As we immerse ourselves into a digital age, with satellite navigation systems in our cars, and GPS mobile phone tracking in the palm of our hands, how much time do we have until paper maps and atlases become obsolete, in favour of their digital version?
From an environmental standpoint, digital maps may be a positive change, with a reduction in paper when printed maps are not longer required, lessening the strain on our diminishing forests. Will, however, the fascination of atlases in particular be lost in future generations? World maps filled with mystical discovery of far flung places, filling our minds with adventure, and appreciation at the sheer size of our planet. Will school children’s fascination with fantasy ‘pirate’ treasure maps, be lost as paper maps cease to exist for future generations?
We are taught to read maps from a young age, which are appreciated, and understood by the majority of the worlds’ population, regardless of language.
Historically, modern paper maps became increasingly popular, and accurate, around the 16th to 18th century, however, with the introduction of GIS (Geographic information systems) in the 1970s and 1980s, cartography has changed forever. Our earth, our countries, our cities and roads, are mapped, stored, and analyzed in digital format.
We could hold into our paper maps, giving us reason to rediscover our past world at a later time, although I suspect many outdated maps will be banished to landfill over the coming decades. Perhaps a better way of preserving our paper maps while we still have an abundant of them, might be to create a product which contains their existing material, but upcycled into an attractive piece to admire.
Such ideas include:
Delicate and detailed bird wall art by Claire Brewster
Origami Recycled Map Paper Swan by Ruti’s Roots
Map Coasters DIY Tutorial by Martha Stewart
“Don’t stash away or discard maps from your favorite vacation spots. Use them to make these handy coasters and you’ll be reminded of that special destination every time you reach for one.” Martha Stewart
World Traveller Headband by LaAlicia
“I secretly rescue maps before the get swept away to the rubbish bin or recycle bin. I carefully examine the usable pieces and use the prettiest ones to create wearable earth friendly frills. Decorate your hairdo while giving a nod to Mother Earth.” LaAlcia
Colourful recycled paper bowl, made from various maps by Ruti’s Roots
The beauty of using old maps in craft projects; they tell a story, serve as a piece of art, and from an environmental view, reusing paper maps for decorative purposes, gives Mother Nature the nod!
One wonders if we will also lose our sense of direction in our digital future, when paper maps are gone?