We use clear bags for sweets, food, clothes, medicines, garbage, water, stationary, paper, art, etc. After using them, sometimes, we throw them away. And they go flying about, nonchalantly. They are so thin and light. It doesn’t seem like they could do anything substantial on their own.
In following series of photographs, a colloquial clear bag is the protagonist. This is an attempt to search for beauty in ordinary life; look for answers; and maybe documenting process of a slow beautiful death. It is an attempt to show beyond what is clear.
Plastics, one of the wonderful inventions of 20th century, has replaced the traditional material (paper / cloth etc.,) as packing and carry bags because of cost of convenience. But at this cost, we are going to pay heavily with the lives our children.
Plastic recycling in India is only 47%. Where does the rest 53% go? Where is it thrown away? The plastic waste is now considered as environmental hazard due to the “Throw away culture”. The hazards plastics pose are numerous.
The land gets littered which is ugly as well as unhygienic. Seeing landscapes full of garbage regularly can affect a healthy state of mind and hence retards development.
Bags find their way into city drainage system; resulting blockage causes difficulty in maintaining drainage with increased cost, creates unhygienic environment resulting in health hazard and spreading of water borne diseases.
Littering also reduces rate of rain water percolating, resulting in lowering water levels to an already existing water shortage.
Soil fertility deteriorates as the plastic bags form part of manure remaining in the soil for years. This results in decreased food quality.
It has been observed that the animals eating the bags sometimes die.
Fish and other marine species in oceans and waterways, misunderstanding plastic garbage as food items swallow them and die.
Knowing all this, people still throw away plastic bags. I don’t understand why…
Shilpa Gavane, is a photographer and an architect. Her early works on cyanotypes tended towards formal abstraction with a strong sense of aesthetics. Her more recent work is more contemporary and innovative, questioning the purpose and meaning of photography and addressing issues of sustainability.