The second instalment of my thesis project, Polymers in Action: Socially Engaged Art and the Environment, took place a few short days after the first one. The group that attended was another healthy mix of OCAD U students and concerned citizens, most of whom I know personally through my work with Figment Toronto. This mixture provided the kind of environment I was hoping for (and DID achieve with both sessions)—one of congenial art making and discussion—and the artwork produced was just as fun and funky as the first event.
While these events were fun for everyone involved, they were also critical in nature. The discussions that took place revealed common concerns for the way plastics are viewed and what we think happens to them after we place them in a blue bin. Similarly, few people know that Ontario ships its plastic recycling to China to be processed, only for it to return in the form of new plastic toys or other frivolous items. Why this unnecessary cost for transportation when a local initiative would be more effective? Another point that came up was so called “biodegradable plastic”. This is a massive misnomer. Plastic does not biodegrade, end of story. What is commonly called biodegradable plastic is a polymer/cellulose mix, which means that the cellulose biodegrades, but the polymer strands do not. I will write more about these critical points in future posts.
For now, I’d like to say another huge thank-you to everyone who took part in this initial run of Polymers in Action workshops, especially Rosemary Donegan, my thesis supervisor and photographer for the second workshop. Without you all this would not have been the success that it is.