A Movement Back to Our Roots: More Clay Less Plastic

By Emily DiFrisco

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 every day.”

Clay is a means of starting the conversation about plastic pollution.

Lauren Moreira

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.”

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21 responses to “A Movement Back to Our Roots: More Clay Less Plastic”

  1. Great initiative. Wish you every success

  2. Amanda Slade says:

    Hello, I am really happy to discover your organisation.
    I’m a Master Mariner, mother and blogger. Check out my post on this very issue of plastics in the waste-stream. I’ve seen the worst up close.

  3. moistceramics@Gmail.com says:

    Awesome and right on with this mission to teach the Children!! Im a ceramic artist and would love to be involved with this project. Where to start, what to do, how to change, who to teach??

  4. Karen Reece says:

    I completely agree, I have just started the purge in my home ! All the Tupper Ware & other plastics I have collected over the last 50 years of marriage have mostly disappeared from this home & have been replaced with glass & ceramics, which I know are much healthier for my family !

  5. lorenaarcos51@gmail.com says:

    I am chilean but I lived 16 years in New York and always had friends over . I NEVER used plastic in any of my partes. Here is considered lack of respect and low class, same like in Europe and parts of Asia.
    The best of luck with this great iniciative. Great way to go

  6. koendewinterdesign@gmail.com says:

    Your effort is well intentioned, but you are comparing apples with oranges. Disposable plastics are indeed a waste and a big problem. But plastic packaging is difficult to replace by ceramics. Even as permanent material ceramics can not beat the most common plastics in durability. Yes a ceramic shard is not dangerous, the pollution is in the production (firing twice at or over 1000˚C) Plastic production requires also energy and also creates CO2 but less than ceramics. What really has to change is people’s behavior. Why throwing plastic and aluminum cans out of car windows, etc. There does not have to be any waste outside of the cycle of using and recycling. I understand your point of view. I am a potter myself, but these are too serious problems to be handled by emotions. We have to look at the facts, accept them and improve. Distortions of the facts never lead to real solutions.

  7. clay has the human touch, made by hands, for hands to use, for food to share

  8. Helene jaconsen says:

    Read José saramago : the Cave
    It is about an old man who makes Pottery that He Can NOT sell because the customers want plastic

  9. Cathryn Hudin says:

    I am so glad to see more awareness about plastic around the world. I have been a potter for over 40 years, and it is gratifying to watch more people choose sustainable household items over disposable ones. When I go to a friend’s house and see them using my bowls and cups I feel a wonderful connection to them. You are communicating with the person drinking from your coffee cup every day. What a great connection.

  10. Dianne l.Barber says:

    A good step in the right direction..

  11. lmcmoreira@hotmail.com says:

    Bravo, Lauren Moreira!

  12. msmith835@gmail.com says:

    I very much agree. Concerning increased recycling, plastic simply does not have the secondary market that aluminum and other metals have. I have just spent time in Germany where stores do not supply plastic bags, and if you don’t bring your own (cloth or other) bags, you can buy them there. It is the way things are, and people adjust to that.

  13. marucuberou@gmail.com says:

    Go ahead with this initiative! Let’s show the world that step by step we can make a difference … #love-nature #love-clay

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