Origomu: Transforming Plastic Six-Pack Rings into Wearable Art


By Lisa Monozlai

From intricate and beautifully contoured necklaces to oversized, modern tote bags, Origomu is transforming plastic six-pack rings that would otherwise have landed in the ocean into statement jewelry and accessories. Founded in 2010, the Origomu, movement is working to eliminate the 46, 000 pieces of plastic found in each square mile of ocean by turning waste into wearable art and providing jewelry design workshops to previously incarcerated low-income women. “Origomu is designed to remind people that debris can be used to make something useful and beautiful, which makes people change the way they think about sustainability and recycling and even inspires them to design something themselves,” says Founder, Tatiana Pagés, who is CEO and Chief Creative Officer of the design firm, Greencard Creative, which also fosters many art-inspired socially conscious projects. Origomu Chilean-born Pagés is especially interested in the intersection between innovation, design and corporate social responsibility. Her understanding of how we can arrive at this intersection is what prompted her to create a conscious design firm that stands among businesses unconcerned with furthering social good through their products. In 2008, Pagés founded New York-based Greencard Creative. “I have always had a dream of using interdisciplinary thinking to arrive at innovative ideas that intrinsically had a social purpose or corporate responsibility. I did not feel that was happening in the corporate world,” says Pagés. The Origomu movement came a short while after and grew from many of the same principles that served as inspiration for the development of Greencard Creative. Pagés thought that the same disciplines of innovation, design, corporate responsibility and entrepreneurship could be used to “impact environmental awareness as well as help underprivileged women.” Origomu So how does Origomu work? Since the beginning of the movement, more than one million plastic six-pack rings have been collected and recycled. Jewelry makers are asked to craft pieces from the rings and send their designs to Origomu where their techniques are often displayed on the website. Individuals interested in participating in the movement can learn these techniques at home or at workshops where lessons on design, using past ideas, are made available. Along with advocating for the recycling of waste products and the living metaphor of turning garbage into beautiful artwear, Origomu has a prominent focus on social issues. The movement organizes jewelry-making workshops for low-income, previously incarcerated women as a way to foster creativity, friendship and entrepreneurship. “The transformation of these plastic six-pack rings makes these women feel happy and accomplished and I find that they truly enjoy the dynamics that these workshops provide. These women also see a potential business opportunity that they can pass along and teach to their kids. The fact that the workshops are not about my designs but theirs makes a big difference. They are not a production machine they are creators of their own pieces,” says Pagés. Origomu More than 400 women have been taught the Origomu technique of forging elaborate and unique jewelry and accessories from six-pack rings and approximately 300 designers from 25 countries have participated in the project. Origomu continues to grow and build partnerships in the non-profit sector of Latin America and New York as well as other organizations around the world. Pagés believes that the movement thrives because people are naturally creative and are more willing to be sustainable if they can recycle with their own hands. “Simply telling someone to reuse, reduce, and recycle, does not go deep enough to convince people to take action.” Origomu

lisa molonzaiAbout the Writer

Lisa Monozlai is a current student at the University of Toronto pursuing a double major in Political Science and English Literature. She’s an avid writer and arts enthusiast who has an uncontrollable fascination with fiction and non-fiction stories and the mediums used to tell them. Although she’s very interested in travelling, Lisa is born and raised in Toronto and continues to live in the city. She’s found Toronto a great place to explore culture on a smaller scale by frequenting the many hidden nooks and multicultural hotspots that the city has to offer. Lisa writes for her university’s independent newspaper and has written for various online publications. You can find her on Twitter @lisamonozlai

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