Trash. Cotton ball. Contact cases. Coffee cup. These are the things we threw out before sitting down to write this letter. After all, when it comes down to it, what isn’t trash? It is everywhere.
But what is “trash” really?
something worth little or nothing; domestic refuse; that which is discarded.
A general equivalent to garbage, litter, junk, debris, or rubbish, trash is often times overlooked even though it is ever-present. Even the preceding definition fails to cover its multiple crevices and layers. In the contemporary world, trash represents a dynamic set of terms that shift with context, location, politics, culture, and society. This issue of kitsch explores this complexity. In “Visualizing the Lifecycle of the Disposable Coffee Cup,” Alyssa Anderson explores a world where human beings aren’t aware of how much trash—ahem, coffee cups—we produce. Olubanke Agunloye’s “Trash or Keep: Hand-Me-Downs from the Late 90s to Early 2000s” tackles the dichotomy of the valued and the valueless as she dives into a box that contains her siblings’ hand-me-downs. A treasure box? Most probably! Gaela LaPasta agrees in her visual essay as she captures the sentimentality, beauty, and possibility conveyed by thrifted objects. Similarly, in “That Weird Part of YouTube and Why It Exists,” Christopher Hansen thinks online trash is empowering and comforting, “If people love these things, they will most definitely love you.” And who’s going to argue with that?
Yet, trash is not only about rainbows and unicorns. Annie Fu’s satirical narrative in “Meditations of the Year in 2050” exposes trash’s threatening quality through the vengeful of voice of a Nestle Pure Life bottle (yikes!). Fuckboys, the walking and breathing embodiments of trash, get called-out in Elise Cording’s “Living Inside a Man’s Mouth” as she dissects toxic masculinity through her dating experience. However, Jean Cambareri cautions against call-out culture—specifically, that of social media—because, “people are being called out for their [trash] actions [and] there is no thought behind it. In the end, there are no consequences because of it.” Cleary, this issue of kitsch exposes the contradictory nature of trash, but that’s not all; the conception of trash is always evolving. So as you dumpster dive into this pile of opinions, photo essays, and personal reflections, we hope you question what trash means to you, and—trust us—your answers will surprise you.
–Annika & Abby