The lei is a pivotal element of the Hawaiian culture, as is the state’s relation to the ocean. For this lei, we captured the essence and beauty of a traditional a Hawaiian lei, made of fresh flowers and greens, while also addressing the issue of a polluted ocean. Plastic bags of all types, from shopping bags, to cereal bags, to individual wrappers are a dangerous threat to all ocean life. This type of plastic is often overlooked for reuse and recycling and is thrown away without a second thought.
We collected our materials from our own homes, items that would have normally been thrown out during one typical week. The clear plastics were cut and folded into triangles and the colored plastics were cut into small pieces and used to fill the clear triangles and give them color. The pieces were folded into triangles to symbolize the three legs of sustainability: reduce, reuse, recycle. The colors of the lei relate to the flora found in traditional Hawaiian lei’s and the techniques used reflect those used in customary lei making. Two strands of plastic triangles were used for this lei: one of all clear triangles, and one of clear triangles filled with color. Each strand was constructed using the Kui technique, stringing the pieces together. Then an interpretation of the Hilo technique was used to twist the two strands together. This lei combines traditional Hawaiian techniques and colors and brings attention to the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean.