Skip to main content
Art & Culture

The humble plastic bag: an evolution of culture and waste

By July 17, 2020August 27th, 2020No Comments
© Landesmuseum Württemberg Stuttgart

A German exhibition documents the history of plastic bags, showcasing their evolution from a culture of convenience and design, opposed to the environmental nuisance they have become today.

The German Museum for Everyday Culture has dedicated a special exhibition to the history and design of plastic bags. ‘Adieu Plastiktüte!’ (Goodbye, Plastic Bag!) featuring a collection of more than 50,000 plastic bags from the last 50 years, looks back at the history and evolution of this innovation of convenience. Showcasing various designs, the exhibition illustrates how they were considered attractive advertising spaces, communicating the individuality of both brands and consumers. Though out of style these days, plastic bags were once a rocking cultural trend.

Bag that! And say your goodbyes

Where once the colourful, lightweight, cheap and easy to mass-produce plastic bags were considered an element of design evolution and a convenient replacement of traditional baskets -they have now been downgraded as an environmental nuisance. With a rise in plastic bag bans and levies and an influx of alternative packaging and bag materials, are plastic bags slowly becoming a thing of the past? Will plastic bags soon become historical artifacts, documenting an end of an era? 

“The exhibition is dedicated to the controversial everyday thing in its positive and negative facets. You can see great designs, curious compositions and amusing slogans. But the facts about environmental problems are also highlighted.”

A new selection of plastic bags is shown each month until the closing date of the exhibition. ‘Goodbye, Plastic Bag!’ is available for public viewing in Waldenbuch, southern Germany which has been extended to November 8th, 2020.