‘Yucky Shards and Bagemite’: Discarded plastic fills the shelves at this absurd grocery store

Robin Frohardt, creator of the Plastic Bag Store, holds plastic bag roses at the art installation, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Robin Frohardt, creator of the Plastic Bag Store, holds plastic bag roses at the art installation, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 in Ann Arbor, Mich.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
By Charlotte Elton  & Joanna Adhem  with AP

Fancy a filling bowl of ‘Yucky Shards?’ You should head to the newly opened Plastic Bag Store.

The store - a custom built public art installation and film experience - features thousands of products made entirely from discarded plastic.

Its shelves are lined with items whose names are intended to mimic real-life products such as "Yucky Shards" (Lucky Charms), "Bitz of Plastic Crap" (Ritz Crackers) and "Bagemite" (Vegemite).

Creator Robin Frohardt says the project - currently open in Ann Arbor, Michigan - is designed to encourage visitors to think more about the enduring impact of single-use plastics.

"I got the idea many years ago after watching someone bag and double-bag and triple-bag my groceries," she explains. .

"I just was sort of struck by how ridiculous how much packaging is involved in our everyday lives.

"And it just seemed so absurd. I just thought, 'Maybe I could make a project that's even more absurd.' "

How bad is plastic for the planet?

Humans have swamped the world’s waterways and oceans with damaging plastic debris. More than 90 per cent of the world’s seabirds have plastic in their guts.

The hardy material is fossil-fuel intensive to produce - and takes millions of years to decompose.

Of the 10 billion tonnes of plastic that have ever been created, a whopping 6 billion sits in landfill sites or pollutes the environment.

According to Worldwatch Institute, a US based environmental research organisation, Americans throw out 100 billion plastic bags per year.

AP Photo
Cereal boxes filled with scraps of plastic are displayed at a grocery store that features thousands of products made entirely of discarded plastic, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023AP Photo

Recycling can help mitigate some of the worst effects of plastics. Yet a 2022 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that just 9 per cent of plastic is successfully recycled.

How can you visit the plastic bag store?

The Plastic Bag Store in Ann Arbor, Michigan will be open until 5 February.

It is presented via a partnership between the University of Michigan Museum of Art, University Musical Society, University of Michigan Arts Initiative and Graham Sustainability Institute.

Tickets are $30 (€27) for general admission. Student tickets cost $12 (€11).

The show premiered in Times Square in 2020. It has since made stops in Los Angeles; Chicago; Austin, Texas; and Adelaide, Australia.

At specific times throughout the day the store will be transformed into a stage for a series of short films. These pieces reveal the dangers of plastic waste and its consequences for future generations.

"I hope that we can continue to tour this project and bring it to different communities," said Frohardt, who is based in New York.

"My dream would be that this project becomes irrelevant.

"But it probably won't be."