The Trash Art Movement: What's Something Creative You've Done?

If you follow Earth911’s news and feature stories, you’ve probably seen a few articles lately about art made from trash, or “Trart,” as one of our readers called it. From portraits made of used cassette tapes to 16-foot tall hands made of a town’s household waste, we think this creative expression of reuse is pretty cool!

Having long been crafted by creative artists using everything from glass to plastic bags, trash art now finds itself in the spotlight of galleries and the center of art expos nationwide. Trash art, or recycled art, are common art forms these days, proving that some of the most interesting and creative works can be born from the most abundant of materials: garbage.

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Handcrafted from recycled yacht sails, Ella Vickers' collection saves 20,000 yards of sailcloth from the landfill each year. Photo:

Boston’s Down:2:Earth 2009 expo, which took place April 3-5, featured products and art made from almost everything imaginable.

  • Ella Vickers’ collection of bags and accessories made from recycled sailcloth was a hit.
  • Tara Lynn, who crafted the eco-friendly gown for Miss Vermont 2008, displayed her clothing created from vintage pieces and repurposed materials collected over years of yard sale shopping.
  • John Bassett’s recycled glass and found objects sculptures were displayed, sold as wall hangings and stained glass windows.

Trash People

One of the most famous trash art installations comes from German artist H.A. Schuldt and his “Trash People.” In 1996, Schuldt installed one thousand life sized “Trash People” in the Amphitheatre of Xanten, and the idea was born to send them traveling around the world.

The Trash People in the foreground of the Matterhorn Photo:

The Trash People in the foreground of the Matterhorn Photo:

Since 1996, the “Trash People,” made of aluminum cans, electronic waste and other discarded objects, have traveled to some of the world’s best-known landmarks in a series called “Archaeology of the Present.” Displayed at the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids at Giza, the Red Square in Moscow and even Antarctica in 2008, H.A. Schuldt aims to raise awareness of the volume of garbage left by humans over the course of a lifetime.

While we can’t all be H.A. Schuldt, we probably all have done some creative things with trash. Leave a comment and let us know how you are recycling trash to art.

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  1. Love the article Lori,

    Just read your recent one on paperboard recycling as well – and felt compelled to say HI!
    I just launched a start up to help raise funds and awareness about the challenges of carton recyclability as well.

    There’s a movie on the site that really tells the whole story – hope you will check it out!

    Great stuff – I am tweeting your work to the masses,

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