Plastic causes environmental problems, but the material also has its advantages. It’s not black or white. We must think differently about plastic and reconsider the way we are accustomed to treat it. Designers play a crucial role in that necessary change.
Plastic is considered a cheap material that is easily discarded of. With all its consequences. We currently realise the urgency of plastic as the cause of an environmental problem, but at the same time it is hard to imagine a world without it. For example, think of applications in the medical field, in the field of electricity, in cars and aircrafts and in household appliances.
Designers can show us how to look at plastic differently. By developing alternatives. By designing plastic products that are longer lasting, easier to separate and therefore easier to recycle. By devising methods and systems to collect plastic in a meaningful way. By reusing and upcycling plastic in new products. And, certainly, also when it comes to creating (emotional) value so that users experience plastic products differently.
In a surprising and stimulating way, the Embassy of Rethinking Plastic shows the possibilities related to plastic, how to deal with it differently, and what kind of alternatives there are. Think of lampshades made from agricultural waste, plastic-like material based on human hair, and flowerpots made from recycled bottle caps fished from the Amsterdam canals.