Green Prophet Upcycles Jordan’s Politicians Into Hip Handbags

recycled plastic sign handbag jordanLaurie recycles a Jordanian political poster into a handbag. Here’s how she does it.

Voting is underway for Jordan’s Parliament. I’m not running, but I have this one in the bag!

Hundreds of posters are hanging along Amman roadways; a somber assemblage of Middle Eastern manhood, mostly mustachioed. No wonder there’s tension in the lead-up to election: everywhere I look there are faces scowling down.

The signs are made from fiberglass-reinforced plastic stretched across a simple wood frame, the plastic fabric roughly stapled in place.

Amman’s recent spate of hard rain, wind and snow knocked many signs off their telephone pole mounts. Aerodynamic, as if crafted by Pakistani kite-makers, they flew across roads, into cars and front yards. One landed near me.

I took it home (torn fabric, broken frame), salvaged some of the plastic and tossed the wood into the fireplace.

Then I took my politician into the shower.

Scrubbed off diesel exhaust, mud and sand, and after a brisk towel-dry, was pleased to see how nicely he cleaned up.political poster jordan

Next I downloaded a simple free pattern from the internet and created a handbag. The bag had the simplest design: a mix of odd facial features and Arabic text added visual style.

(I’m a sucker for written Arabic, to my eyes it’s a graphical equal to how spoken French sounds. Graceful and swooping and deliciously foreign, it had me at the first alif.)

I wondered what would happen to all those posters after elections?

Straight to landfills? More roadside trash? Why not organize to collect the posters après election and salvage material to make reusable shopping bags? Interesting totes? Smaller purses? Cosmetic bags, baby bibs or cook aprons? Raincoats for dogs? Place mats? Mouse pads? You get the idea.

The simplest of skills are needed to cut and sew this pliant material. The end products might appeal to modern shoppers (think “up-cycling” and a hip Jordan connection).

While we’re at it, pull the staples out the wood and give it to the needy for fuel. (With Jordan’s rising fuel prices, they’ll probably be more wood-takers than voters.)

jordan parliamentary elections signs

Surely there are organizations with the influence and ability to arrange collection of the old signs. Those same entities might also have established links to local craftspeople, villages where the transformation of trash to marketable treasure could occur. (Jordan River Foundation and The Royal Society of Nature Conservation come to mind).

Liaise with Greater Amman Municipality to gather signs as part of regular waste collection. Engage with the companies who put up the posters in the first place to truck them to a central storage site or to the workshops.

Looking around, I see that most Amman signage is made from this printed plastic. After elections, we could work with the printing and advertising companies to continue supply of discarded and out-of-date signage. The crafters would have an unending supply of free material. And if the market’s too micro for such a wacky line of goods: maybe stitch up reusable shopping bags and sell them to supermarkets to pass along to customers. How marvelous if one of these candidates would back banning of disposable plastic bags.

Can’t we get organized to do something more than just observe and complain? Come on Jordan, let’s Occupy Plastic Outdoor Signage!

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2 thoughts on “Green Prophet Upcycles Jordan’s Politicians Into Hip Handbags”

  1. Laurie Balbo says:

    Sounds like a perfect fit, Jean. We’re chasing leads as to how we can collect the discarded posters…I sent you a FB message: let’s take this discussion offline and see what we can make happen.

  2. Laurie – please collect and save as many of these as you can. The women of Safi Crafts, in the Ghor es Safi, can make them into bags. I’ll pick them up from you in March or you can deliver them in person. Please contact me. And see our project on Facebook at ‘Safi Crafts’. Great idea! It is full of potential problems as well as fun. We love a challenge.
    Jean Bradbury (Seattle)

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