The Prolonged Impact of the TikTok Resin Trend
How a one-time hobby can have a longstanding environmental impact.
Finally, after months of quarantining and social distancing, you caved in and downloaded TikTok — the social media app popular amongst the younger generation. You have exhausted all other hobbies: bread baking, bullet journaling, and binge-watching no longer excite you like they once did. Now, amid scrolling through videos of dancing teens and new recipes, you have found a new hobby to try your hand at:
This art form has been around for quite some time and can be used in many forms. Sometimes, resin is used as a sealant for art. It can be poured over many surfaces such as wood, concrete, and metal. Pour over resin can protect personalized cutting boards, painted tables, and even canvases. Another form of resin art is a creation made entirely out of resin. A resin mixture is poured into a silicone mold to create resin sculptures and items. Resin is hard and resistant, so it can be used for personalized dice, earrings, ashtrays, and coasters. These resin creations can be personalized to your liking, and often have colored glitter and dyes added to the resin mixture. The appeal is all there: easy, original, and one-of-a-kind. That is until it’s no longer trendy.
The common type of resin used for art is Epoxy resin. Epoxy permanently cures from liquid to solid when it is heated. It can never go back to its liquid state after being cured, which makes the disposal of the product fairly tricky. In its liquid state, Epoxy can cause skin and eye irritation. Liquid resin should never be poured down a drain. In its cured form, epoxy resin is a solid that is hard to break. According to the Epoxy Resin Committee — a European based council focused on the chemical industry — many of the popular resin art creations are hard to dispose of because they are more than 5% resin. Products that require pouring resin into molds, like dice and ashtrays, are made entirely out of resin, as opposed to products that have a resin coating. Because epoxy resin is a thermoset chemical, these items are impossible to mechanically recycle since they are a forever solid. Unlike plastic, which can be repurposed into a plethora of products, epoxy resin can only be “repurposed” into more resin — no other product can be made.
However, the repurposing of resin can only happen if the product is properly disposed of.
Like everything in life, we keep on moving. Clothes go out of fashion and trends become tacky. Once items reach their trendiness expiration date, they end up at the local Goodwill, or even worse, the trash can. Not to mention all the failed DIY attempts people have been too ashamed to keep, so they find their forever home in the landfill. We believe items are disposable; once they reach their purpose they are no longer our issue. It is this single-use mindset that is a plague on Earth. A simple craft, a common trend, a way to pass time. It all has an impact beyond our use — beyond our lifetime.
We must understand that our actions, our choices, and our products have a long-standing impact on the world. Just because something is out of sight does not mean it is gone forever. To combat this, we must consider some things before consuming a product:
1. What is the lifetime of this product for me?
Will I get tired of it in 3 months or will I keep it for years? If you cannot see yourself using this product in one year, do not buy or make it. Why create something just to be thrown away? Also, consider the product itself: is it made of cheap materials or will it withstand years of use? For your wallet’s sake, and for the planet, avoid buying cheap items that will wear down after the first few uses. Your belonging should belong to you for years, not the landfill.
2. What is the lifetime of this product after my use?
What is the product made out of and how can it be repurposed? Glass items are preferable to plastic because there are more options for repurposing. The same goes for items that are easily biodegradable. If this product is meant to be thrown away, consider going for the more sustainable options.
3. Can I use a product I already have to do the same job?
Does this require buying or creating an entirely new product? We have all heard it a million times before but reusing items is the best way to cut down on waste. All it takes is some creativity, and suddenly you have something new out of what was old!
New trends can be tempting, but we have to consider what goes on after these trends die out. We must know that though trends may not last forever, certain products will. It takes time and practice, but becoming more self-aware is the first step. Whether it’s resin art or a fast-fashion shirt, it is important to consider the impact of that item.