The Nanputo Temple in Xiamen (Southeast China) is an oasis of quietness, religious practice and leisure for Chinese amidst the hustle and bustle of one of the fastest growing economies is the world. From all over the country, pilgrims and tourists come to the temple to pray, enjoy climbing the numerous stone steps up the rock and enjoy their view over the city. They don't want to have their experience of this harmonious environment spoilt by ugly things like trashcans, would you? But you have to leave your coke bottles and soymilk packages somewhere, so what do you do? Of course, you design a trashcan that beautifully mimics the trees surrounding it!
The designer of this chinese trashcan obviously prefers fake plastic trees above a well designed trashcan that looks just like… a trashcan. But what do trashcans look like, since their ulimate task is to collect and hide away everything we don't use anymore?
Is there something like the aesthetics of trash? This might be worth exploring. In Holland, we turn junkyards into recreation areas or golf clubs. The digital trashcan on our desktop mimics a nonexistent metal one, even though digital trash has nothing to do with the bins we only know from nostalgic movies. This goes up to the point where we associate these retro-style bins more to the first nostalgic desktop icons, than to these authentic bins from the movies.
One could argue that every society gets the trash it deserves, but this is a bit cynical if we consider all the waste dumping of 1st world countries in developing countries. The Waste = Food concept still seems a future fantasy most of the times. Until then, we have to face up to the piles of junk we produce. What's the best strategy to deal with it? Aestheticize it? Eat it?
Trash is everywhere and trashcans are everywhere. But what if places like the Nanputo Temple ceize to exist? What should our litter bins mimic then? In our Next Nature, where lies the future of trash?