Origomu Designer Upcycles 6-Pack Rings Into Wearable Art

When I was a kid, six-pack rings were a big environmental issue. People were just starting to realize that plastic waste often ended up in the ocean, and seagulls, turtles, and other marine life were dying as a result. Don’t believe me, check out this gruesome story.

Back then, eco-advocates told us to cut up the rings before throwing them away, so animals couldn’t get their heads and bodies stuck. This simple act got designer and activist Tatiana Pagés thinking about what a shame it was that we were still throwing away this toxic plastic. She started a movement called Origomu (Japanese for “folding rubber”), as a way to inspires environmental action through design. To date, she has helped collect nearly 1 million six-pack plastic rings and repurposed to create wearable art.

origamu plastic necklaces

Image via Origamu

On her website, Pagés explains the process for turning discarded six-pack rings into fashion accessories worthy of the most sophisticated runways. The plastic is cut and folded in certain ways to produce different types of designs, just like origami does with paper. The plastic “beads” are then clamped and threaded to produce a dramatic necklace, or even tote bags.

More than just another artist using reclaimed materials, Pagés wants Origomu to be a global community dedicated to cleaning up plastic pollution. “Origomu is a demonstration of the extraordinary potential we all have to transform by hand the ugliness of industrial waste into the exquisite beauty of a unique piece,” writes the designer. “From art exhibits to a design contest Origomu has inspired art and design communities worldwide.”

And she needs your help to keep growing! Follow these instructions for sending any six-pack rings you can find to Origomu. All donated plastic is used to conduct art workshops where Pagés teaches others how to tap into their own creativity, turning pollution into art.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog