The Anatomy of Waste: Materiality and Value

INTRODUCTION

The Anatomy of Waste: Materiality and Value is a studio-based research project that investigates ideas surrounding waste and environmental sustainability within contemporary art and culture.

This project emerged from an art practice that utilised waste as a material resource. Initially, I collected waste matter [flotsam and jetsam] from the foreshores of Melbourne’s inner city beaches. I was concerned with the aesthetics of the sea, the way these discarded objects were smoothed over by time, arriving as mute messengers on the tide line. I also became focused on the more noxious of the waste materials like broken shards of glass or used syringes. Over time the waste became the subject matter, as it evoked the site, histories and rejection.

This change made me realise that I needed to question the nature of these displaced objects. How had they become waste? What made them waste? What was my role in this process and how could I develop a practice that was able to minimise the environmental impact, yet realistic to negotiate the problems in doing so? The Anatomy of Waste investigates these concerns.

In etymology, the word anatomy derives from the Greek roots ana, which means ‘up’ and tomia ‘cutting’ or temnein ‘to cut’. This reference to anatomy within my studio-based investigation does not reflect a literal or physical dissecting of waste. The term is used figuratively, to imply a structure or a framework that reflects the taxonomic processes of analysing and assessing collected waste.

Waste in the vernacular can be called trash, rubbish, garbage, refuse, litter, debris or detritus. While the terminology used for waste depends on its social and cultural context, in this paper I use these words interchangeably. The waste that is specifically central to this project is discarded or disused waste that was found within the vicinity of my immediate environments. The collection or resource base initially consisted of a large variety of plastics, wood and glass, with the subsequent addition of discarded products made from metal and paper. These displaced objects come in all shapes and sizes, deriving from a variety of social applications. While waste is a broad term, I will clarify the parameters of waste that is central to this discussion. This investigation does not include the highly toxic types of waste like nuclear or medical, rather it focuses on the everyday household or post-consumer waste – the visual remnants from consumer culture.

Through a series of interrelated projects, this undertaking researches the materiality of waste through processes of collecting, sorting and subsequently re-contextualising urban detritus and examining the social framework that created it. What does this tell us about society that discarded it? What alternative systems of operation could be engaged to subvert this mindset? Through a focus on waste, my research has explored alternatives to the current systems that are in place. What other options are available where the concept of waste does not exist?

Initially, this project was concerned with ideas of creating a sustainable art practice. I found the uses of the word sustainable problematic. Ecologically, the word relates to how biological systems remain diverse and healthy. Sustainability is the act of ‘conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources’[1]. Currently, the word sustainable is a term that is used widely and can be applied to almost any facet of life. Words like sustainable or green become catchphrases, suffering from overexposure or misuse, rendering their meaning redundant and their use problematic.

Nevertheless, I still use the word sustainable throughout this paper, though I like to think of it more in terms of responsibility. Material stewardship, reduction and minimisation are some of the environmental considerations that have framed this project. These concerns have provided an opportunity to reassess my art practice in terms of the use of resources, consumables, processes and waste generated. The Anatomy of Waste investigates how environmental concerns manifest within my art practice and how these decisions inform the processes of production.

The aim of this project is to develop a body of work that focuses on the collecting of waste from the urban environment. Disposed objects and materials that are of no further use or have become displaced are central to my studio-based investigation. Over the course of my tenure, I have studied these objects with an interest in their sculptural or aesthetic possibilities, their materiality and with an aim to re-assess their value.

The research has focussed on the processes of gathering and the subsequent sorting and cataloguing of waste. The specifics of the collecting sites have become important factors investigated through processes of mapping and tracing. The transitory nature of waste has been explored through various process-based methodologies; denoting a shift of focus from the permanent to the transient. Furthermore, a shift from the private to the public has been explored through using the gallery-as-studio, where process takes precedent over finished work. As I have explored various forms of documentation in an attempt to record and reveal the developmental stages of process, time has been a key feature of these practices. Through a series of interrelated projects and works, I will discuss these developments of my studio-based research.

