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UPDATED: Plastic bags, no, reusable bags, yes — and they are designer bags!

By Dave Jones on January 19, 2011 in University News

A tornado has touched down in the Design Museum.

It is a tornado made from more than 1,000 plastic bags, the number that an average California couple uses in a year — with the tornado symbolizing how bags like these “are causing serious environmental problems” all over the world, said Ann Savageau, associate professor of design.

The tornado is part of her installation titled BAG (Bags Across the Globe): Designing to Reduce Waste — showcasing reusable bags made from textile waste.

The exhibition opened Jan. 18 and is scheduled to run through March 11. A lecture by Savageau and an opening reception are scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 23. See details below.

Savageau announced that Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who tried but failed last year to pass legislation that would ban single-use plastic and paper bags, will be on hand for the opening. The Santa Monica Democrat's bag-ban legislation secured the Assembly’s approval last June, only to be voted down by the Senate in August.

The BAG installation includes photos that show how plastic bags are killing animals, including turtles, camels, cows, goat, sheep, gazelles and oryx. “The most tangible display of how plastic bags are deadly to animals is a 30-kilo ‘rock’ of calcified plastic bags taken from the stomach of a dead camel in Dubai,” Savageau said.

She has been working on the BAG project since 2008, and, as the BAG name suggests, the project is worldwide — having reached 63 countries.

Read Savageau's entry on the newly launched blog on UC Davis Sustainable 2nd Century website.

BAG is a global collaborative piece, or what contemporary artist-activists call an intervention, in which the artist-designer carries out an action in the public sphere.

A news release from the Design Museum states: “The goal of BAG is to collaborate with friends and strangers in countries across the globe, in order to bring attention to the environmental damage caused by single-use plastic shopping bags and textile waste, and to promote the use of reusable cloth bags.”

Savageau collects photos of BAG participants — and their bags — from around the world, and the photos will be displayed at the Design Museum, as a PowerPoint presentation that will run continuously.

She said the installation features a wall of bags that people used before the advent of plastic bags, and examples of the bags that she would like to see people using today.

Some of the examples come from abroad, some are the work of design students. The UC Davis designs include bags made from UC Davis waste: fabric swatches and other leftovers from campus design projects, old vinyl banners, etc.

“Finally, there is a world map showing all the countries that participated,” Savageau said. “Next to the world map is a pledge wall where visitors can hang a written pledge to use reusable bags. Everyone who pledges will be eligible to win one of our handmade bags.”

The Runway Designers Club has adopted the bag project, and club members are making and selling bags to pay for their runway show. The bags will be for sale at the reception.

The Design Museum is in 145 Walker Hall. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

Savageau’s lecture is scheduled from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23, in the Technocultural Studies Building (formerly called the Art Annex), behind the Art Building; with the installation’s opening reception to follow from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the museum. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.




Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,