Friday, February 29, 2008

plastic vs plastic

In the last few years, my mother has drastically reduced her use of plastic bags. She’s not alone. There are many, many people doing their bit to prevent the environmental hazards caused by plastic.

Unfortunately, there are a lot more people out there making plastic bags. Factories worldwide belch out 4-5 trillion plastic bags every year (numerals would have looked more impressive but I was scared of scuffing the printing off my zero key).

Where do these bags go? A lot of them make their way into landfills, drains, the stomachs of animals and our oceans.

Luckily, as my friend Pepe showed me after a visit to the Philippines, some plastic bags go to work for a good cause. The tote he brought me (the one in the picture) is made of 18 snack packs rescued from landfills and stitched together.

Here are all the things I love about it.

The looks: I think the design is cool - kind of Warhol-ish and pop artsy! The unusual looks of the bag never fail to start a conversation.

The possibilities: Think of discarded plastic bags as raw material. It’s free. It’s everywhere. All you have to do is watch out for empty snack packs flying out of car windows and buildings, and grab them before the cows do. Voila! You have what you need to manufacture totes, coin purses, backpacks, lamp shades, car covers, umbrellas...

Plastic vs plastic: What I love most is the paradox! Here is a tote made of plastic bags that turns me against using more plastic bags. What could be more delightful?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

children of chaos

If you ever need to rescue a choking conversation, try this emergency procedure.

Ask the people you're with if they drove down to the restaurant or wherever you are at the moment.

Regardless of how lifeless the conversation seemed seconds ago, your question will restore it in steroidal proportions. Awkward humming and hawing will plump up into a series of topics that will charge from traffic jams to atrocious town planning to gaping holes in infrastructure. The conversation will finally pool and grow around the state of chaos created by modernization.

Like us, the people of ancient Greece believed that chaos was crude, unpredictable and disorganised. But unlike us, they didn't think it was the end product of anything.

According to Greek mythology, chaos was the beginning, the original state of existence. It took that churning void to give birth to a beautiful, productive Goddess that we call earth.

Although I don't worship Greek Gods (not the ones in mythology anyway), I find this point of view rejuvenating.

I'd like to believe that even today, chaos continues to give birth to beautiful creations. Maybe we just aren't looking hard enough for the beauty.

Here's to surprising, beautiful things and possibilities born of chaos.

If I don't post new findings regularly, it would be because I am busy finding new ways to revive dying conversations :)