Chapter 1 examines concepts of waste drawing on historical and socio-economic factors. Current sociological tropes will be explored to contextualise trends and systems of how society relates to waste. I will trace the correlation between the growth of disposability and the rise of the consumer society through ideas like built-in obsolescence. Some key theoretical and practical models are presented as alternatives to the current systems of operation. Michael Thompson’s Rubbish Theory is a key text from 1979, and is still relevant today.[2] His methods of classifying waste provide a framework that supports my investigations. William McDonough’s and Michael Braungart’s book, Cradle-to-Cradle: Remaking the way we make things is central to my research.[3] In particular, their ideas of closed-loop systems are directly relevant to the methodologies through my studio-based research.

Chapter 2 reviews the development of environmental art as an historical pretext that has informed my practice. I will investigate how artists questioned and rejected traditional methods of art production within the socio-political climate of the 1960s. Some of these alternative methodologies will be investigated through keys works by Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Joseph Beuys, which focus on waste.

Chapter 3 investigates three artists whose practices have explored society’s leftovers as an intrinsic component of their investigations. I will explore key works by Arman, Dieter Roth and Mark Dion, drawing links between their processes and methods of presentation that are relevant to this research.

Chapter 4 examines some ideas surrounding waste in contemporary society and the rise of countercultures who glean or dumpster dive. Agnes Varda illustrates these ideas in her documentary film, The Gleaners and I.[4] I will also discuss a large-scale collaborative project by Ash Keating, that used strategies of diverting industrial waste to highlight the everyday wasteful practices of the corporate sector.

Chapter 5 explores my studio-based investigation, using key works and projects to elucidate and support my research. I will discuss how the incorporation of environmental parameters within my practice, have informed and framed my work. McDonough’s and Braungart’s Cradle-to-Cradle ideas have been a central influence in the development of the mechanics of my studio-based practice. I’ve questioned whether my materials and resources can operate within a closed loop system within my studio practice? Can these salvaged materials be continually upcycled? I will discuss some inter-related projects that operate as closed loop systems.

Through a questioning of sculptural traditions, I will discuss my approach to materiality, the development of process-based methodologies and the different strategies undertaken to document the work. Furthermore, with direct links to this investigation into materiality and process, I had the opportunity to be involved in a large-scale collaborative waste project. Working within the dynamics of a collective, I will discuss the processes of creating an ambitious group project in relation to my own practice.


[1] The New Oxford English Dictionary, (2001), Oxford University Press, England, p.1762

[2] Thompson, M (1979), Rubbish Theory: the creation and destruction of waste, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

[3] McDonough, W and Braungart, M (2003), Cradle-to-Cradle: Remaking the way we design things, North Point Press, New York.

[4] Varda, Agnes (2000), The Gleaners and I, DVD

Chapter 1

WASTE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Waste

What is waste? The word waste is both a verb and a noun. As a verb, it means to consume, spend or employ uselessly or without adequate return: use to no avail, squander”[1]. As a noun, examples include anything left over or superfluous, an excess material or a by-product. Unwanted, unusable or unproductive[2] are synonyms that relate to waste or wastage. The prefix ‘un’ negates or opposes its very existence through a sense of otherness. Things become not wanted, they can’t be used any longer or they are not productive. It is this seemingly one-way trajectory of ‘becoming’ waste that is of critical interest to my project. Disrupting and subverting this one-way process has been a key intention of my investigation as I explore the ‘un-becoming’ of waste.

Historically, waste has been something that has been buried, burnt, piped out to sea or shipped somewhere else, out of sight. This chapter discusses various concepts of waste, initially reviewing the socio-economic structures that have evolved in industrialised countries and the value structures that have been placed on waste. It will then trace the history of disposability and investigate ideas of planned obsolescence and repetitive consumption. I will outline key theoretical and practical models that respond to the problems I have outlined. The concept of ‘closed loop’ systems and ideas about upcycling will be introduced as alternatives to the commonplace linear trajectory of materials and objects, embodied in a one-way cradle-to-grave model[3].

