Green Lifestyle

Published on July 27th, 2016 | by TerraCycle


Trash Art: 5 Visual Perspectives to Change Your Idea of Trash

Trash is a human invention, a concept that does not exist in nature. Through industry and technology, we have created inventions and innovations that make our lives easier, faster and more convenient, but the tradeoff is often to the detriment of the environment. Our rate of generation and consumption far surpasses our rate of management, and bringing awareness to this key to helping us change the way we think of waste. Trash art is a way to reclaim our waste and make something meaningful out of the problem.

In order to properly manage our waste, we must bring a perspective of value to it. Seeing our garbage as something other than a useless problem to be solved is the first step to sustainable waste management. Keyword: seeing.

Here are five artists and organizations sharing their unique perspective of trash art:

1. Trash as Art: Colorado creative Satya Wimbush wears many hats. An Aurora Cultural Arts District board member and manager of ACAD’s Colfax Avenue gallery, The Collection, and she is the owner and artist behind Trash as Art, seller of upcycled art, furniture and accessories “Trash As Art is exactly what is sounds like. I use old items to create my art. Call it recycling, up-cycling, mixed media, found art, or any other term,” she explains. Patrons can request custom pieces like pendants made of paper, tables and chairs given facelifts, and other commissioned mixed media to order.

trash art

2. Callaway Photo: The daughter of a pastel painter, Ellen Callaway grew up around art and food and ended up pursuing a career in food photography. With the same skill that makes the color and texture of edibles pop on the page, Callaway’s Recycled Beauty photo campaign beautifies recycling and trash art through advertorial style, photographed with a take away message bringing awareness to waste management for different streams. A recent commission for Raw Materials Company addressed cities’ reliance on batteries. The artist works directly with municipalities, industry leaders and manufacturers that want to promote their EPR policy by making recycling an engaging, visually compelling subject people find relatable and motivating.

trash art

3. Michelle Reader: All waste has a past, and for UK artist Michelle Reader, they also have a future. With a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Scenography, her most famous work is a family portrait, known as Seven Wasted Men, that was made from one month of household waste from the family. “The materials not only highlight a need to address the amount of waste each of us produces, but also tells the story of each individual through the things they discard—a child’s drawings, a shopping list, a birthday card,” she says.

trash art

4. Tim Noble and Sue Webster: Tim Noble’s and Sue Webster’s 2004 exhibition Shadow Sculptures is comprised of 7 piles of garbage illuminated by the dark. A haphazard pile of trash at first glance, carefully cast shadows created by just the right angle of light reveal a boy and a girl sitting in chairs with their backs to one another, a city skyline, and Michael Jackson. The creations are impossibly detailed, and made of things like scrap metal, wood slivers, coins and wire.

trash art

5. TerraCycle Design: TerraCycle’s Design team is a dedicated department devoted to upcycling, also known as creative reuse. Conceptualizing upcycled products for brand sponsors, contest prizes, and DIY tips, the Design team has a flair for keeping ours offices looking freshly furnished, and spreading the word of reuse through the community. Earlier this year, we were exhibitors in TRASHED, a juried exhibition hosted by Artworks Trenton meant to educate the viewer about upcycling, and delaying and preventing the accumulation of solid waste through upcycling waste into art, trash art!

trash art

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About the Author

Founded in 2001, TerraCycle, Inc., is the world’s leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste, ranging from used chip bags to coffee capsules to cigarette butts. Each year, across 20 countries, TerraCycle collects and repurposes billions of pieces of waste, donating millions of dollars to schools and charities in the process. To learn more about TerraCycle or get involved in our recycling programs, please visit

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