she use a flat iron and a soldering iron to make jewellery art from the thin, translucent plastic bags usually found in grocery stores.

Her artistic garments are inspired by the organic shapes found in land by animating pre-loved and discarded textiles and transforming them from a two-dimensional flat surface into a three-dimensional object.

the LAND and the SEA

In celebration of nature and its textures, these costume designs were born, inspired by the nature of the sea and the nature of the land. The materials come from various forms of waste – from plastic bottles to preloved textiles and jewellery pieces.

3D Printing & Doodling

The possibility of home recycling of plastic has now emerged as an additional aspect of the new technology of 3D printing.

Feedback

The installation linked the the world of art, mythology and nature with the world of technology and materials.

Fashion the Future

The costumes were created to show the creative potential of upcycling.