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September 2001
Trash Worship

By Rolando, a.k.a Wasteone



To a true trash worshipper, trash is not approached in the conventional sense as garbage. It is seen as a resource that still has a useful life and needs to be saved from execution at the dump. Trash is still mostly free for the taking, and so it should continue to stay in this state of freedom after its reincarnation. This mindset is our philosophical cornerstone.

Trash Worship is an informal network of people who periodically come together for events, like parties and festivals. The network has a core presence of performing artists, and also counts on environmental activists, nomads, trash freaks, visual artists and others from the creative progressive world.

We believe in “no permanent possession,” i.e. we pass the resources and the transformed trash on to others who need it and are willing to accept it. Exchanging and passing it on helps to keep the network fluid, proliferates reverence for renewable resources, and reduces dependency on the “buy new and consume” culture. To own nothing—at least, not permanently—goes along with progressive concepts of sustainability.

For instance, let’s look at shoes. In summer, large numbers of winter shoes and boots are thrown out. These shoes can be rescued and transformed into a summer design by cutting off excess materials (these scraps can be used for other purposes as needed). If the shoe fits, it’s yours; if not, pass it on. If it breaks, use the material for other transformations and just get another pair from the trash. In winter the process is reversed: Add protective materials from scrap and transform the sandal into a boot again.

The environment in which we live—that is, the high urban density of New York City—provides the sources of trash that we use, including dumpsters, street cans, residential garbage and also commercial institutional trash from markets, stores, schools, hospitals and industrial neighborhoods. There is also the ever-present surprise of spotting those special “found objects” in miscellaneous places. We are also evolving a trash advisory network, by building contacts with stores, contractors, theaters and so on.

We make all sorts of accessories and costumes, though we are careful not to use the term “trash fashion” or “fashionable.” Most wearable creations are simple and temporary at that—like punching a hole in a trash bag and wearing it for cover in a rain storm and disposing of it when the rain stops. We also make dolls, toys, puppets, and general decorative artifacts. Other reincarnations have practical use, such as candleholders, camping stoves, walking sticks (made from umbrellas), spoons (from plastic water bottles), and lunch boxes (from videotape containers).

In theory, we don’t set limitations to the variety and size of trash that could be transformed. In practice however, we have so far been concentrating on the lighter household trash and found objects as they fit the requirements for sideshows at festivals and underground warehouse parties.

To sum up what we are about: We strive to operate much like subsistence economies in the midst of scarcity familiar in the Southern Hemisphere. The twist is that we are doing it in the heart of consumer abundance society.

To learn more about Trash Worship, contact Rolando at or (212) 228-7722.


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