Reuters 2020

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - Sheilagh McCafferty’s eyes lit up as she pulled apart one of a pile of vape cartridges, a treasure trove of wiring, lithium batteries and light-emitting diode (LED) dots that the costume designer used to decorate some of her creations.

The “carts” - single-use e-cigarette devices often found littering American beaches and hiking trails - were the source of 150 shiny LED dots that the Sacramento-based artist salvaged to bedazzle a pink wool jacket, known as “If Jackie O Vaped.” The embellished jacket is one of the highlights of a new exhibit in Sacramento, California, featuring artworks made from disassembled cartridges. The show, called “Carts for the Arts,” is intended in part to call attention to the growing problem of vape litter and the need for manufacturers to redesign single-use products into reusable and recyclable devices. The exhibit, sponsored by Up Kindness, a non-profit that promotes sustainability, runs through Feb. 28 at the Atrium, a gallery in California’s capital city.

“It’s a strong message: Can’t we do something about the waste?” said McCafferty, 64, one of 13 artists in the show. With recreational marijuana legal in California, used carts in the state often contain cannabis residue, leading California to classified them as hazardous waste. As a result, leading recycling businesses steer clear of them, and the carts often end up tossed out as litter or thrown into landfills.

McCafferty, who is better known in the design world for creating elaborate wedding gowns adorned with pearls and sequins, said her ornamental use of LED dots was “a fashionable way to share our desire for a more sustainable future.”  In the vape cartridges, the LED display lights up to indicate that the cart is being used or battery power is running low.  Among the other pieces in the show is a necklace made of copper wire, glass chambers and silicone washers, all cannibalized from vape carts. There is a silver lame fabric purse with a handle made from plastic zip ties interwoven with glass vape chambers.