Before plastic became ubiquitous, many kitchen items were made from clay. A new movement called More Clay Less Plastic uses art installations and a Facebook group to bring people back to those roots—inviting others to rethink their everyday utensils, to substitute plastic with sustainable materials, and to find and support artists and craftsman.
Founder Lauren Moreira, who lives in Italy, chose the colander as the icon for the movement because “a strainer is an object that every single household in the world has,” and because it was the first utensil to disappear from ceramic production after plastic came along.
Moreira has shown the exhibition More Clay Less Plastic: Change in Your Hand in ten cities around the world, and the movement is growing. “It's amazing how little people know about how dangerous plastic pollution is,” she says. “The visitors are attracted to the ceramic utensils, some of which they have never seen before precisely because they were substituted by plastic. We talk about why we are proposing a step back to natural materials and the audience is very interested, especially kids when they see the pictures of the animals trapped in plastic or killed by plastic.”
So why is clay a compelling material? “No matter how long a ceramic shard lasts, it will never harm the planet,” explains Moreira. “But what is most important for More Clay Less Plastic is the relation between ceramics and food. We are trying to make people go back to using real objects… Most of the worst plastic is the disposable that goes along with the food industry.”
Moreira, who is a potter herself, uses clay in school workshops with children. “I like to present the project in schools and then invite the students to make their own cup. It has a special value and anything that will be drunk from that cup will taste better!”
The More Clay Less Plastic movement recently culminated in a Less Plastic Day on Dec. 19 to create awareness about the problem of plastic pollution. Moreira collaborated with Blair Folts, from Green Mountain Conservation Group and Karen Payne, a science teacher, to present a screening of 'Bag It' at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. The film was followed by a workshop where students made their own shopping bags from old T-shirts.
Moreira also showed Linda Booker's documentary 'Straws' in Venice, Italy, as part of Less Plastic Day, where the film had great impact. “Venice is the water city and one of the most visited places in the world. Disposable plastic is a problem there for the number of people who visit Venice everyday.”
Her vision for the future of More Clay Less Plastic is all about consciousness. “Clay is a means of starting the conversation about plastic pollution. My plan is to present the project in schools as many times as it will be possible. The division of trash in different bins and recycling was started in my house by my son. I'm convinced that if children understand the problem of plastic pollution they will convince their families to have better habits.”