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  • Cyrina Thomas

What if Plastic Recycling was more accessible?

Updated: Jun 4

Precious Plastic Cincy grew out of learning that 9% of plastic was recycled in the US. I began my research process into actions I could do from 2017-2020.

The Precious Plastic Ecosystem

The best viable solution I found to addressing this challenge was through an international movement of plastic recycling I joined called Precious Plastic. It is an open source global movement of plastic recyclers. I founded the Cincinnati group of Precious Plastic and ran the organization for around 3 years.

The good.

Typically, in my research and solution design process, the process is slowed down by lack of infrastructure, but by working with the existing framework of the Precious Plastic ecosystem. There were plenty of examples and models within the ecosystem so I started work on what it could look like in Cincinnati. I found my humble 200 square foot leased space in a warehouse building.

Over the years, I created lasting relationships with the University of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Museum Center, Rheaply and many other community partners. These partners were essential for materials, programs and experiments.

See more about what we worked on on this page:

Beauty in The Struggle?

Building a business is hard and I never wanted this project to be one. I think legally I thought I had to because of the LLC discourse. I took it down both the non-profit and LLC path and this work is meant to be a functioning business.

As I learned more, I realized my interest lies in the process and mobilizing people toward a common goal rather than endless growth (I'm doing this now at Valley Folk Studios). Over 3 years we built some really awesome, inspiring work that made people really question materials and the world around us and that is the success - critical thinking and material literacy. I shut down operations to focus on areas that felt more in line with how I work and broadened me up to work outside of just plastic and I am excited about what is next!

Where does this project live now?

With all projects, the hope is they can self sustain themselves, but this project lives on as a time capsule that proves people give a shit, but maybe not as much as saving money :( and that is an important practical consideration as people explore alternative plastic recycling methods further.

This project laid the groundwork for The Remake Project which is a coalition mobilizing people towards supporting sustainable work. Check that out here:

Thank you for reading - Cyrina

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