The art of the plastic bag

Subway Animals Come to Life via RubenMiller

Via Reuben Miller, here’s a story from the Wooster Collective about an artist who makes animal figures out of discarded plastic bags.  Tied to the ventilation grates above the subway lines, the figures jump up and spring to life whenever the subway rushes by. 

Here’s a video of the Air Bear and another of the Air Zoo from  Also the name of the artist:  Joshua Allen Harris.

A simple and creative way to deal with a chronic problem.  What to do with all those used plastic bags? The ugly truth about our plastic bag addiction is that the world’s consumption rate is now estimated at well over 500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billion) plastic bags annually, or almost 1 million per minute.  More plastic bag facts: 

–The U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually.  An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags.
–Recycling rates for plastic bags are extremely low.  Only 1 to 3% of plastic bags end up getting recycled.

Recycled plastic bag chicken from Wow! Imports

Wow! Imports offers one possible solution.  This recycled, fair trade plastic bag chicken is handcrafted by disadvantaged crafters in South Africa.  The chickens are made from a wide range of colorful recycled plastic.  No chicken is alike.  Some even have logos from Fanta and Coca Cola. 

Mark Jenkins’ How to Make a Plastic Bag Eating Giraffe

Artist Mark Jenkins takes a different approach.  Jenkins advocates making tape giraffes to eat the plastic bags. 

Argentinean designer and artist Marina Gryciuk uses techniques such as crochet and embroidery to reuse bags, cassette plastic tapes and old cloths.  These cushions are knitted from recycled plastic grocery bags.

The message is clear: Reuse and Recycle

Related MadSilence posts:  Tape Art Redux: the Aesthetics of Tape 


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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dalspot
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 11:39:27

    That’s really cool! I didn’t know you could be so creative with plastic bags. My favorite is the chicken. It reminds me of some dolls from the 60s or early 70s, made of plastic.

    My household reuses or recycles all plastic grocery bags.


  2. jafabrit
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 20:35:22

    oh my god, I LOVE the subway animals, that is just soooooooo COOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!

    I like your new template :)


  3. Jay Brown
    Apr 10, 2008 @ 13:36:55

    I think its amazing that you have used garbage, a common site on the subway, to create animals, something you dont see on the subway. great contrast.


  4. leafless
    Apr 12, 2008 @ 03:14:53

    These artworks are really nice. They are also brought awareness to our environmental problems. Recycling and the arts. They really compliment each other.


  5. MadSilence
    Apr 14, 2008 @ 07:02:14

    Thanks, Dalspot, Jafabrit, Jay Brown and Leafless for your comments. There’s more to come on the art of the plastic bag, so watch out for a following post.


  6. dmariemart
    Apr 24, 2008 @ 07:57:05

    It is so cool when trash can be turned into art, especially when that trash is not biodegradable.


  7. Ya'el Pedroza
    May 06, 2008 @ 01:44:25

    I am so moved by people who are dedicated to using the arts as a way of communicating such serious issues as our plastic consumption. I am also an artist who focuses on similar issues such as plastics in our oceans, and how plastics are integrating into our DNA and causing major diseases in many people. To view videos of the plastic island phenomena in the ocean go to
    make sure to watch the extras. It is very scary.
    And check out my site to view my translation of human refuse and Geneticaly modified organisms.


  8. Ya'el Pedroza
    May 06, 2008 @ 01:45:42

    woops forgot to leave my site.
    Thank You, Ya’el


  9. Ruby Re-Usable
    May 10, 2008 @ 01:08:09

    cool post about plastic bags, I love those chickens (I own two).

    IF you are interested in reading more about artists who use plastic bags, checkout Olympia Dumpster Divers post, “This IS a plastic bag”:

    and also please check out Ruby Re-Usable’s wonderful Wonderbread plastic bag art:


  10. MadSilence
    May 10, 2008 @ 03:59:04

    Thanks Diane. This post has proven so popular I’m planning a sequel. Ruby Reusable is in my notes. Also researching posts on environmental and recycled object art.

    And Ya’el, thank you for commenting as well.

    Thanks for your comments. MadSilence


  11. Trackback: Plastic bag art: the sequel « MadSilence
  12. Trackback: Olympia Dumpster Divers » Blog Archive » Plenty o’ Plastic Posts
  13. Wow Imports
    Jul 15, 2009 @ 17:00:23

    Hey! Thanks for posting our recycled platic bag chicken! Visit our site to see the entire collection of chickens, roosters and more!


  14. Eileen Grippo
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 18:47:55

    Once I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Is there any means you possibly can take away me from that service? Thanks!


  15. Kim
    Jan 25, 2014 @ 12:50:03

    “The art of the plastic bag | MadSilence” in fact enables me personally imagine a tiny bit more.
    I actually cherished each and every individual element
    of this post. I appreciate it ,Quentin


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