Prior to starting this research, my practice involved collecting and using waste, initially flotsam and jetsam from collecting trips along Melbourne’s urban beaches. My findings to date reveal the increasing ubiquity of plastics; evident in the high numbers of discarded bottles, caps, straws, lighters, balls and toys. Everyday plastic is cheap, mass producible and lightweight and although, in its current form, it has only been with us for about fifty years; the industrial diversity, versatility and disposability of plastics; make it an increasingly common sight along our tide line. The resilience of this material is evident in its ability to weather long nautical journeys before arriving virtually unscathed on the foreshores of Port Phillip Bay. Most plastics do not biodegrade, so they can remain water-bound for years posing incalculable environmental risk to marine ecosystems.

Figure 1: Chris Jordan Midway: Message from the Gyre 2009

This is exactly what is happening in the North Pacific on a large scale. Discarded plastics are being caught in the ocean’s currents and wind patterns, creating what Greenpeace calls the Plastic Vortex. Also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it is a swirling gyre hundreds of kilometres wide and situated north east of Hawaii, between Japan and the USA. Water circulates clockwise in a slow spiral, currents force the floating material into the low energy central area. This floating phenomenon, first spotted in 1992, is said to resemble a ‘plastic soup’. Samples studied by Oceanographers reveal that in certain areas the existence of plastic outnumbers zooplankton at the alarming ratio of 6:1 by weight. Sea birds, mammals and fish mistake the plastic for food and ingest it (fig. 1). The majority of marine debris is plastic and it is reported that plastics kill up to one million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals and countless fish each year[5].

When waste arrives on our shores, it is collected for landfill. Port Phillip Bay Council spends $3.5 million per year on street and beach cleaning.[6] Most of the debris found on the beach is mechanically removed and destined for landfill. Increasingly industrialised societies are facing problems with their waste as Vergine notes the ‘presence of trash in the world is not eliminated with the supposed elimination through the various forms of waste management’[7].

One of the world’s ‘monuments’ to waste is situated in New York where Staten Island’s Fresh Kills landfill site covers an area of 890 hectares. During operation, it was the largest man-made structure, 25 metres taller than the Statue of Liberty; and reportedly visible from outer space with the naked eye. Originally, Fresh Kills was to be used for only three years, but it operated for nearly fifty. Servicing New York City, the rubbish consisted of predominantly household waste, which was transported by barge to Staten Island. After reaching capacity in 2001, Fresh Kills Landfill was closed, though it re-opened briefly to deal with the aftermath of the World Trade Centre disaster.

Rising populations, particularly in urban centres have increased the rate of waste production and further impeded our ability to manage its disposal. The types of waste being produced are also changing. Over the last half-century, non-biodegradable and potentially hazardous items have increasingly become a part of our everyday lives. Additionally, anaerobic processes in the landfill produce toxic gases such as methane and leachate. While sites like Fresh Kills landfill will be monitored for thirty years, the long-term impacts of landfill on the environment are unknown.

Not all waste gets to landfill. Waste is thrown in the streets, overflows from bins or is washed up on our beaches. Some of this will be collected and end up in landfill. This project intercepts these discarded objects and materials by denying them their linear one-way trajectory while exploring alternative paths.

Value

In Rubbish Theory, 1979, social anthropologist Michael Thompson provided a narrative of waste that is useful for my research[8]. Thompson stated that the value system that defines whether an object is waste or not is culturally specific, and not an intrinsic quality of objects. All cultures create distinctions between what is valued and what is not; ‘we have to recognise that the qualities objects have are conferred upon them by society itself’[9]. Pioneering the field of waste studies in the 1970s, Thompson accused sociology of a conspiracy of blindness towards rubbish. This meant that there were no systematic methodologies in which to understand or consider why something was outside the value system of society, and how those values might, and critically, do change[10].

