Monday, August 23, 2010

YggPLASTsil - The Tree of Death

YggPLASTsil by Hayley Spencer, 2010.
Yggdrasil, an enormous ash tree upholding nine worlds in its branches, was central to ancient Norse mythology and cosmology. It sustained all life and the heavens, its roots nourished in pristine springs and wells.

Over 100 million metric tonnes of plastic are produced each year, 10% of which ends up in our oceans. It is estimated by the UN that there are currently 120 000 pieces of plastic floating in the each square kilometre of the ocean.

Despite marketing propaganda to the contrary, everyday plastic is extremely durable and persists in our environment indefinitely, both on land and in the sea.

YggPLASTsil was created entirely out of discarded plastic. The external crocheted surface is made from plastic shopping bags cut into strips to make "plarn" or plastic yarn. The interior is stuffed with everyday plastic waste generated by myself in under 2 months. It includes plastic bags and wrappers from dried fruit, pasta, rice and cereals, bread tags, shrink wrap, hard plastic clamshell packaging, screw-caps and candy wrappers that are not currently recycled in Vancouver's waste management programme.

Remember this tree next time you reach for your wallet: what legacy are you leaving your children? Reusable non-plastic grocery bags only help so much. What will it take to convince you to make small sacrifices on pretty and convenient packaging for the sake of our home planet?

The 'bark' and 'leaves' of the tree were made from approximately 60 plastic shopping bags of the estimated 500 billion to one trillion produced globally per year.

YggPLASTsil was created by Hayley in 2010 for "The Art of Science" gala evening for the Dept of Pathology, UBC. It stands approximately 57cm (22.5") tall. Original design, with exception of the 2D skulls - adapted from a terrific pattern by Darlene R. Harris (Day of the Dead Crochet Skull on

Interested in learning more about plastics in the environment and plastics recycling in Canada? The truth is shocking! Check out CBC's DocZone documentary "Forever Plastic".

And if you're on the anti-plastic bandwagon like I am, please read Taine's incredible blog "Plastic Manners" in which she chronicles her year without plastic. It's absolutely fantastic - I am so grateful to Sarah J. for alerting me to the existence of Taine's blog!


  1. I miss seeing this tree everyday! - Lynda Roxburgh

  2. Thanks, Lynda! :) I miss seeing you! :)