Monday, June 20, 2011

Thank You for Littering

My recent trip to Mexico ended up being a lesson in impermanence.  We visited the ruins at Monte Alban, Mitla, and Teotihaucan, whose perforated historical documentations have archeologists scratching their heads as to what actually happened there.  A bulk of these civilizations' traces had been reclaimed by nature, because, for the most part, they biodegraded.  In addition to this tidbit of the transience of things, my airplane reading happened to be Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, who recommend a paradigm shift from "being less bad" to a "production of good waste".  In other words, instead of believing that our waste must be destructive in nature, we should consider Nature's model of waste as food.  Biodegradable waste is not waste, but nutrient.

Now, back in San Francisco with McDonough and Braungart's words fresh in my head, I encountered one of those irritating little events that all business owners are familiar with:  I ran out of business cards.  But, knowing that the blitz-white, ink-jet matte card paper from Avery contains petroleum-based chemicals to give it that sleek patina, and that these chemicals may be thrown into the recycling without being made for recycling, I started thinking of another solution.  After all, the life cycle of my business card in the age of smartphones is pathetically short.  As soon as my information is entered into a Contacts list, my business card becomes trash: bent, stained, and discarded into a landfill.

The result is shown above:  my business leaf.  I gathered eucalyptus leaves from the park across from my apartment and wrote on them with Sharpie pens, which are non-toxic and contain only a fraction of a percentage of the harmful chemicals of a wet newspaper leaching onto the sidewalk.  So, if I happen to run into you and give you my leaf, then please save my email address... and thank you for littering.