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Letters to the Future Uses Plastic Waste To Send Lasting Messages

by Jacob Kuppermann on August 24th, 02021

3 bound copies of the Letters to the Future Project
3 bound copies of the Letters to the Future Project. Source: Letters to the future

In our efforts to foster long-term thinking and preservation, we at Long Now do not typically think of single use plastic as an ally. Yet that’s precisely what the non-profit art project Letters to the future does, harnessing plastic’s lack of biodegradability to make a point about what we as a society leave behind not just to our children and grandchildren, but our great-great-great grandchildren as well.

A person standing over some sheets of recycled plastic, preparing it for processing.
A person standing over some sheets of recycled plastic, preparing it for processing. Source: Letters to the future

Letters to the future takes plastic collected from the streets of Vietnam and uses it as the paper for a series of over 300 letters written from all over the world, addressed to the writers’ descendants five generations hence. 

A closeup of one of the letters contained within the project, including text in Arabic script and in English.
A closeup of one of the letters contained within the project, including text in Arabic script and in English. Source: Letters to the future

The project was conceived of by Vietnamese creative agency Ki Saigon and funded by Vietnam-based pizza restaurant chain 4P’s to commemorate the 10th anniversary of their founding. 

Learn More

  • Check out the Letters to the future website for more insight into their vision and process.
  • Watch Susan Freinkel’s 02012 Long Now Talk on how to get the benefits of plastic’s amazing durability while reducing the harm from its convenient disposability.