What gets called waste and where we put it impacts land use, planetary health, and human relations in multiple ways. Visible landfills and invisible toxic sites “take up space” and generate pollutants that move across containment barriers, damaging the potential of cultivatable land and the health of people and ecosystems. People who are seen as “waste” are treated with disrespect, neglect, prejudicial judgments, and criminalization. “Waste” (like “weeds”) is an ambiguous and value-laden term with real material implications. The category needs to be examined, as we shift from a one-way linear model of disposal to circular systems of reuse, reciprocity, recognition, and regeneration.
We plan to trace local waste streams in Santa Cruz, practice dyeing with weeds, and explore ways to re-think the meaning of waste and its impacts on land, health, human relations, and people’s lived experiences.