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That also spurs her to research possible solutions to issues she sees in her daily life.
Recently, she was thinking about how garbage container lids blow off on windy days, sending the contents all over the place. “I said, ‘What if there was a clasp on the container so it doesn’t just blow open?’ ” she said.
When she sees trash lying around in a parking lot, “It makes me think, why doesn’t the facility have more trash and recycling receptacles? Maybe more people would be inclined to throw things away or recycle if they did,” she said, adding that she has written to businesses advocating that idea.
Making a difference
Filipi’s passion is starting to rub off on others. Some friends have told her they think more about how many napkins they’re using, or that they’ve started recycling programs at home or work.
The initial hands-on part of the project is a good conversation starter, too. “My neighbors have commented that they see me walking the dog with a bunch of trash in my arms,” Filipi said.
Jennifer O’Hara, a friend who lives in Minneapolis, says that Filipi’s project has prompted her to pick up trash while she’s out running. “I feel like I’m getting healthy and, at the same time, doing something for the environment. It’s cool to be a part of that,” she said.
Meanwhile, Filipi is connecting with other artists with similar sensibilities.
St. Paul resident Heather Cole, who does her art under the name of Design HMC, met Filipi at an art show in the fall. Right away they bonded “over the whole idea of recycling stuff,” she said.
Cole fashions light fixtures out of used milk jugs that she cuts up or shreds. “There’s always one little scrap that makes me think of the next piece. I get inspired by it,” she said.
It’s a transformation on more than one level. “You’re taking it out of the waste stream and making something useful that was discarded, and making it aesthetically pleasing,” she said.
The two talked about possibly collaborating on a project, maybe even making something out of the recycled pieces she’s held onto at the end. Filipi “has a beautiful eye. It’s fun trading ideas with her.”
For Filipi, it’s satisfying to know that the message is getting out.
She has lots of ideas about developing an educational book about recycling for children, a separate photo essay about the R-365 experience and an exhibit that she said will “also allow others to see trash in a whole new light — as art.”
To learn more about Sarah Filipi’s project, go to www.sarahgracephotography.wordpress.com
Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer.