Festival of Stuff talk: Plastic Fantastic with Mark Miodownik

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Institute of Making

Malet Place

London

WC1E 7JE

United Kingdom

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*** Ticket bookings go live on Tuesday 28 May at 8pm. ***

For us it seems completely normal to buy a cup of coffee, drink it, and throw the cup away. But it was not always normal, in fact for most of history it would have been regarded as a sign of madness. Materials were expensive, cups were valuable, and to throw something away after only one use was the road to poverty and ruin. So how did disposable products ever become a thing? The answer is that we had to be taught to like throwing things away, to accept it as normal. The story of how this happened is the story of twentieth century capitalism; yes of our liberation and wealth, but also of a growing environment catastrophe.

The villain in the story is, of course, plastic. This is sad not just because plastic is an extremely useful and valuable material, but because at the beginning of the twentieth century, plastic brought us modernity. The telephone, the radio, and the TV all came into our lives as marvellous plastic stuff. More plastics followed, changing the way we lived in almost every way, from footwear to furniture, from stockings to tennis racquets. Indeed a poll in the 1940s ‘cellophane’ was rated the third most beautiful word in the English language.

The answer isn’t to ban plastics. They are massively useful not least in our homes, hospitals and transport systems. The way forward is for us to engage more with plastics, to build trust in and a love of plastics again. It is only by understanding that they are indispensable, and relearning how to value them, that we will summon the political will to end the era of disposability.

Join our Festival of Stuff evening talk by Institute of Making Director Mark Miodownik to reinvigorate your relationship with plastics.

Mark will explore the materiality of the plastics with demos and samples.

This workshop is part of the Festival of Stuff.


Date and Time

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Institute of Making

Malet Place

London

WC1E 7JE

United Kingdom

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