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The Recycling Logo and the Aesthetics of Environmental Hope

The Recycling Logo and the Aesthetics of Environmental Hope

Chapter:
(p.96) Six The Recycling Logo and the Aesthetics of Environmental Hope
Source:
Seeing Green
Author(s):
Finis Dunaway
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226169934.003.0006

Out of all the images that Earth Day 1970 would bequeath to the environmental imagination, none would be more significant than the recycling logo, a symbol that may well be the most widely seen image in contemporary culture, encountered daily in a plethora of public spaces and on a tremendous array of containers and packages. This chapter considers the origins and symbolism of the logo, which was designed by Gary Anderson and inspired by the artist M.C. Escher. The recycling logo helped citizens reimagine their relationship to the environment. The logo presented a new aesthetic of environmental hope and empowered individuals to feel that they could play a vital role in ensuring sustainability. The ravenous use of resources could continue apace, as long as people remembered to close the recycling loop and create, as the logo promised, a sense of ecological equilibrium, a permanent balance with the natural world. Rather than acting as evil defilers of nature, Americans could participate in a new form of virtuous consumption and find redemption through recycling.

Keywords:   recycling logo, Earth Day, Gary Anderson, M.C. Escher, environmental hope, virtuous consumption

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