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Sarah Rich, 24 Sep 06

betterwall.jpg It's standard practice, when a museum launches a new exhibition, for lampposts and buildings to be heavily adorned with vinyl signage heralding the show. Vinyl is versatile, weatherproof, well-suited for color printing, and of course, incredibly unfriendly to the earth. To make matters worse, these signs are as temporary as the exhibits they publicize, and are produced in a quanitity just small enough to fall below the threshhold of interest for municipal recycling services.

Enter BetterWall, a company founded to simultaneously address the problem of waste in cultural centers, and give people a way to enjoy great art (and the memory of a great art show) at home. BetterWall restores and resells vinyl banners from museums, returning a percentage of the proceeds to the museum from which they came.

They have also created a "Recycle & Reuse Program" to help alleviate the logistical burden on museums of finding a way to dispose of damaged signs responsibly. While individual museums don't generate enough banner waste to warrant the attention and effort of local recyclers, BetterWall compiles torn and unusable banners from a large network of museums, aggregating enough tonnage to have them recycled.

This speaks volumes to the idea of establishing a mutually beneficial arrangement between institutions and individuals -- the museum gets to have their exhibitions live on while contributing less to the landfill, and recipients get a beautiful piece of art that costs much less than an original work, with the added appeal of being a one-of-a-kind relic of particular location and cultural moment.

Thanks, Nora.

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I once received a very stylish messenger bag as a gift, made out of a recycled vinyl poster. I'm not sure how it was made, but it's very unique, one of a kind, and hip. Another option for reuse and recycling :)

Posted by: JLM on 25 Sep 06



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