Dragon Burn: Shanghai’s Burning Man

Last month Isaac and I visited our first Burn! It was the Dragon Burn – Shanghai’s regional of the Burning Man. It was bigger than ever, with almost 700 attendees and there were plenty of workshops (planned as well as guerrilla) and lots of fascinating art pieces! As members of the Vegan Camp, The Cucumburners, we made a lot of delicious food to share with the camp as well as any hungry passersby. Check out the highlights of our camp and the effigy burning finale below:

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Precious Plastic: DIY Recycling

Plastic pollution has been making the headlines a lot recently and for good reason. According to the Guardian, about one truckload of plastic waste is dumped into the ocean every minute. That adds up to at least 8 million tons of plastics in our oceans annually!

While annual plastic production is increasing from 15 million tons 50 years ago to a predicted 1,124 million tons by 2050, only 5% of it is actually recycled. Not only is this incredibly devastating to the environment, but it is also ridiculous to throw away so much useful material after just one use! So, put down that bottle of water that you’re sipping on and DON’T recycle it. At least not in the way you were taught to at school.

Precious Plastic is a project that started in 2013 with a single mission: to transform plastic waste into reusable material on a local scale. Well, it also aims to raise awareness about plastic pollution, empower communities to take plastic waste into their own hands and ultimately save the world. Here’s how it works.

Dutch designer Dave Hakkens invented a series of machines capable of breaking plastic into smaller pieces in order to compress it, melt it and transform it into something new. He put these designs online and provided blueprints as well as a YouTube tutorial that anyone can follow for free! His idea spread all over the world as communities of passionate recyclers came together to make a difference. Hence, Precious Plastic Shanghai was born.

Precious Plastic Shanghai is a social enterprise highly committed to preserving the environment by creating awareness about plastic waste in China. Since 2016, they have been providing team building, hands-on activities and consultancy services for corporate, educational institutions as well as technological and exhibition centers. Their goal is to encourage teams and individuals to take ownership of their waste and get responsible. I attended their hard-plastic workshop last Sunday to see what all the fuss was about.

The workshop started with a lesson in distinguishing between different forms of plastic. Each type can be recognized by its identification number or, if it doesn’t have one, you can guess based on the way it looks, how it bends, or even the sound it makes. But in most cases, you can identify it based on its purpose.

After becoming slightly more educated in plastic, we got some HDPE (high-density polyethylene) bottles and the fun began. We cut the gigantic bottle into smaller pieces, put on goggles and started placing the pieces into the shredding machine. If nothing else sells you on this workshop, at least come to watch plastic getting ground up in a mesmerizing and surprisingly satisfying way. It’s absolutely magical.

Once shredded, the bits of plastic are sorted by color to provide a wide selection for when you create your recycled item. The rarest of all colors are pink and purple. Fun fact: black is the hardest color to recycle because the machines that do it cannot recognize it automatically.

Precious Plastic Shanghai offers a variety of workshops, but for this specific workshop we worked with boards of plastic slightly larger than an A4 piece of paper. We chose our preferred thickness and weighed the correct amount of plastic before filling the metal forms. My group’s plastic rainbow was heavy on blue while some of the others had every color imaginable!

Since it takes a while to compress, melt and then cool, we couldn’t actually work with the boards we prepared. Instead, we got to see the process of making them and then selected from previously made boards.

These boards can be made into anything from clipboards and clocks to artful designs or even jewelry. You just draw your design and use a powerful plastic cutting tool to carve out the desired shape. The possibilities are endless!

Although we only had flat boards to work with, you can use a variety of forms to create bowls, lamp shades and furniture! Once it cools, the plastic is hard and sturdy: a great material for pretty much anything. That’s what makes plastic so precious!

You don’t have to be rich to buy the materials to crate these amazing machines. They were specifically designed to be made with basic parts that can be purchased at most hardware stores anywhere in the world. The simple instructions allow anyone to buy the parts and follow the instructions to successfully create these plastic-transforming tools. But if you’re not an engineer or simply don’t have the time and patience to figure out how to do it, there might be an easier way for you to participate.

