"Everything which would ordinarily go into the waste paper basket after use"

Labels

The recycled label

Recycle label

What does this mean? At first glance, you might think it is a self-referential label, a selfie label, a label which exists for the sole purpose of telling us what it is.

That’s not as absurd as it sounds (well, maybe it is…). I once saw a poster which simply had the word GREEN printed on it – yes, in green lettering – being used to promote a company’s environmental credentials, such as they were. It’s like a form of synesthesia in which both the sensory and semantic perception of the word become identical.

This label, as it stands, strays into similar territory with a circular graphic that functions simply to evoke what it is i.e. a label made from recycled material. It exists merely in order to advertise the means of its own existence, as if the sole purpose of my life was to wander around saying ‘I am 37.2 trillion cells’.

Of course, this changes if the label is attached to a different referent, in this case an object which was, in part, made from recycled material. Then it makes perfect sense.

It also underscores the meaningless of many environmental labels and how easy it is for somebody to put together a couple of green arrows for marketing purposes. It’s something that drives environmentalists crazy – so-called green-washing – whereby any greeny blobby graphic can be used to promote a feel-good environmental message without any real basis in fact.

shredded paper

The Easter stickers

Easter stickers

Strictly speaking, it’s not real paper but something called Easy Dot, a PVC film that goes through an inkjet printer.

Typically Easy Dot is used for advertising graphics to stick on walls and floors but in this sample, because it’s Easter, it has been used to print some little stickers of bunnies and chicks.

Happy Easter.

shredded paper

The shoe label

Shoe label

There was once a white shoe, a soft, thin-soled slip-on that lived in a big factory in a far away land. It wasn’t a particularly nice factory but the white shoe didn’t mind; it was the only place the white shoe had lived and, as a result, it had little idea that beyond the high windows of the factory there existed a vast world, many times bigger than the factory, filled with all sorts of shoes.

The white shoe knew only the other shoes that lived in the factory and, by and large, they were all very similar. Some of them were a different colour or had different soles, and some had holes too for the addition of laces. There was even a big black boot. The other shoes used to tease the black boot for not being a slip-on but, by and large, the shoes all got on together very well indeed. The white shoe became good friends with the black boot as well as three other bluey slip-ons and a pale plimsoll. Together they would hang out and talk about the things they wanted to do when they acquired feet, such as play keepie uppie or do a moonwalk. None of them really knew what these things were but they’d heard other shoes talking about them and they sounded like fun.

Eventually the day came (actually it was the same day – shoes have a poor understanding of time) when the shoes were paired up for life. Most of the shoes were left shoes (one of the bluey slip-ons was a right shoe but, at the time, the other shoes barely noticed the difference) so they were a little apprehensive about what their pairs might be like. Perhaps they would be leather. Maybe they had zips. As it turned out, however, the shoes had nothing to worry about: their pairs were exactly like them except a mirror image, and that seemed quite appropriate. They all fitted together very well.

Now that they had been paired up, the shoes knew that it would soon be time to leave the factory for good. Before they were dispatched however, they decided to have a group photo taken of them all together so that wherever they went in the outside world, they would always carry a memory of the happy times they had shared in the factory. The photo was a little fuzzy and it wasn’t printed very well but the shoes didn’t care. They pinned copies of the photo to themselves and said a final farewell as, with nervous excitement, they climbed into their boxes ready to be shipped out.

Who knows where those slip-ons, the plimsoll and the boot ended up but if you ever come across a shoe in a shop with a photo of other shoes attached to it, at least now you’ll know why it’s there.

shredded paper