Peeling back the plastic curtain

The plastic industry boomed after World War II. It allowed for military success, as it made airplanes lighter, parachutes sturdier, and was cheap to produce during the rations and budget cuts of war. Productions of plastic increased by 300 percent at the time. When the war was over and the soldiers came home, the material seemed full of possibilities, redefining the makeup of cars, furniture, and household goods. The world of plastic — cheap, easy, safe — was a dream world for the modern American.

But it didn’t take long for reality to sink in. Plastics were polluters. There was nothing safe about them. The material, which takes years to decompose in the natural world, releases toxic gasses when it does. It produces toxic gasses when it is created. The pieces not properly taken care of are choked on by wildlife.

Since these realizations, companies have taken strides to squash their plastic use. Consumers are swapping single-use items for sustainable, long lasting products. It has become a noticeable plight, and now, a campaign issue. However, there is one innovation that is still needed. Transparency. Plastics have become so ingrained in our daily lives that it is hard to tell what has plastic and what does not. We are still living in a plastic dream world -- we just don’t always know it. The enemy can hide in plain sight.

This project was based around the idea of exposing hidden plastics. By taking the bottom of a plastic water bottle and taping it over the camera lens, we can no longer see these products without seeing the material hidden inside. The plastic is clearly visible. It seems dreamlike, possibly euphoric, but there is also something deeply unsettling underneath. By making our plastic use more transparent, we can make our lives more sustainable. We just need to know where it is.

Peeling Back the Plastic Curtain

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