- 11:50 am - Sat, Oct 13, 2012
- 59 notes
In the article Recycling as a Crisis of Meaning, Max Liboiron analyzes the campaigns that encourage us to recycle, and the more complicated reality that they obscure. It’s an interesting read.
In laymen’s terms, recycling is “good for the environment.” It involves “doing your bit” to help “save the Earth.” Yet recycling requires high expenditures of energy and virgin materials, and produces pollutants, greenhouse gases and waste; it creates products that are “down-cycled” because they are not as robust as their predecessors, nor are such products usually recyclable themselves….
How is the schism between the popular perception of recycling as “good for the environment” and its less environmentally sound industrial processes maintained? By critiquing the visual culture of recycling campaigns, I argue that the meaning of recycling has been decontextualized, narrowed, and naturalized, thus functioning as a commodity-sign. That is, recycling has been “abstracted from [its] context and then reframed in terms of the assumptions and interpretive rules of the advertising framework” through which it is promoted.
The designers that produce campaign material are not given a handbook about the industrial process of recycling and asked to impede waste reduction or community formation. The legibility of a campaign depends on its ability to be recognized by the public, which in turn depends on the advertisement’s use of meanings that are already in common circulation. Yet using this interpretive currency and the creation of commodity-signs leads to an impoverishment of public language and meanings. In the case of recycling, this has acute consequences.
Read it here: Recycling as a Crisis of Meaning « Discard Studies