Precious Plastic Shanghai partners with XinCheJian, the first hacker space in China. This garage/studio/creative space offers membership for anyone who wishes to come in and get inspired. There are special workshops for people who want to learn to use these specific tools. Once you’re a member and have learned to use everything on your own, you can reserve a time to use the workshop and let your creativity flow.

Learn more about Precious Plastic on their website. To join XinCheJian or to learn more about Precious Plastic Shanghai, scan the QR code to follow them on WeChat.

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Shanghai Event Review: Ship of Dreams – The Titanic Experience

The Ship of Dreams – The Titanic Experience is only a once in a lifetime adventure if you can resist going twice!

When you’re not part of the crowd following Jack and Rose as they fall in love, you can enjoy some champagne on deck, watch the Captain have a few too many drinks or just explore the ship’s 1912-themed interior. These are just a few of the exciting possibilities aboard the Shanghai-docked Titanic!

Starting November 1st, you can become a guest on board the Titanic for an interactive theater experience. Until November 25th, the Ship of Dreams will sail away every night at 19:00 and will immerse you in the early 1900s. From the actors’ authentic costumes to the decor onboard the vessel, you’ll barely notice Shanghai’s famous skyline passing by.

My first night on the Titanic started off with wine and (surprisingly) vegan spring rolls. Guests around me sampled the wide variety of desserts and beverages while I got my brearings. The dining hall featured live music, dancing and other performances as well as a themed cocktail list.

With everyone dressed in floor-length sparkling dresses and classy suits, actors casually blended in. It wasn’t immediately obvious who was part of the show and who wasn’t. Walking around, I soon noticed dodgy man in search for something, a woman looking out at the ocean sadly and a young man scribbling in his scruffy notebook. *hint hint*

It took a while to make a full loop around the boat and I was pleasantly surprised by the comfortable number of people on board. Most of the passengers were following the main actors, which is how I found my way to Rose. To get inside her room, I had to slip in behind a couple who bribed the guard at the door. In the dimly lit room, I got my first glimpse of Rose, Cal and the Heart of the Ocean.

As Rose left the room, I had to make the difficult decision – to follow her or one of the many other characters? Throughout the night I would alternate following Rose, Jack or someone else. Since the play has 30 different storylines, it’s not an easy choice to make. However, the solution is pretty simple: go more than once!

I won’t spoil the rest of the experience, but trust me when I say it was completely unforgettable. The passionate actors were enchanting and managed to perfectly balance audience interaction with staying in character, and at other times acting as if they were the only ones in the room.

The audience had full control over their level of involvement in the play, although the characters only responded when appropriate. Some guests took full advantage and went out of their way to engage with the actors while others preferred to watch silently, just enjoying the moment.

Although everyone on board knew how the story would end, we were all pulled in by the dramatic buildup to the finale. There was excitement, commotion, pushing, shoving and desperate life vest bribing. I’m not going to say any more, but please don’t worry, no fancy suits or swooshing dresses got wet in the finale.

All in all, the Titanic Experience was truly unique and extremely well excecuted. After enjoying first-class treatment the first time around, I’m excited to return as a crew member next week for a completely new perspective on the Ship of Dreams.

There are several types of tickets to choose from:

  • First Class (including a 7-course dinner): 5,000 RMB
  • Lucky Traveler (including free-flow drinks): 880 RMB
  • Special Crew Member: 680 RMB
  • American Dreamer: 180 RMB (Students only)

Since the first time I followed the main storyline and focused on Jack and Rose, I will spend my second night on the Titanic discovering one of the other storylines. As a crew member I will supposedly have access to places where other passengers can’t go which is too tempting to pass up!

Are you curious to see behind the scenes, meet the Unsinkable Molly Brown or just see what the Titanic hype is all about? Book your tickets today! Thank you DreamWeaver Productions and the DeTao School of Design for the unforgetable night that transformed the Huangpu river feel like the Atlantic ocean.

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