Thompson investigated systems of social classification of matter and in particular, rubbish. Following Mary Douglas’ ideas that ‘dirt is matter out of place’[11], Thompson stated that we only notice rubbish when it’s in the wrong place. Furthermore, he claimed rubbish is not the object, but the way the object is viewed. For example, an old wooden box may be sighted simultaneously on a scrap heap or in an antique store.

Thompson divided objects into three categories: the durable, the transient and rubbish. The durable includes such things as collectable antiques, which gain value over time. The transient object, for instance, a computer, decreases in value over time and rubbish objects, have no value in society and are neither valued nor valueless. Objects are not fixed in these categories as the way society views them can and does change. For example, transient objects can decline to the status of rubbish, or can be re-valued into durable objects. If a transient object becomes rubbish it will exist there in a ‘timeless and valueless limbo’[12], before it can be (possibly) rediscovered or transformed into a durable[13]. Thus, this value system reflects the changes and values in society.

Using an example from the art world, Thompson discusses how transient objects have become art, by example of a hat-rack. In a hallway, a hat-rack is a transient object, a functional piece of domestic furniture, which is stable. However, a hat-rack in a gallery [Duchamp] damages the ‘delicate cultural membrane separating the transient from the durable’ as artworks are traditionally viewed as durable objects[14]. This act of inclusion pierces the cultural membrane, revealing the fragility of the boundaries. It transgresses the borders of a category challenging the socio-cultural definitions of what constitutes art.  When the cultural membrane is healed over, it includes the new object – the hat-rack, into its domain. This object, this specific object becomes an art object[15]. This healing is important, as it demonstrates expansion of the cultural membrane through these acts of rupture. Moreover, what Thompson does not point out, but which is relevant, is that the inclusion of this specific hat-rack as art, does not mean that all hat-racks now fall into this domain.

Is it possible to rupture the cultural membrane that designates rubbish as useless?[16] This is an important challenge to my project. Joseph Beuys is an artist who has used rubbish and transformed it into art. His work Ausfegen (Sweeping Up) 1972/85, which I’ll discuss in the next chapter, is a good example. Consisting of discarded waste swept up from the streets of Berlin thirty-eight years ago, this vitrine piece presents an example of waste being re-categorised as art. Using Thompson’s categorisations, the shift where rubbish becomes durable, presents a cultural transition of waste becoming art. Using the diagram below, I will discuss how these ideas have informed my studio-based investigation of continually re-using and re-configuring waste (fig. 2).

Thompson’s analysis provides a framework through which to analyse the processes of becoming and un-becoming waste. Initially, this process involves reclaiming the salvaged materials (rubbish) as either a resource in the studio (transient) or to make art (durable). Once the objects are used to make art (durable), they are taken apart and returned to the studio (transient). At a later date, the objects are re-configured into art (durable) and then taken apart again (transient), and so on. Utilising temporary methodologies, materials continually oscillate between the transient and the durable. This act of making without permanently transforming, plays on these issues. Furthermore, the idea of re-defining what constitutes art transgresses the cultural parameters and boundaries.

Figure 2:

Re-valuing waste diagram

[after Thompson’s Rubbish Theory]

 

Built-in obsolescence

In Encyclopaedia of Garbage, Steve Coffell cites built-in obsolescence or planned obsolescence as ‘the practice of periodically changing the design of a product, often in trivial or cosmetic ways, with the intention of stimulating the sales of replacement items, which are advertised as “new” and “improved”’[17].

According to some accounts more than 90 percent of materials extracted to make durable goods in the United States become waste almost immediately. Sometimes the product itself scarcely lasts longer. It is often cheaper to buy a new version of even the most expensive appliance than to track down someone to repair the original item. In fact, many products are designed with “built-in obsolescence,” to last only for a certain period of time, to allow – to encourage – the customer to get rid of the thing and buy a new model[18].

