Today the ether is atwitter with quotes from Steve Jobs to “think different”.
Everyone is encouraging everyone to think different.
(A paradox I think)
The TED movement is based on this Steve concept, in fact TED has branded thinking different with “Ideas Worth Sharing” and encourages people from all over to share their ideas, their ways of different thinking, around the globe.
Many people are asking about my TED talk, “How did you get in? How did you do it?”
To be honest it had not occurred to me until I was invited by TED to share my recent work at their next event in Miami.
The evolution of my relationship to what I find on the beach and what I do with it has been organic and compared to the speed of my previous life on 7th Avenue where a new collection was due every six weeks, it was slow.
Slow is good. Slow gave me more time to think . But, because the thoughts happened over an extended period of time, they no longer feel different. They have become part of who I am.
So when I talk about my passion for beach plastic it does not feel like I think different.
Different may well be in the eye of the beholder and it’s in constant flux.
Sixty years ago plastic was a “different” material. It was introduced as the material that would give nature a break because we were depleting wood, bone, ivory etc. Now there is not a moment in our life when we do not interact with it. The entire planet is awash with plastic. Oceans carry plastic particles around like cells in a bloodstream. Plastic has been found in tens of thousands of living species, including us. Single use plastic is no longer giving nature a break, it is suffocating life.
In the past I put my creative work out there, but not the thought behind it. I have always been more interested in the outcome rather than the explanation of the creative process and believe that authenticity resonates on its rightful frequency. But because my work now has an element of activism I succumbed.
I’d hate to preach. I am not here to make any individual feel guilty. I can inspire but I cannot tell you what to do.
(Corporations, hell yes, I’ll make them guilty all day long, as well as government and policy makers).
But as individuals we have free will. We are in charge of our own destiny. We can inform ourselves and choose to act. We can decide to bring our own bags to the supermarket instead of using 20 plastic bags instead. We can recycle, reuse, repurpose and refuse. We have the choice to take responsibility.
My personal transformation started in Eleuthera 8 years ago.
On my first beach walk I noticed, in between the lines in the sand, bright flecks of color. My initial thought was how pretty but then I realized these specks of plastic were not supposed to be there.
By the end of that first walk I had encountered everything that mankind had ever made in plastic.
Crates, chairs, brushes, lids, containers, barrettes, flip flops and sneaker and endless lengths of nylon rope.
Even on this remote “pristine” beach I realized that we live in a man made world.
Being a designer I look at almost everything as shape, color, texture and inspiration and what I saw that day I’d never seen before.
The beach plastic had been tumbled in sand, salt and coral. and was bleached by the sun. It had been in nature for so long that it had taken on a natural patina. Some pieces looked like stone, like little colored gems.
I started picking them up.
My love hate relationship with plastic started in that moment .
Back home I tried to find out more.
I learned that we each consume roughly 300 pounds of plastic a year of which a mere 7% is recycled and 8 million pieces of plastic find their way into the ocean every day.
What could I do?
I had an ever increasing “collection” of beach plastic in my studio and I started making earrings.
Eventually I had an awakening to the possibilities of this material that was never really owned but had been thrown to the mythical place called away.
To make jewelry was a transformation, not just for me, but also for the material.
Think of a water-bottle top. Does anyone ever feel that they own a plastic bottle top? It just keeps the liquid inside the bottle, right? Which you don’t feel you own either. Does the manufacturer of your water feel he owns that bottle?
Nobody owns single-use plastic.
I like finding weathered bottle tops. They make great earrings, and I love selling single use plastic, beach plastic, into ownership.
If plastic is made to last forever then maybe, like diamonds, it can be loved forever.
I got this comment yesterday:
“Keep cleaning up the beaches lady.. but what are you gonna do with all those balloons with the plastic string ties and can you make something with all the garbage those people in Miami leave on the beaches while you’re at it???”
He does NOT think different!
I am not cleaning up the beaches for him or anyone. I do it for me. Creating beauty with beach plastic makes me happy and by getting your attention I implicate you in the tragedy of our single-use throw-away culture.
I hope I make you think.
Not just different.
Different is fleeting.
All the time