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A Natural Cycle?

Why is it that the capitalist West has accumulated more resources than human history has ever witnessed, yet appears powerless to overcome poverty, starvation, exploitation, and inequality? What are the mechanisms by which afuence for a minority seems to breed hardship and indignity for the many? Why does private wealth seem to go hand in hand with public squalor? Is it, as the good-hearted liberal reformist suggests, that we have simply not got around to mopping up these pockets of human misery, but shall do so in the fullness of time? Or is it more plausible to maintain that there is something in the nature of capitalism itself which generates deprivation and inequality? Terry Eagleton

I am focusing on the gesture of throwing away. This is a gesture many of us make more than 10 times in a day. Each person in the UK in the year of 2011 produced 445kg of waste, of this 43% was recycled (source defra.gov.uk). We are more and more awake to sustainability and pollution in my lifetime I have seen recycling go from the outsider to the mainstream, now we even have separate bins on the street in some places! I love it, but are we just finding ways to justify our consumption? We are taking baby steps in a time of crisis, we are so far away from being sustainable. You consume a bottle of drink and its recycled you still throw it away, but somehow this action has been given redemption. Now it will be processed, and then remade, filled with more drink and brought back to you. All of this uses energy, produces a carbon footprint and contributes to environmental harm. Each kg of plastic produces 6kg of carbon, each recycled kg of plastic still produces 3.5kg of Carbon - and thats without the contents! (Source: Pusch, Thema Umwelt, 1/2009, p. 3) Most plastics degrade during reprocessing and have only one successful recycling. Therefore, plastics from widely-collected products such as soft drink bottles and milk jugs often are downcycled into nonrecyclable items like fleece clothing and plastic lumber (How many times can something be recycled, Mike Williams Green Living, National Geographic) I want to make a video performance taking the action of throwing away a 1.5l bottle, 365 times. Each time I pick up and re-throw away the bottle I will take a piece of charcoal equivalent of the amount of carbon it would have produced in the process and draw around it, creating a carbon print. I am taking my data for this from the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable, and will use the amount of carbon equivalent to producing a 1.5l bottle of water. This is 160g of carbon, only 38% of which is producing the PET bottle (So for a recycled bottle it still produces 134.7g carbon). By the end of my performance I will have created a real carbon footprint for the consumption of 1 bottle of water every day for a year. The video will be angled slightly above, pointing downwards, so you can see the footprint being created. I would like this video to be displayed as shown in the picture below. On the left hand will be a pile of assorted plastic amounting to 1kg, in front will be 6kg charcoal. On the right will be assorted plastic amounting to 1kg with 3.5kg Charcoal in front of it. In front of the video will be one bottle with 160g charcoal in a pie chart with the 38% slightly separated. Displayed in front of each will be the information. The video could either be projected or shown on a screen. If there is not enough space for the two larger kg piles I could have them either side of me in the video, and in the installation just the bottle with the charcoal piechart. I hope by visually creating these quantities in the space to spark questions, green consumption is still consumption. Recycling is important but can it be allowed to be a bandaid on the bigger question of how we are living our lives?

Installation View