Our Story

Point No Point, WA – It wasn’t just sand clinging to the children’s toes as they climbed along enormous Puget Sound-worn logs on a Northwest beach at the tip of Kitsap Peninsula. Tiny balls of styrofoam, colorful bits of microplastic, and 2 mm-wide plastic discs, called “nurdles”, industrial feedstock for all plastics, made up 1/5 of the beach-scape that day. It was early February, 2010, and as we, the two mothers of the children, looked closer, it became obvious that the entire beach was littered with plastics, both large and small. Our 2 families, homeschooling our kids, ages 4-7, on Bainbridge Island, began collecting the plastics in our beach bags and a 2 year-long study of marine debris was launched.

We returned to Point No Point throughout that winter and continued to collect the plastic debris, 15 minutes at a time, across approximately 100 meters of beach. The children then inventoried and categorized the plastics by kind and color, and then got to work turning them into pieces of art. What became immediately clear was that the source of the plastics is our homes, our towns, and our construction sites.

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Recent attention on the problem of plastic in the oceans has focused on the North Pacific Central Gyre, the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” of plastics believed to be twice the size of Texas. Yet, the problem of human-generated plastics in the ocean is alarmingly easy to document even closer to home. Plastics are washing up on our beaches with every high tide and this disturbing trend of plastic flotsam washing back up on land was the focus of Plastic is Forever, the project we designed as an educational display of mosaics, assemblages, and sculptures we created to illustrate the very real threat and impact marine debris is having on our waters near home.

We’ve set about finding a way to address the problem at its root, not just for our local community, but for our shared global community. How could we stop the flow of trash from our hands to our landfills and incinerators, and along the way unintentionally to the oceans?

Trash Backwards is our answer. We publish original content aimed at helping people rethink their old stuff, finding new ways to refuse, reduce, and reuse what’s already in existence so that less virgin material needs to be consumed for production of new stuff. We have also developed a database of rethink, reduce, reuse, and recycle solutions from around the world, and we’re developing a web tool and mobile app to share this resource widely.

If you have information that you’d like to add to our database and web tool, please let us know. We are always adding new solutions for our collective stuff, and we’d love to share your reuse tutorials, links to non-profits that collect and reuse materials, upcycled products, or other resources. Help us turn our communal trash backwards into something useful.

10 Comments on “Our Story”

  1. Leticia H
    May 15, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Hi ladies I didn’t know that my “neighbors” (yes, I live on BI too!) were producing such a great blogs with some wonderful ideas and stories, thank you! Your boards on Pinterest (how I found you) are filled with great links. Do you plan any community events were I could help?

    • Leticia H
      May 15, 2012 at 10:03 am #

      “where” I could help? (not were)

    • Liesl Clark & Rebecca Rockefeller
      May 15, 2012 at 10:07 am #

      Hi Leticia –
      We’re so happy you found us! We’re currently running free waste audits in our island schools (public and private), working with the Rotary Auction in their new Dumpster Diversion department (we’ll be volunteering there during their collection week before the big day), and getting ready for the beta test of our mobile app…We’d love your help with any of those in-person events, and we’re always interested in guest blog posts. Let us know if any of that sounds compelling to you!
      Best, Rebecca

  2. August 2, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Thanks for checking out my blog. I
    think what you’re doing is great.

    • August 8, 2012 at 9:47 am #

      Thank you! Your DIY home repair and care tutorials are a great resource, very welcoming and easy to follow.

  3. January 4, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Hi there,

    Just wanted to let you know I have nominated you for the The Versatile Blogger Award. I hope this is welcome news to you. If you prefer not to accept the award, I certainly understand, but I hope you will visit the other nominees, and they will visit you, just the same. To see more about the award and accepting this nomination, please visit my post at http://wp.me/p1w5ra-H8. All the best!

  4. May 8, 2013 at 3:10 am #

    Hi Liesl & Rebecca, I just stumbled upon your blog and I am absolutely amazed! I tried to go plastic-free for 40 days during Lent and I wish I had found trash backwards earlier, it would have made my challenge a lot easier. I’m blogging about reducing trash as well, but I was stunned by the sheer number of ideas I could find here. You are a great inspiration for me. By the way, I would like to write a post about you on my blog ingloriousplastics and link your blog. Hope that’s ok! Best wishes from Germany, Eva

    • May 12, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      Hi Eva:
      We do have a lot in common! I love your blog and we’d love to reblog some of your posts, if you’re ever interested in that. Meanwhile, please spread the word about us if you think your audience would be interested. Thanks so much for reading our articles and I’m looking forward to reading more of yours!
      Kindest regards,
      Liesl at Trash Backwards

  5. February 20, 2014 at 5:20 am #

    What a fantastic blog –
    so pleased I found you and thanks for some fab ideas!
    We all need to do our bit to reduce waste and appreciate our world –
    inspiring indeed,
    thank you.

    Emma 🙂

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