Everything you desire is garbage, or will be eventually. That’s the message behind “Everything You Buy is Rubbish,” an art campaign by a group of Goldsmiths, University of London students who wanted to give form to consumerism’s “plastic legacy.” Charles Duffy, William Gubbins, and Bill Turvey trawled England’s beaches for plastic trash before melting down and molding the resulting material into a pair of multicolored sneakers, which they then placed front and center in a series of satirical ads.
“We made these shoes out of 100 percent rubbish found on U.K. shoes,” one poster proclaims. “And we could make a whole lot more.” Another declares that the same plastics developed during our grandparents’ time will likely outlive our grandchildren. A pixelated pastiche of Nike’s swoosh punctuates each sentiment, complete with pseudo-slogans like “100 Percent Rubbish,” “Just Realize It,” and most damning of all, “You Did It.”
Despite its utopian promise, plastic is so ingrained in our lives that it’s “becoming increasingly indistinguishable and inseparable from nature,” say Duffy, Gubbins, and Turvey, who were inspired by Stephen Emmott’s call for consuming less in the book Ten Billion.
“Contemporary footwear spends barely a fraction of its life hugging a foot,” they write on their website. “For the majority of its life it is rubbish. Whether in a landfill or washed up on a shoreline, the synthetics within the shoes—in addition to the plethora of plastic we discard—will take centuries to break down.”
Tens of thousands of tons of plastic debris already litter the surface of the world’s oceans, according to some estimates. Roughly 8 million pieces of marine litter enter the seas and oceans every day.
“We have created a plastic legacy that will be felt for generations,” the trio adds.