Saturday, January 3, 2009

Flash from trash!

posted by Circe

Over the summer of 2007 we received a challenge from artist Virginia Fleck (aka my mommy) to reuse the bags that she had saved from her 2005 art installation, Laguna Gyre. Well, first let me give you some background on Laguna Gyre. It was made from about six thousand plastic bags, all defective and bound for the dumpster. My mom obtained them from a distributor. The purpose of the Laguna Gyre installation was to call attention to plastic pollution in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Here’s a picture of what Laguna Gyre Art installation looked like:

Here is an animation that show the currents in the North Pacific Sub Tropical Gyre 

Here is a link about what's been going on there

Sadie and I helped my mom install it and then uninstall it a month later. I guess that's why they call it temporary public art!  Installation consisted of several days of filling plastic bags with air and then nailing them into the ground. The day we started the temperature soared above 100 degrees. We toiled in the hot Texas sun. I’m pretty sure that child labor laws were violated, but I digress. This is us after a hard day’s work deinstalling, looking rather wilted.

Needless to say, Sadie and I never wanted to see these bags again, BUT, apparently time heals all wounds, emotional and physical, because two summers later we were happily reunited with the bags- pretty much all six thousand of them!

Anyway, Sadie, Roz, Emily, Sydne and I met to discuss the bag using challenge. What can we do with 6000 plastic bags? We thought of a million things to make with plastic bags, and somehow we managed to narrow it down to full body armor, hats, or tote bags. We decided that the answer was totally totes. If we made totes, once they were done we could bring them to the grocery store fill them with our groceries (Ben and Jerry's chocolate fudge brownie ice cream for me!) and eliminate the need for the single use throw- away plastic bag.That's right fill our tummies AND save the environment! It was what they call a” win-win situation”. Here are some picture from our bag making adventure.- circe

here we are with our finished bags!

This is Sydne being very happy with her work in progress

Roz's bag is almost finished, just the shoulder strap is left! The cat is helping too of course...

Sadie's bag is almost done too!

I'm not sure why I'm inside the bag, but it must have been for some important reason...


We did a little  "angsty " research and found a lot of surprising information about plastic bags. Here are some really good websites to check out.

Here's what surprised us:

  • We use over one million bags per minute world wide.
  • Each year an estimated 4 billion of those plastic bags end up as litter. Tied end to end that’s enough to circle the earth 63 times.
  • Plastic bags choked drainage systems in India during monsoon rains and lead to loss of human life and outbreaks of water borne disease.
  • Mountains of plastic bags in Africa's slums are a major health hazard. They collect water and become breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
  • There is an area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, estimated to be a thousand miles wide, that is covered in floating plastic trash!

See our HOW TO MAKE A PLASTIC BAG TOTE tutorial to get directions for making your own fabulous bag creation



lc707 said...

Well done!! Thank you for getting out there and making such a positive impact on our world!! Would you be willing to share your tote bag method and pattern? I would love to teach it to students here in Northern Calif. Thank you!

the angsty teenage eco warriors said...

Yes! we would love to share our tote bag techniques with you. All we ask is that you send us pictures of the bags you make so we can post them here and inspire others to do the same. Together we can make a difference! This weekend the angsty teens will post part 2 of FLASH FROM TRASH which will include the instructions and a bunch more pictures. ALSO stay tune for the how to make a plastic bag tu-tu video- we should have that one posted in the next week or so.