I went to a LIVEWELL workshop seminar last night and heard all sorts of statistics about plastic and plastic bags. Plastic manufacture is responsible for 6% of oil production, about a third of that is plastic bottles. Every square mile of ocean contains about 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. It’s estimated that plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to break down, so when a bird or animal dies and decays after consuming a bag, the plastic re-enters the environment, an ongoing threat to wildlife.
So plarn, my craft material of circumstance, will be around for up to 1000 years – forever when it finally breaks down into nano particles. Is that a good thing for my craft or a crap thing for the universe? My plarny creations will disintegrate eventually into a plastic mist and escape into our waterways into plants, fish, animals, and us – as the recent discovery of plastic in packaged sea salt has made clear.
Sometimes I wonder whether I shouldn’t use plastic to make stuff – but as long as I am remaking something I have found that others have discarded, and not purchasing more plastic, maybe that’s a good thing – it’s keeping the stuff out of landfill and useful for longer. And making me think about what I’m doing, what we’re all doing to ourselves.
I’m trying to think about how I name my objects. One plarn bag can take hundreds of bags to make – using up a huge number of the things – but a teenee weenie speck in the number that are sold daily in my city, let alone the whole world. I can keep count of the number of plastic bags it takes to crochet a bag and then name it by that number and sub title it as a percentage of the number of plastic bags manufactured over the world in one day: 100/1000000.
Or I can name it by the number of years my new tote bag will remain after I’ve gone.