Monday, December 12, 2016

The Perfection of the Imperfect

One of the qualities that describes the plastic we collect from the beach is Wabi-Sabi. It's one of those Japanese terms that has entered the English vernacular. It points to impermanence, the visual referencing of the imperfect, the ever-changing nature of time itself. When something is exposed to the forces of nature, it changes and time itself is made visible. Even though plastic seems to last forever, when it washes out of the ocean and on to the beach it often has acquired the patina of wabi sabi—the sand-rubbed surface and the accretion of tiny life forms like Bryozoans. 

We appreciate the imperfections and use the dings and abrasions in our aesthetic arrangements. Think shabby chic. 

At home we collect what we call "house plastic" the small bits and pieces of plastic, from bread enclosures to twist ties to pull-tabs, that are unavoidable in our daily lives. This collecting keeps us mindful of the many, almost invisible ways, that plastic has inserted itself into our every day. As the plastic lids from coffee cans stacked up, we were shocked at how many we had. We realized that there were packaging alternatives that did not include plastic. We now buy our coffee in a paper bag. Although this might seem to be an insignificant change, over time it really does make a difference. Just count it up. One can of coffee every two weeks. That is a lot of coffee and 104 plastic lids per year!