Inflatable with reused plastic in East Boston

Our friends in NOAH, East Boston, learnt the lesson and made their own giant inflatable pillow for the Urban Wild Solstice party. Remember that we have an open DIY manual, waiting for your contribution!

Nice sunset where the Charles river meets the sea!

IMG_2713 IMG_2674 IMG_2734


How to make inflatables in 8 steps: Cut + Paste + Inflate + Dive

We made a “How to make your own inflatable with reused plastics” workshop at th  Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), East Boston, Massachussetts (EEUU). They have already worked with waste before and now they wanted to learn the tech to build a bigbubble in the next  Urban Wild the next Summer Solstice.  In 2 hours we could go through some theory thanks to the Inflatocookbook by Ant Farm and the  inflatable uide in Portuguese de Basurama Brasil and build a small bubble.

We’ve started a new version of the manual in English:

As a new motto: make your door in the direction of the wrinkles.

1. Cut


2. Paste


2 (cont) Paste (with heat)

Iron Man!

Iron Man!

3. Fold


4. Prepare the fan

Prepare the fan

5. Inflate


6. Dive in

Stay inside

7. Stay inside

Dive in

8. Be born (again)

Be born (again)

… and document

Step by step guide to picture 2 tons of waste

The MIT Media Lab “The Other Festival” and this activity were cancelled because of the Boston Marathon bombings.

More info and participants web page.

Updated April 8th 2013

We are working on the logistics for the Picturing 2 tons of waste installation. I’ve made an initial draft of how we want to proceed with the rearrangement of waste. The first approach is to classify waste by material (recyclables, food waste, wood, metal, etc). Then to organize waste by color and then use that separation to construct different data visualization. It’s yet unclear if we are going to be able to weight it, maybe measure volume and estimate weight? The data visualizations can be based on the numbers extracted from previous MIT or Cambridge audits.

Any feedback?

If you plan to attend the event to sort waste with us send an email to: boston [at] (more…)

How to picture 2 tons of waste?

Once in a while, the Recycling Department of the Cambridge Department of Public Works organizes a volunteer sorting of waste. A city truck collects a sampling of trash of residential buildings from a specific neighborhood. Trash gets sorted into different categories (cardboard, fibers, commingled, rigid plastics) and other trash to calculate the amount of waste that is not being recycled. The outcome of the process is the data, but what if we make this process public and invite people to ‘jump’ into waste? Can we make the process visually fun and compelling without compromising privacy issues?

The performance-installation consist of the reordering of 2 tons of waste. When we rearrange waste, we no longer see a ‘grey’ mix: we understand that waste is made of things, things that were objects once, that are objects now, objects that are made of materials. During the day, waste will be rearranged by type of material, color or shape forming a series of data visualizations related to waste and recycling in Cambridge.

We want to decode trash and make it pretty and understandable. Our aim is to use trash as the construction material and also as the subject of our data visualization installation. Therefore, we’ll use trash to build graphics about trash itself!

When? Whole day. April 20th 2013
Where? Outside the MIT Media Lab, during the Media Lab Festival.

Write boston [at] if you want to join: sorting and rearranging waste, thinking together which visualizations we could make…

(In)Visibility: PET Bottle Installation at Wellesley College

Completed installation, view from below

On November 9th and 10th, contemporary artist Willie Cole joined a group of Wellesley College students and faculty to contribute to an installation, made primarily out of plastic PET water bottles. The project’s inspiration and origins have a long history; the goal rests on making visible a component of the campus’ waste stream, and transforming materials that have an associated negative environmental impact to a form with a positive social influence.

All aspects of the project’s process, from its conception, to its design, to collecting bottles, to physically building the installation, were done in collaboration with many others. It was great to experience a community build around this project, and to see the connections and trust that I relied on throughout the project.

The final piece demonstrates an evolution of the PET water bottles – generally, from their original state to schools of fish. Over a thousand PET bottles, in various forms, are strung on over 20 wires that span the vertical height of the display location. The bottles begin at the bottom of the piece in their most “pure” or least-adapted form, after their labels have been removed. They fluidly “evolve” to the next stage, where the bottles begin to take form – the bottom of the bottle is molded into a mouth shape. At the top of the piece we see plastic fish. The bottles are altered to have a fish-like mouth, a tail (made out of used plastic bags), and eyes.

The installation is vertically suspended in the Campus Center, in a space called the Impluvium. The Impluvium is a 12’x4’ wide vertical glass channel, that spans from the roof of the building to the basement, 63’ in height. It is open to the sky on the top, so rain and snow can fall through, and it acts as the primary air draw for the building’s ventilation system. To get to the top floor of the Campus Center, people walk up stairs that circle around the Impluvium. This means people can see anything that goes through the space – rain, snow, occasional leaves, and now strings of clustered (“schooling”) plastic PET bottles evolving into plastic fish.

