Graffiti fascinates me. Some of it is so interesting, provocative, and at times beautiful. It’s also so fleeting. In Revolution in a Bottle: How TerraCycle Is Redefining Green Business, Tom Szaky includes an interesting discussion of graffiti. TerraCycle is located in Trenton, New Jersey, a city with high crime rates, gang problems, and a number of other challenges. To make peace with local residents, TerraCycle invites graffiti artists to paint their walls. Some of the early pieces are included here. It’s evolved into an annual graffiti jam, which you can look up on youtube.
TerraCycle’s mission is to take material that would otherwise go into landfills and create useful (and profitable) consumer products. Szaky often refers to trash as the things people will pay to get rid of. In his book, he compares graffiti to the raw materials in TerraCycle’s products. Cities and individuals are willing to pay to get rid of graffiti. Beyond the urban art that decorates their facility, TerraCycle sells Urban Art Flower Pots that are constructed from plastic waste and decorated by local graffiti artists.
As much as I love some of the graffiti I see, I realize it is disrespectful of property owned by cities or private businesses or individuals. I love that TerraCycle provides a legitimate outlet for the craft.