Plastic Planet

“Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic” Andy Warhol

The United States throws out 25 billion plastic water bottles each year; a ‘patch’ of plastic garbage twice the size of Texas now swirls in the center of the Pacific Ocean. From its invention in 1907, plastic and plastic-derived chemicals have worked their way into the rungs of every food chain on Earth. Plastic might be the newest nutrient in the planet’s ecosystems, but so far, nature has yet to find a use for it. The only sensible way to think of plastic is as a raw Next Nature material, waiting for its balancing counterpart to evolve. We only have time: the average plastic bag will linger for your great grandchildren to clean up 1,000 years from now.

Plastic Planet

ESSAY BY Van Mensvoort
February 19th 2011

We tend to think of plastic as a cheap, inferior and ugly material used to make children’s toys, garden furniture and throwaway bottles. But as an experiment, imagine for a moment a world in which plastic was extremely rare, like gold or platinum, and plastic objects were devastatingly expensive to produce. One would encounter plastic objects only at special occasions; one would see and touch very few plastic objects throughout one’s lifetime. I know it’s a challenge, but try to imagine, for the sake of our experiment, that plastic was scarce, available only to the happy few, and the masses lived in a world of wood, pottery and metals.…

The Soul is a Plastic Bag

In this stunning short by Ramin Bahrani, the title character spends a lifetime (or more) on a quest for a creator not even aware of his existence.

Recycled Island

Van Mensvoort
April 4th 2010

Recycled island is a research project on the potential of realizing a habitable floating island in the Pacific Ocean made from all the plastic waste that is momentarily floating around in the ocean.…

Plastic Birds

Van Mensvoort
October 20th 2009

Bird spotting is not a typical activity for us next nature explorers, yet occasionally we bump into some birds worth mentioning (remember the amazing copy-paste bird, rubber duck XL, the wild birds illegally immigrating into city Zoo, or the plastic flamingos that almost became extinct?)…

Designing Bugs That Eat Plastic

Van Mensvoort
December 9th 2009

It is a well known secret that plastic hardly breaks down and almost all of the plastic ever made still floats around somewhere.…