Tuesday's Visual Treat - Day 2/ Everyday Objects of Extraordinary Design (the brown-paper bag)



Last week's visual treats devoted to Haute Couture inspired by flora elicited many responses from readers.  This one was particularly moving: We had a tiny old lady seamstress that would make clothes for us in Lebanon, it gave me a chance to be my own dress designer for lots less than off the rack. Sadly, Rosa was hit by a shell during the 20 yrs. war & died. She was such a cute little old lady, & made her living with her ancient talented hands!

Today's visual treat is the brown paper-bag, an everyday object of extraordinary design, and hopefully an object which will be utilized in even greater numbers as we question our actions  and values, more closely examine our decisions, and become more socially and environmentally conscious.  Can we ask more of ourselves, our systems of commerce, transportation and production, as well as task our elected and appointed systems of governance and representation with providing ethical transparency and accountability.  What is it that we dare to dream of accomplishing through all this, you ask; well my dear, with the number of landfills rapidly outpaced by the amount of waste that is transported to their respective sites, and thus must be exported to poorer countries willing to accept our toxic waste, even at the risk of the loss of human lives and environmental degradation; and the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch (a swirling sea of plastic bags, abandoned fishing nets, plastic toys, bottles, tiny pellets of non-biodegradable plastics and other waste which is estimated to be larger than France and slightly smaller than the state of Texas) continues to swell and contributes to the death of sea-turtles, birds, seals, fish and other animals; the pollution of rivers through the dumping of industrial waste into the waters of steams and estuaries, as well as environmental disasters such as the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico where 'accidents' occur to the chagrin of industry insiders and the horror of the watching world, it seems to me that about anything and everything that can be implemented sure beats watching the ecological catastrophe continue.

How does the brown paper-bag help in preventing the continued rape of our planet, you ask. It decomposes much more quickly than it closest rival, the plastic bag, and with the advent of new technology and a renewed emphasis on recycling, post-consumer recycled waste can be used in the production of paper bags, paper products such as toilet paper, typing paper, envelopes and stationery products, greeting cards, cardboard boxes, shipping and packing materials, as well as for the purposes of insulation--this a new development in 'green' building construction.  Plus, the paper bag also can be used as an art medium for drawing and masks for the kids at Halloween time; useful in the kitchen for storing fruits and vegetable, baking, popping popcorn, lining drawers and cabinets; and for an activity I once dreaded at the start of every school year--covering new school books with protective covers made from brown paper bags on which we would carefully draw two red lines on which my twin brother and I would write in cursive style our names and the name of the class for which that particular book was intended.  Ever trying covering your school books with a plastic bag??

Seriously, recycle, reuse, re-purpose and refuse to continue the madness called consumerism.  Hit the thrift shops and farmer's markets, join a CSA and experience farm-fresh produce, carry a tote-bag and visit your local libraries where you'll always be welcomed.  Get up from the couch, turn off the TV, walk outside and breathe deeply in the magnificence of what we now have.  If you are so inclined, chant; otherwise plant a tree.

PS:  Sadly, the U.S. is the only industrialized country that refused to ratify the 19-year-old Basel Convention, an international treaty designed to regulate the export of hazardous waste to developing nations. 


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