In 1960, American journalist and social critic Vance Packard, in his best-selling book The Waste Makers, wrote extensively about built-in-obsolescence[19]. He distinguished three different ways that products became obsolete; through function (superseded or outmoded), quality (wears out) or desirability (style). Packard was critical of the genuineness of the industrialists, the manipulation of marketing and the wants of the consumer. Furthermore, Packard critiqued the increased availability of disposable products and the consumers’ adoption of this new disposability. He questioned the rise of the marketing of objects purely on their ‘disposable’ spirit.

Packard quotes from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The soft voice of the sleep teacher indoctrinating the young while they sleep, ‘I do love having new clothes … but old clothes are beastly. … We always throw away old clothes. Ending is better than mending …ending is better …’[20]. Packard chronicles the rise of disposable goods from TV dinners, food in aerosol cans, mousetraps, paper camping equipment and disposable watches.  He argues that products should be made to be durable as opposed to products designed for quick replacement. Built-in obsolescence is good for selling and selling is good for business. Packard had his critics as he was seen as an ‘old-fashioned conservative who celebrated the simple, primitive, almost poverty-stricken life’[21].

More recently in Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash, Susan Strasser states that disposability became a selling point; as it was hygienic, convenient or saved time. ‘Obsolete was good as no one wanted to go back to darning socks, thanks to nylon yard’[22]. New equalled progress. The slogan for the 1959 Dodge was ‘the old must make way for the new’. Disposability was seen as modern, democratic, and as a form of freedom. Strasser notes that ‘the act of disposing became, in the language of the Cold War, a distinction between the freedom of capitalism and the bondage of communism’[23]. America had embraced the new materialistic culture in the post-war era and Strasser states how over the course of the twentieth century:

Households and cities have become open systems rather than closed ones. Just as table scraps once fed the chickens and Dad’s torn trousers provided the materials for Junior’s new ones, so cities, too, were once systems that incorporated rag pickers and scavengers to process the detritus of others. They resembled sustainable biological ecosystems, which are in general closed, or cyclical. Waste to one part of the system acts as resources to another: the dead body and excrement of one organism nourishes its neighbour.[24]

Closed loop systems

This cyclical model of use and reuse is still the case in some places, although rapidly changing industrialisation continues to provide an ‘easier’ disposable alternative. I use the case study below to exemplify this point.

At train stations throughout India, there’s a popular chai drinking tradition that uses mud cups called kulhars. The vessels are made from local clay and each one is unique, hand-made and hand-sized. Furthermore, they are disposable yet completely recyclable. The tea vendors known as chai wallahs, heat the kulhars on open flames that are used to brew the chai. These vessels impart an earthy taste to the aromatically spiced, sweet tea drink. Once discarded, the empty vessels are returned back to the earth. Large mountains of broken cups are a common sight near train stations. As the cups are low-fired and unglazed, they easily break down and can be re-made into new kulhars; dried, sun-baked and re-used for drinking chai again, ad infinitum.

However, this simple tradition is dying out. India’s mass needs are being serviced by mass production. Since the 1990s and in-line with world trends, the proliferation of plastics throughout the sub-continent has been expanding. Now, the mounds out the back of the train stations are not the eco-friendly middens of the chai and pottery industries, but largely, the universally ubiquitous mountains of disposable plastics – empty cups, water bottles and utensils, ie. waste.

The above example of kulhars highlights a cyclical system of production and consumption that has become outmoded. In contrast to the one-way cradle-to-grave model, this structure of continually re-using the earthen cups, represents a closed loop system of production, that denies waste its existence. This model has provided an important framework for my MFA project, as I have investigated ways to continually use and re-use salvaged materials.

