Saturday, May 10, 2008


Browsing through the Environment section at the Sydney Morning Herald, I came across Miranda Devine's terrifying account of the horrors that (presumably) she suffered at Bunnings:

Without plastic bags we would all buy less, goes the thinking. But, of course, we won't. Hence you have the ludicrous situation at Bunnings where a customer buys a small, but nonetheless unwieldy bag of potting mix (in dirty plastic wrapping), a tape measure, a paint-sample pot, marker pens, pest oil and a bottle of Thrive, and is expected to carry it all out of the store in her arms, thus making filthy her white shirt, because Bunnings is a good environmental citizen and no longer provides plastic bags, or only reluctantly and for 10 cents a piece.
10 cents? Plastic bags cost that in Finland in the early nineties. But, don't let that stop us sympathising with Devine's filthy suffering, while feeling "paranoid" about malaria(*) and mourning the loss of mood lighting. It's all just terrifying, isn't it? And here I was worrying, after doing a quick count yesterday after seeing a local road in complete gridlock on a Saturday. More than 80% of the cars had one person in them.

To ease our terror, some happier finds on the net. Alchemy Goods is another company making things from waste. Of particular interest to me, of course, is this statement about the bags made from old billboards (mine is from a different company):
We then created a new bag design that minimizes waste material in the pattern.
Based on my experience, bags would lend themselves well to a zero-waste approach. And there is something nice about making things from waste and not wasting any of the waste.

'Fashion Conscious' opens this week at the Design Museum at the University of California Davis. I can't remember if I've mentioned the associated blog - worth a read, even if somewhat product-focused. And a reminder that the symposium is next Sunday.


(*) I assigned this article as a reading to my students a couple of years ago for a tutorial discussion. Of course it's easy for me to say now, but I was careful not to colour any student's opinion about it prior; just read it and we'll talk about it in class. My, was I unprepared for the response. The hostility (towards the author) was almost frightening, but in the end we agreed it was a good example of a selective use of stats to push a particular political agenda. I look forward to reading what she has to say about flame retardants, found in high concentrations in Peregrine Falcons in California. The reason I bring up the Peregrine? Its global population plummeted in the 1960s and 1970s because of DDT. Since recovering, the falcons have adapted to city life, nesting in skyscrapers worldwide. They may be one of the more efficient means we have of keeping pigeon populations under control. I do remember an article about upset locals somewhere in England complaining that children had been subjected to the sight of a Peregrine killing a pigeon (can't find it now) but it's not really a discussion worth entering into, is it? Happy Sundays.

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