Art and the Reusable / by The Green Medium

I have a confession- I’m a bit of a hoarder. Now I’m not at all at the point of needing reality TV intervention, but still. I like to hold on to little things that I might use in a project “one day” or clothes that I never wear but might wear “one day”. I don’t need nearly as much stuff as I have, and a lot of these items are disposable, or just unnecessary, but at some point I talked myself into purchasing it. Thanks consumerism. I’ll be discussing things to do with excess stuff, particularly from the perspective of an art student and an art student who will be moving across the country into a considerably smaller space.

 I have tons of art supplies and things that just take up space. This year I upgraded my paint collection without finishing off my lower quality tubes. I have drawers full of scraps of paper, different strings, and other miscellaneous crafty things. In a sense it is a positive thing that all these items that many would be considered garbage aren't ending up in a landfill. But I’m not using them! Thank goodness for thrift shops and The Reuse Center. Now I sure you all know the benefits of thrift shops, and if not, there are some past articles on The Green Medium on thrifting. The Reuse Center is truly a magical place. It's the perfect place for those things that you can’t see being purchased second hand, but aren't garbage, like seasonal decorations, old records, vases, and used calendars. Donating your things is free and easy, just look at their online criteria.  You can find some interesting donations there! Also, it's extremely cheap, you can get any amount of random craft materials, home decor, or books  for the small sum of five dollars. Centers like this are great at reducing waste and encouraging the community to reuse objects.

Here it is in all its glory.

Here it is in all its glory.

 Art is another way we can reduce the amount of waste in our lives. I’m not suggesting that you MUST start making art with all your garbage. Consider if someone else could use what you plan on throwing out. Poubelle de Bernar Venet by Arman (1970) is an interesting art piece that leads viewers to question what we are throwing away. It is essentially an accumulation of all the trash a certain individual produced for a period of time, displayed in a glass box. Arman suggested this created a portrait of the individual that tells viewers more about the person than a traditional portrait. I agree. The trash we produce is quite telling of our preferences and our lifestyles. Seeing all your trash at once would be an incredibly eye opening experience. I’m sure I would be unpleasantly surprised at what my trash biography looks like. But it’s never too late to make adjustments.

Poubelle de Bernar Venet, Arman, 1970

Poubelle de Bernar Venet, Arman, 1970

 Since I will be moving at the end of the summer, and will not be able to take all my random supplies with me, I will have to make a few trips to The Reuse Center, or finally do those projects I’ve been thinking of doing. When I’m in Toronto, I’ll have to be much choosier about what I hold on to. Partially because I won’t have the storage space I have here for potential supplies, and mostly because I know I do not need all that stuff, and I want to reduce my waste. The easiest solution is to only buy or pick up stuff you know you will be using or have an immediate plan for. That seems incredibly simple and obvious, but we are taught to want more than we need, so it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Art can be an effective way to reuse objects that would otherwise been thrown out. However, you obviously don’t have to like making “art” to reuse things. Just consider what you are throwing out. Could someone else use it? And before you purchase or pick up anything consider if you really need it. This is an extremely simple way to do a bit of good for the earth.