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  • Taxonomy of Trash & Kickstarter Project: Studying a Disposable Society Taxonomy-of-Trash Full view

    Taxonomy of Trash & Kickstarter Project: Studying a Disposable Society

    Taxonomy of Trash Kickstarter Disposable society projectWho cares about what we throw away? Why does it matter? And have you ever, truly thought about it?

    The Taxonomy of Trash is determined to find out.

    Back in October 2011, a group of artists were at the Revolution Recovery recycling center right here in Philadelphia to participate in the Recycled Artist-in-Residency program. They realized there were jewels in the rubbish, or dare I say, that ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ .

    The Taxonomy of Trash is an analytical approach to stuff we throw away. They’re building a mobile trash analysis laboratory, publishing a book of photographs and having a multi-media exhibition at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts in April to educate the public through interactive components, helping us reflect on our ‘disposable society’ attitudes.

    Their project needs support on Kickstarter, with the deadline of Sunday, February 24th.

    We asked Tim Eads, artist and founder, a few questions about the Taxonomy of Trash:

    Taxonomy of Trash tables
    Think these are ready for the landfill? Or should they have been reused first?

    Green Philly Blog: What do you hope to learn from the process?

    Tim Eads: I’ve already learned so much. I was surprised by how much “trash” we (the Taxonomy of Trash team) found during our initial project at Revolution Recovery that seemed to be perfectly fine. For example, one day we found 30-40 motorized home hospital beds still in their boxes that only had minor flaws; It’s amazing that they were sent to a recycling center to be scrapped. There were also toys, tools, bowling balls, and 5-gallon buckets that seemed to be mostly unused. Revolution Recovery is the responsible one in this story, not the people who discarded them. To say that we’ve become a “throw away society” is an understatement. Most people I know are conscious of their actions, but I realize my friends represent an amazing group of progressive thinkers and aren’t necessarily representative of the larger American population. We want to approach this project with an open mind and hope to learn something unexpected.

    GPB: The line you mentioned about our ‘throw away society’ strikes a chord with us. We realize a huge part of sustainability is not just what you’re purchasing, but focusing on how reusable a product is before you purchase it.

    Do you want to change the disposal society mindset at all? Have you tried to make changes?

    TE: I think “change” is a strong word and can be off-putting to most people. Our approach isn’t to proselytize the better way, but rather present the information so people make their own conclusions. I have learned to step back and make smarter decisions about things and be less compulsive.

    GPB: How did you become interested in this project?

    TE: After visiting Revolution Recovery, I was captivated by the piles of garbage. Their new artist-residency (RAIR) created a perfect opportunity to explore possibilities in waste usage. I had visited landfills before, but this site was unique because most of the objects were recognizable. Many seemed unused and in near perfect condition, and I felt obliged to capture their beauty in their current state – which was somewhere between user and early in the recycling stream. At this point, I invited others to join the project in hopes of capturing them in their beautiful, unaltered state. After the residency at RAIR, we discussed the possibility of continuing the project in other places. We believe we’re only just beginning this project.

    GPB: How do you think the Taxonomy of Trash will empower the green movement?

    TE: It’s difficult to say what the outcome of the project will be since our findings left us so intrigued, we simply want to approach it with an open mind. Our mission is to be explorers, scientists and anthropologists. We will take our findings and try to boil it down to something worth looking at, but we really want the viewer (not just those involved in the green movement) to make their own determinations about what it means. We prefer to think of it as a healthy way of approaching the infinitely complex world of garbage and recycling.

    Readers, are you intrigued by the project? Find out more about how you can help on the Taxonomy of Trash Kickstarter page.

    If you love what we do, you can support our mission with a one-time or monthly contribution:

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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