Textiles of the Future

by

I have umbrellas on the brain. I could have really used a parasol yesterday to avoid the seriously bizarre tan lines I got while celebrating Bastille Day. Also, it’s raining and despite noticing that when I got out of bed today I still didn’t grab an umbrella before heading out the door. I got halfway down the block before deciding to head back, go all the way back upstairs and grab one. I think in the back of my mind this absentmindedness is a temporary state that I’ll one day shed, caterpillar style and emerge a fully put-together adult woman. The kind who checks the weather every morning before leaving the house and keeps a suit jacket and extra pair of heels at the office and band aids in her purse, just in case.

I’ve been thinking about buying a snazzy trash umbrella, but can’t justify the purchase since I already have an amazing hippo umbrella with ears and am fundamentally opposed to the eco-chic backlash of buying more stuff because it’s “green”. That said, I have a lot of admiration for groups like Monsoon Vermont and any income generating project that employs scavengers. [As Clement L., a commenter on a previous post, pointed out, trash is the textile of the future, it tells the stories of our lives. I’m digging that image this morning. It reminds me of grade school and studying the pioneer days when families embroidered patches with abstracted images of life events and sewed them together in quits.]

This company TerraCycle makes a lot of the same style stuff without the feel good international charity piece. Instead, they’ll pay YOU for sending in used candy wrappers and drink pouches. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Nevertheless, here’s a charming video of how a Capri Sun pouch becomes a tote. I’d love to know what you think.

A lot of my garblogging of late has been pointing out new things to buy. I’d like to get away from that. Remember the umbrella inside out design competition? For some reason I found that whole concept more inspiring than the juice-box bag craze. Maybe it’s that the juice boxes seem a tiny bit self-righteous. And while I’m all about self-righteous accessories (nearly all of my jewelry comes from women’s collectives in Africa), I think I’d rather be wearing a little dress made out of an old umbrella and be the only one who knows the secret back story than something that screams “look at me, I recycle”!

Image of dress via Treehugger

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3 Responses to “Textiles of the Future”

  1. Ruby Re-Usable Says:

    I purchased several drink pouch purses several years ago, one was made by a local high school student who personally drank all of that Capri Sun brand stuff, the others were made in the Philippines. I really like how bright and colorful they are as well as fashionable and practical, and the way people who usually don’t chat with me (like teenage bag boys at the supermarket and hipsters grrls in downtown Oly) will say “I like your purse, ma’am.” I like my accessories to actually look recycled, I don’t want it to be subtle, I want the message being worn to be obvious!

    I think that it is good to find incentives like money to encourage people to recycle. I remember when Coke bottles were green and had a 5 cent deposit on them, and how we also collected other bottles for money and brought them to the town dump/recycling center (they also paid for bundles of newspaper). Some states still do this! Aluminum cans, in particular, still bring in extra money. I don’t think we can entirely rely on altruism for folks to do the right thing when it comes to recycling.

    AND I think it is great that instead of shipping our garbage overseas and employing cheap labor and then shipping the stuff back, TerraCycle is doing it right there in New Jersey (okay, I know you New Yorkers think of NJ as a third world country, and maybe parts of it is, but still …)!

    THAT said, those drink pouches (they are different than drink boxes — drink boxes can be recycled, not those pouches) just should not be manufactured in the first place, since the only alternative to making them into purses is the dump. We need to have our beverages and other things come in more eco-conscious containers. Those purses will fall out of fashion (except for mine, because I think they are a timeless classic, but then again, I live in Olympia, not LA) and can not be recycled (except maybe at Halloween, with kids dressing up “Eco-chic”)

    The whole emphasis on consuming more is part of the problem, isn’t it? how do you sell consume LESS?

    As an artist, I struggle with this problem: I want people to buy my recycled art, it is part of how I make my living, and yet I know that the world does not need more STUFF. I personally balance it by also teaching students about the 3 R’s and how to make their own recycled art.

    The juice pouch fad doesn’t bother me as much as the fused plastic bag fad, some people are going out of their way to get plastic bags rather than saying no to begin with, and most plastic bags are not that interesting to look at to begin with (Target? bleh). But now stores are selling/giving away reusable bags, some of which are shoddy and fall apart and get thrown away too soon, some of which are made of vinyl and when we get tired of last year’s design, will be thrown away (or maybe sent to the Goodwill), and all of those canvas bags just look SO shabby compared with the latest green bags …

    well, you get the picture. I do like the little black umbrella dress and look forward to reading more about eco-style as well as other trashy subjects, love, etc Rambling Ruby

  2. everydaytrash Says:

    I was hoping my stance would be mildly controversial! Thanks for the insight from an expert, Ruby. You’re not the only trash artist who has told me they struggle with making stuff out of trash because in the end it’s still stuff. In my view it’s pure recycling…taking stuff that’s there anyway and making something useful out of it: art.

    I think my juice box issue stems in part from a suspicion like yours with fused plastic bags. I’ve been wanting to try that technique, but struggle with the material collecting. I have fewer and fewer bags at home and won’t go collecting. I have to say, though, I think the Target messenger bag I posted on earlier is hot. Not sure how the materials were collected, but I like the statement…just as, like you, I like the statement of trash accessories. But I think they can be a little easy, like calling oneself green. You’ve dedicated your career to making meaningful work on this subject. It bugs me that some hipster with a juice box tote gets the same street cred for buying something new.

    It’s a struggle. Trash stuff that retain it’s trashy look are more educational. I think you hit the real subject though: what can we do to create less to begin with?

  3. Ruby Re-Usable Says:

    I was just teasing you about the Target messenger bag, I know you liked it, and actually, I think Target bags are among the more interesting of the big box store bags … but how many upcycle bags do we need? How much is enough?

    My concern is that the fusing plastic and other recycled crafts glorify the stuff and make it seem acceptable, “oh, its okay to put all of my groceries into these plastic bags, because then I am going to fuse (or crochet) them into a bag, and I NEED lots of plastic bags to that.” “Oh look, these non-bio degradable containers can be turned into a trendy upcycled X, so lets buy them, no guilt!”

    on the other hand, just like the zero population group, one doesn’t want to be such a Negative Nancy that the solution becomes “just kill yourself” or wear sack cloth and ashes and live a grim, colorless, no fashion, no fun existence …

    so keep on posting, EverydayTrash, and I’ll keep on checking it out and spreading the word: Make Art Not Waste, love, etc Ruby

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