If you would like to see the installation, it is hanging at Wellesley College’s Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center, and will be displayed until the end of the semester.

Please contact me (Elli Blaine) at [email protected] if you have any further questions, or if you wish to coordinate displaying the installation at another location.

Installation location, pre-PET fish, view from below

Pre-sorted collected bottles

Cleaned PET bottles

Students work nights to hang the installation - Em Gamber, Gabriela Lanza, Rebecca Leung, and Elli Blaine. Photo by Elsa Sebastian.

Schooling PET fish

Waste Pickers topic at The Waste reading group

In the third meeting of the Waste reading group at MIT we will be talking about “waste pickers”. Everyone is welcome!

When: Monday, November 26, 9-10:30am,
Where: E14-240 (Media Lab, second floor). MIT. Cambridge, MA. USA
Moderated by Lucía Fernández + Pablo Rey

This is the list of readings:

Interesting quote about the work of waste pickers and their environmental benefits in the Anne Scheinberg text:

Informal valorization is a direct economic benefit to the informal valorizers, many of whom would otherwise have no work. It also creates positive externalities for municipal authorities, by reducing the amounts of materials requiring disposal, diminishing the CO2 footprint of the solid waste system, and improving performance of disposal facilities (Anschütz and Scheinberg 2004; Scheinberg, Simpson and Gupt 2007; Chaturvedi 2009; Scheinberg, Wilson and Rodic 2010; Medina 1997).

These benefits are threatened by modernization, especially when cities think that they can “get rich” off of “the gold in the garbage.” When cities in low-income countries commit to “recycling,” the result is often conflict over resources and access to the waste materials. Instead of a virtuous circle of increasing economic and environmental benefits, modernization may create a vicious circle of competition for resources, conflicts between public and private sector, interrupted supply chain relationships, and a decline in resource recovery and its associated benefits (Scheinberg 2011).


Willie Cole is coming to campus at Wellesley!

The Project

It will gather together a diverse array of students, faculty, and staff to work together on a project melding ideas of art, sustainability, waste, impacts, interventions, community, reflexivity, and value. Through multi-departmental collaboration and interaction we will create an on-campus installation with artist Willie Cole, after hearing from the artist about his work and process, with a focus on art from reclaimed materials, installations, and more.

Help contribute your time, energy, ideas, and hands to create together something that is meaningful materially and socially.

This is a unique opportunity to work with others on campus along with renown contemporary artist Willie Cole. Willie Cole has displayed his work around the nation and internationally, in venues ranging from the Met and the MoMA, to universities, bus stops, and lawns.


At the Wellesley College. Wellesley, MA. Check location on gmaps.

The Events & Involvement:

November 1st
Recycling Safari [1pm, meet @ Pendleton Atrium] – Join us for a fun exploration of campus buildings to rapidly scavenge and gather materials for the installation.

November 4th
Recycling Safari [8pm, meet @ Pendleton Atrium] – Join us for a fun exploration of campus buildings to rapidly scavenge and gather materials for the installation.

November 5th
(Mini)Installation [8pm, meet @ Pendleton Atrium] – join us to create a mini-installation with bottles in the Pendleton Foyer.

November 9th
Talk [12:30pm, PNW 212] – Hear artist Willie Cole speak about his work, the process of making art out of reclaimed materials, and more. Lunch provided.

[1:30pm] Targeted in-class drop ins with Willie Cole

Workshop & Installation [3pm, Campus Center 413] – Come help make an on-campus installation from plastic drink bottles with Willie Cole. Bring bottles! Light dinner provided.

November 10th
Workshop & Installation
[11:30am, Campus Center 413] . Come finish and install the plastic drink bottle piece with Willie Cole. Bring bottles! Lunch provided.

Come to whatever you can!

Spread the word!

Please send around spam, talk about this with your friends, knock on doors and let others know, tape a message on a bottle and pin it to a bulletin board or give it to someone, collect/save your bottles, put a box on your floor telling others to deposit their bottles for the art installation, make a sign for your hallway, make a mini installation, pull bottles out of recycling cans, write a letter to the editor, post on community, give a brief mention at the end or beginning of classes, and much more.

Have bottles?
Please save them! Email me (eblaine), bring them to the Sustainability Cooperative, or hold onto them until the Recycling Safari (Nov. 1st) or the workshops themselves.


Thanks to the Environmental Studies Program, WEED, Art Department, Applied Arts and the Studio Art Program, Davis Museum Student Advisory Committee, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, Regeneration, Amnesty International and more!

