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Articles by John Pavlus

John Pavlus is a filmmaker and writer whose work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired, Slate, NPR, Fast Company, National Geographic, and The Discover Channel. Follow him @johnpavlus.

Featured Article

Why make a movie about the red party cup? And why with Grist?

It wasn’t an obvious match at first, because I certainly didn’t start this project with any interest or intentions about “sustainability.” I, Party Cup began with my own curiosity about the design of everyday things — things that are part of the built world but taken totally for granted, like traffic cones, fastening rivets, doorknobs … and disposable drinking cups. These things are just “around,” but they weren’t always. They were each and all created — by someone. By definition, any part of the built world has to have a First Mover, a Creator, an Author. That was my assumption, and I wanted to take my best shot at finding out who that person was for this particularly recognizable and yet utterly forgettable, disposable object: the red plastic party cup.

As you’ll see in the film, I ended up questioning my working assumption about Authors. But I did meet three people who were responsible. What does that mean? What’s the difference? And what does that have to do with “sustainability” — whatever that is?

It all comes down to the question: Who cares?

Think for a second about... Read more