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Using detritus from your life—whether physical (actual trash) or not (recycled messages, old work)—create a Great Garbage Patch of the Soul.
Garbage Patch of Samara's Soul
Garbage Patch
of the Soul
Garbage Patch of Shannon's Soul
Garbage Patch of Molly's Soul
Garbage Patch
of the Soul

My Great Garbage Patch of the Soul touches on the shame of living in a way that creates waste. It examines all of the little things that add up to a multitude and what it means to know about the problem but feeling powerless to stop it. I was inspired by Anoushka Grose’s writing on ecological grief as well as the “solastalgia” of living in an extinction period.

I considered my own individual magical thinking and the exercises I either knowingly or unknowingly perform to make myself feel like I am in control (recycling, rejecting plastic bags, drinking from reusable bottles) even though in a broader context this has little if any effect on the current global catastrophe. My Garbage Patch considers the individual desire to repair the world and the hopelessness of knowing one cannot do it alone.


I cannot acquire M&Ms sustainably, I think as I look upon several empty brown packets.
There is no section in the health-food store to bring your own jar and fill it with M&Ms. They are not roasted almonds or dried apricots. There are no elderly lesbians with long gray hair and hemp jewelry at food co-ops handing out samples of M&Ms. I could go to the M&M store and select my favorite M&M color (brown) and get a whole bag of them from the tap, but that would entail going to midtown. Plus, they make you use their plastic bags.


I cannot stand up indignantly and demand good news. I’d like to speak to someone about it, as I am very disappointed and feel I am owed some good news. Or at the very least a coupon.


I cannot conceive of the fact that space does not have a floor and a ceiling.


I have so many plastic bags.


I feel like everything could be solved if we compressed all trash into bricks. I don’t know where the bricks would go, but it would be more organized. Perhaps we could make a great tower, a monument to human shortsightedness. One day I could take my twins, Birkenstock and Ugg, to see the massive structure. I imagine they will look up in awe and ask questions. How did we come to make this? Why is it here? Can we get some M&Ms (my twins are also very hungry)? I will tell them how I devised the plan to compress all the detritus into bricks. They will agree this was a good idea and that it all looks much more organized.


I drink out of empty prescription bottles. I have one glass, purely for guests.


An orange has its own packaging. It did not ask for a sticker either.


Receipts for things I no longer have snake along the floor. Toothpaste. Zoloft. Black Shoelaces. Travel backgammon. Either they were used of lost, but the result is the same: I no longer have them. I only have the refuse.


A shirt that is much too itchy hangs in my closet. It was a gift from someone who is dead. I cannot part with it even though I will never wear it. This is one of the many precious things I have that are useless that I must keep. I fantasize about donating it and then having an empty hanger. But then I think about the slight, slight chance one day I will want to wear it. Or one day someone will ask about what happened to the deceased person, and I can pull out this shirt and say “she gave this to me.” Proof that I had some connection with her, even though I didn’t know her well.


My water has little whales in it. They were once great mammoths of the seas, migrating to the warm ocean currents and shepherding their calves with them along the way, whispering to them. Now, I squint at the water looking for their large, grey bodies hoping for a glimpse.


Can tissues be composted? Are handkerchiefs really that disgusting? Is it worth being a little disgusting to save the world?


I save pine needles hoping one day I can weave a tight enough basket that it will hold water.
Garbage Patch of Lisa's Soul