See Plastics Unwrapped at the Burke Museum

by Lauren Robinson, Seattle Goodwill
January 10, 2013

Goodwill is excited to partner with the Burke Museum for their new exhibit, “Plastics Unwrapped,” on display through May 27.  This thought-provoking exhibit explores how plastics have changed the world, through topics ranging from life before plastics to the effects of plastic on our health and the environment.

Can you imagine a time when there were no waterproof raincoats?  No plastic buckets?  Humans existed without plastics for centuries.  Now, we rely on them to meet our basic needs.  Plastics help keep us safe and healthy, and they make our daily lives convenient in so many ways.  It’s nearly impossible to imagine a world without them.

Yet, before the 1950s, we hardly used plastics.  How did they go from being rare to being everywhere?  Plastics Unwrapped explores how material culture was changed—rapidly and perhaps permanently—by plastics. Learn what life was like before plastics, how they are made, why they’re so convenient and beneficial to use, and what happens after we throw them away.

Plastics were marketed as the “material of the future,” and today that prediction has come true.  They will stay in landfills and oceans for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.  In order to counter the impact of plastic waste, we need to rethink our relationship with plastics.  Discover how, at Plastics Unwrapped.

Courtesy of the Burke Museum


1. A prosthetic leg fabricated in the 1940s compared to one from today. Photo courtesy of the Burke Museum
2. Girl sits among cables and electronic waste. Guiyu, China, 2005. Photo courtesy of Natalie Behring/Greenpeace
3. Sea birds off the coast of Mauritania. 2012. Image courtesy of Pierre Gleizes/Greenpeace
4. Plastic polymer granules. Photo courtesy of the Burke Museum


Lauren Robinson is the Digital Communications Coordinator at Seattle Goodwill.

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