Know others that would like to be involved? Have questions?
Please email me at  eblaine [at]


Double trash events: “Wasteland” (the film) and “A Close Reading of Ocean Plastics” (lecture)

Two trash events for tonight. We’ll be there!

Trash Talk Lecture: Terrible and Charismatic Waste Max Liboiron
Where: Geological Lecture Hall (24 Oxford St., Cambridge) MA, USA.
When: Thursday, February 9, 2011 at 6:00 P.M
“Terrible and Charismatic Waste: A Close Reading of Ocean Plastics,” on . at the Geological Lecture Hall (24 Oxford St., Cambridge). The lecture will be followed by a public reception at the Peabody Museum (11 Divinity Ave.).
Max Liboiron writes in Check it!

Plastics are in every ocean in the world; their complex and largely uncharted effects are intertwined with life on land. Plastic is a unique pollutant that defies current theories of pollution and the pollution-control practices we depend upon.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology and the Harvard Museum of Natural History present the free lecture, “Terrible and Charismatic Waste: A Close Reading of Ocean Plastics,” on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 6:00 P.M. at the Geological Lecture Hall (24 Oxford St., Cambridge). The lecture will be followed by a public reception at the Peabody Museum (11 Divinity Ave.).

In 2001, plastic outweighed plankton in the Pacific Ocean by six to one. Today, that ratio is thirty-six to one. Ocean plastics are outpacing the knowledge and methods designed to investigate and manage them.

While collecting samples from the ocean to measure these plastics, scientists and crew members catch fish for food, and find that their dinner has eaten plastic. They know that plastic chemicals leach and accumulate in the food chain. They decline to eat their catch, but collect the plastics and place them in sample jars.

This illustrated talk will focus on a single sample of ocean plastics taken from the North Pacific Ocean and follow the threads of how it was collected, how samples are used in science and advocacy, their place in the popular imagination, and how an individual specimen can and cannot scale up to illuminate a new global pollution that will characterize the twenty-first century.

The speaker is Max Liboiron, ABD, Department of Media, Culture and Communication, New York University; Regional Co-Director of the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Additional topics in this series include waste ecologies and urban disaster cleanup.  Join us this Spring for an exploration of the anthropology of waste!

Screening of “Wasteland” followed by a conversation with Jackie de Botton, Diana Gabanyi and Tião Santos
When: Thursday, February 9, 2012. 6:30 pm
Where: Tsai Auditorium, CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA, USA.
Organized by: DRCLAS Film Series Event: [email protected] / Brazil Studies Program:

Guest speakers:
Jackie de Botton, Executive Producer for Wasteland and responsible for outreach project Business entrepreneur founder of Rede Extraordinária
Diana Gabanyi, Journalist specialized in integrated communication, international media director of number one Brazilian tennis player Guga Kuerten. Founder Rede Extraordinária
Tião Santos, Main character of Wasteland. Tião Santos is also one of the leaders of the National movement of pickers in Brazil, President of ACAMJG (the Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho)

Wasteland movie info:

The film is in Portuguese, with English subtitles. The screening will be followed by a small reception



Garbage Dreams projection Monday 6 February 2012

Tonight an interesting film Garbage Dreams.

When: Mon, February 2nd 2012. 6:30–8:30 pm
Where: Building 32 Room 123. MIT. Cambridge. MA
Organized by: International Development Initiative, IDEAS Global Challenge, Global Poverty Initiative

Do not miss it.

Garbage Dreams follows 3 teenage boys born into the trash trade and growing up in the world’s largest garbage village, on the outskirts of Cairo. It is the home to 60,000 Zaballeen, Arabic for “garbage people.” Far ahead of any modern “Green” initiatives, the Zaballeen survive by recycling 80% of the garbage they collect. When their community is suddenly faced with the globalization of its trade, each of the teenage boys is forced to make choices that will impact his future and the survival of his community.

As an extra an a kind of introduction we rescue a video we made by Basurama about the Zabaleen (last year in El Cairo):

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There is also an interesting story we found once regarding Spanish corporations and waste in El Cairo (in Spanish).

More info in New York Times Belatedly, Egypt Spots Flaws in Wiping Out Pigs

“waste rubbish trash refuse garbage junk litter ort” Informal Meeting Nov 16 7pm

Now that Trans Trash is over, we would like to meet and talk informally about waste, rubbish, refuse… issues with all the “trash people” we’ve been meeting last months.
It will be happening this Wednesday Nov 16 at 7pm in the bar Miracle of Science. The idea is to get in touch and get to know what trash related issues are you interested in. An informal meeting to share thoughts (and obsessions) without fear.

Send an email to boston [a] if you are interested (to have a senses of how many people are coming), or just stop by.
Send the event to anyone who might be interested!

Lots of trash!
See you there.