Plastic Flags

In Digital, Nature

Over the years I’ve taken on some pretty unusual photo projects, like when I photographed all the screws I found on my walks through the neighborhood, or when I spent a month taking photos of birds on wires, but the one I started a few weeks ago just might take the cake.I’ve started photographing the bits of plastic that I find attached to the barbed wire fences I drive past on a regular basis.  I don’t even know how the idea popped into my head, but I know I had been thinking about this one for several months before I finally just gave in and started it to appease my brain.  I’ve been really conflicted about this project, too.  One part of me is horrified that there is so much available subject matter and the other part of me is fascinated by the variety of what I find and the way the pieces flap and thrash in the gusty Colorado winds. Each piece I find is unique.  Some look like they’ve been clinging to the barbed wire for ages and others could have just drifted over moments before I arrived.  I think one reason I’ve been drawn to take pictures is to capture how the plastic seems to wave and contort itself in an elaborate dance.   I’m entranced.  In some of the images, the pieces almost look like prayer flags, although these have been hung haphazardly and only seeming to draw attention to our messy consumer habits.The first time I went out to photograph, I made sure to bring a trash bag with me so I could collect the pieces after I captured them with my camera.  As I was walking from section to section on the fence, it dawned on me that I had brought a PLASTIC bag to collect the plastic I was photographing.  The irony hit me hard.  After I’ve cleaned up what I’ve taken photos of, what should I do with it?  It seems wrong to just put it in the trash, but can it even be recycled?  After doing a bit of research, I discovered that you can only recycle clean, dry, plastic and usually it requires drop-off at a special facility.  It wasn’t my intention when I started, but it turns out that this project has extraordinary timing with Earth Day just a few days away.  April 22nd marks the anniversary of the environmental movement started in 1970 and the big emphasis for 2018 is on ending plastic pollution.  I’m still not sure where this project will lead me.  It’s raised so many questions, especially about my own usage and habits and what I want to do with the images when I feel like I’m done.   But one thing is certain:  I know that my work has already had an impact.  I’m excited to be able to use my skills with a camera to possibly inspire change.  Be on the lookout for more to come!  

Trying to do my part – Angie

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