Story and Photos By CHAZ PLAGER
Everyone who is concerned about the environment has learned the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The first and last, anyone can do. But the second, Reuse, is a little more difficult. Just how is one supposed to use an empty Gatorade bottle or a used battery for anything important?
There are places which help combine the idea of reusable materials with fun activities, such as Cardboard City, which has a popup location at the Santa Monica Place Mall, off Third Street.
Cardboard City is actually found in several locations, including Culver City and Eagle Rock. One employee said its mission is “to reduce waste and spread the joy of cardboard sculpting.”
As the name implies, CC encourages visitors to use cardboard (and other recycled materials) to create art. From simple things like a bow, to massively complex creations like the giant 8-foot Terminator overlooking the workshop, there are no limits.
Is there a reason for Cardboard City to exist?
Do people really not recycle enough to justify using only recycled materials?
Statistics say yes. According to Rubicon, 80 percent of waste that goes to landfill could be recycled. That’s 116.88 million tons of solid waste, according to the EPA.
But that raises another question: How much can Cardboard City really help? To be cynical: not much. But that’s not the fault of Cardboard City. Rather, they’re doing more to help this problem than the average American, whose yearly waste usually has 30% of it that could have been recycled.
If one looks at people like Cardboard City doing their best to inspire people, one’s first reaction should not be a dismissive “They can’t really do anything.”
Maybe this is a way to encourage people to take a long hard look at personal recycling habits. California’s government has financial incentives to recycle, and you can often turn in used cans for a profit. You are losing actual money by not taking give seconds to put that can in the correct bin. This should be a no-brainer, right?
So, if you want to find a fun way make a difference, head to Cardboard City and be inspired. The site is open from noon to 6 p.m. every day except Tuesdays.
Some examples in the studio, such as working mechanical sculptures to the one-fourth scale Iron Man suit, are sure to inspire you to work on your project.
The CC staff is helpful and can assist you with anything you need. And if you find the art cool, but don’t have the knack to put it together, you can always purchase sculptures from their merchandise section.
CC’s T-shirts and bags are also made from 100% recycled material. If saving the environment and making art are two interests of yours, Cardboard City is the place to visit. Come by soon though– the popup closes August 14 – but they might stay open longer if they get enough visitors.
Please visit L and A crafts. They make and sell craft from cardboard and wood at