Waste and recycling are core issues in Cradle-to-Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, as industrial designer William McDonough and German chemist Michael Braungart offer design solutions to eradicate the need for landfill. Two central themes in their book are firstly; the critique of the linear cradle-to-grave designs that have increasingly dominated modes of production and consumption, and secondly; re-thinking how we make or design things by adopting a model closer to nature:

If humans are truly going to prosper, we will have to learn to imitate nature’s highly effective cradle-to-cradle system of nutrient flow and metabolism, in which the very concept of waste does not exist.

They continue by describing how a new manufacturing mentality might operate:

“… there are two discrete metabolisms on the planet. The first is the biological metabolism, or the biosphere – the cycles of nature. The second is the technical metabolism, or the technosphere – the cycles of industry, including the harvesting of technical materials from natural places. With the right design, all of the products and materials manufactured by industry will safely feed these two metabolisms, providing nourishment for something new.” [25]

McDonough’s and Braungart’s two systems of either cyclical natural products or closed loop technical production cycles are similar to other important design tropes today, from Permaculture to contemporary design. To give examples of these ideas, an aspect of Permaculture that utilises the first system of biological metabolisms or the cycles of nature is in the food chain[26]. Permaculture does not view waste as a disposal problem, but as a resource. Food scraps are fed to animals and in turn, their manure is used on the (organic) garden. Similarly, wastewater and sewerage are treated on site and re-used on trees. ‘Thus household waste products are used in the system to produce food and nutrients to plants and animals’[27].

Current trends in contemporary design indicate there are evolving guidelines within the industry that take a more holistic approach in the use of products and services. For example, there’s an increasing avoidance in using VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) or other toxic substances. Undertaking an EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) or a LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) is increasing. These models investigate the complex interaction between a product and the environment. These trends suggest the emergence of a new, more holistic mentality, concerned with every stage of the life cycle of goods and services. This approach was encouraged within the field of Industrial Ecology, and popularised by a 1989 Scientific American article by Robert Frosch and Nicholas E. Gallopoulos. Frosch and Gallopoulos’ vision questioned ‘why would not our industrial system behave like an ecosystem, where the wastes of a species may be a resource to another species?’[28] Enacting this change within our industrial system is the essence of Cradle-to-Cradle closed loop system.

In a closed loop technical production cycle, the outputs of one product become the inputs of another. For this to operate continuously, the inputs must be non-toxic and contaminant free, posing no harmful side effects to people or the environment.  These products need to be designed to be easily disassembled, where retrieval and reuse has been a considered component in the design process. Henceforth, the product can be used in continuous cycles as the same product without losing their integrity or quality.

A key distinction in the Cradle-to-Cradle systems concerns downcycling; conventionally known as recycling. Downcycling is the manner by which a product’s value diminishes through its life cycle. For example, a plastic computer housing becomes a flowerpot, which ends up as a park bench. In contrast, McDonough and Braungart cite an example of upcycling in their book. From the early days of car manufacturing, Henry Ford’s Model A trucks were shipped in large wooden crates. When the cargo reached its’ destination, the wood from the crates became the vehicle’s floorboards.

An example of a closed loop system that epotimises the Cradle-to-Cradle ethos is unfolding in the Pacific Ocean. Currently a 60-foot catamaran made from 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles is sailing the 10,000 nautical mile journey from San Francisco to Sydney to raise awareness about ocean-borne plastic litter (fig. 3). The brainchild of David de Rothschild, Plastiki took three years to research and develop a sustainable sea worthy vessel from waste materials. This self-sufficient boat includes resources such as solar power, food production and waste management. The one hundred day voyage of the Plastiki includes travelling via the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which can be followed through a blogspot. The mission of the Plastiki is ‘to beat waste by inspiring sustainable solutions and to highlight the ecological damage being done to the world’s oceans’.[29]

