Your toothbrush is obviously made of plastic, but did you know that there's probably plastic in your toothpaste as well? Even flavored tea, ice cream and salad dressing have plastic in them. Plastic is everywhere.
In less than a hundred years, plastic has become the most widely used material on the planet. It's versatile, it’s easy to mass-produce and it’s durable. Too durable. The vast majority of all the plastic we've ever made still exists somewhere on the planet, much of it broken down into tiny little bits that wind up in the soil, the water and eventually in the food chain. And plastic is just one of the many types of problematic waste materials we're generating every day on a massive, unprecedented scale. We’re in big trouble.
So what can do we do about it? Recycling, even if we all did it, will never be enough. Every decision we make – what we buy, how much we use and what we do with the waste – makes a difference, for better or for worse. We must seriously reduce the amount of stuff we produce and consume. That won't be easy, because it challenges the model of never-ending growth our whole economy is based upon. But life on this planet doesn't follow that model, so it's up to all of us to find a better one.
The responsibility is in our hands.
A downpour of glass bottles crashes onto a mountain of green glass. How many bottles of soda, water, juice or beer have you bought today? How about this week, this year, or during your whole life? The more stuff we buy, the more waste we produce, and Panama produces the second highest amount of trash per person in Latin America. This video pays homage to the synthetic landscapes generated by our consumer-driven culture.
Animated by the wind, plastic bags, paper cups and other garbage get stuck in a fence. The colorful result highlights an ironic quality of plastic: it can be beautiful despite being one of our most insidious waste products.
Two rivals play a seemingly innocent game on a concrete platform in Panama City’s Metropolitan Natural Park, little by little piling a mountain of plastic bottle caps on the forest floor. In the same way, we often go about our daily lives without considering how all the consequences of our actions gradually add up.
THE VOICE ADRIFT
An imperceptible message is spoken into a plastic bottle and set adrift on the currents of runoff formed by one of our typical downpours. The message and its perilous journey to an unknown recipient represent both the frailty and resilience of humanity – and the importance of cooperation and communion – in the face of the extreme weather events caused by climate change. Panama City already suffers from severe flooding because we clog our sewage system with garbage and pave over wetlands, and things will only get worse if we do not curb our consumption levels and learn to generate less waste.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Donna and Jonathan live and work in Panama. They have collaborated since 2006, creating videos that use the intrinsic properties of common objects to playfully comment on national identity and social behaviors, such as mass consumerism. The artists implicate themselves in the works, enabling us to recognize and question the conflicted nature of our relationship with the world around us.