The architect who designed the boat, Michael Pawlyn, is an advocate of McDonough’s and Braungart’s Cradle to Cradle systems, and utilised methods of ‘biomimcry’ in his design, where he looked to nature for solutions. For example, in the creation of Plastiki, Pawlyn’s design of the hulls, which incorporated the plastic bottles, were inspired through studying the structural integrity of two natural forms; eggs and pomegranates. In a series of talks he gave, Pawlyn talks about ‘monstrous hybrids’, a term from Cradle to Cradle, that describes a combination of materials that at the end of a product’s life, cannot be separated for re-use. Pawlyn’s example of a monstrous hybrid is fibreglass, as it is impossible to separate the glass sheets from the resin.  He has experimented with a new product called SR PET. This material is made from recycled plastics ‘upcycled’ into a material that operates as a fibreglass substitute, where the materials can be separated and re-used again. This new material forms part of the structure in Plastiki. Furthermore, following the idea of closed loop systems, at the end of its journey, Plastiki will be dismantled and materials upcycled into a new form.

Figure 3:

The Plastiki prior to setting sail.

 

 

McDonough and Braungart suggest that we can best subvert the one-way cradle-to-grave model of consumption and waste by imitating nature’s highly effective cradle-to-cradle systems. As popular trends and tendencies expose the large gap between industry and the environment, their innovative design products, solutions and methodologies are critical of society’s wastefulness. These ideas will be utilised in the following chapters through an investigation into some historical and contemporary examples of artists who have engaged with waste, and my own strategies developed while undertaking this project.


[1] Macquarie Dictionary 2nd ed, (Sydney: Macquarie, 1991)

[2] Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/dictionaryhome.aspx [accessed 15/04/07]

[3] The term cradle-to-grave was first used in the late 1980s by economists studying longer product life in manufacturing. It was a linear model that did not solve the issue of waste prevention, hence the term cradle-to-cradle was introduced sometime later.

[4] One photograph from the series showing albatross chicks photographed in September, 2009, on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral 2000 miles from the nearest continent. Chris Jordan’s disclaimer states that ‘not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way’.

http://www.chrisjordan.com/gallery/midway/#about [accessed 04/06/10]

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about this project

[5] United Nations Environmental Programme www.unep.org (accessed 08/10/09)

[6] based on figures from City of Port Phillip waste management plan 2004.

[7] Vergine, L. (2007), When Trash Becomes Art, Skira Editore, Milano, p.122.

[8] Thompson, M. (1979), Rubbish Theory: The creation and destruction of value, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

[9] Ibid p.9

[10] Ibid p.9

[11] Douglas, M. (1966), Purity and Danger, Routledge, London,  p.3

[12] Thompson, M. (1979), Op Cit. p. 10

[13] Ibid p. 10

[14] Ibid p. 105.

[15] Ibid p. 105.

[16] This expands on the idea that nowadays, rubbish is increasingly seen as a resource, yet in the last century rubbish was seen as useless.

[17] Coffell, S. (1996), Encyclopaedia of Garbage, Facts on File, NY, p. 200.

[18] McDonough, W. and Braungart, M. (2002), Cradle-to-Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, North Point Press, New York, p. 27-28.

[19] Packard, V. (1960), The Waste Makers, Penguin Books, Middlesex, England.

[20] Ibid p. 47.

[21] Strasser, S. (1999), Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash, Metropolitan Books, NY, p. 277

[22] ibid p. 277

[23] Ibid p. 269

[24] Ibid p. 14.

[25] W. McDonough, and M. Braungart, Op Cit. p. 103-4.

[26] Permaculture is a portmanteau coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s combining permanent and agriculture.

[27] B. Mollison, Introduction to Permaculture 2nd Edition (Tyalgum, NSW: Tagari Publications, 1994) p. 91

[28] Wikipedia Life Cycle Assessment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_cycle_assessment [accessed 05/10/09]

[29] M. Palwyn Talks Parts 1-3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL6yZ5_-cKI  [accessed 04/06/10]

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