Campus Cribs: A salvaged spectacle

Sofie Netteberg ’20 has covered her walls floor to ceiling with an unlikely accoutrement: bubble wrap. Anna Lietman/Contributing Writer

Have you ever received a package with an excess of bubble wrap and wondered where to dispose of it? As an alternative to the standard trash can, Sofie Netteberg ’20 would love nothing more than to recycle that unwanted, underappreciated packaging for you into unique room decor. Epitomizing the mantra “trash to treasure,” her decor consists strictly of bubble wrap – a bubble wrap chandelier, bubble wrap wallpaper, bubble wrap streamers and bubble wrap mobiles greet you as you enter the room.

In fact, she often finds uses for trash of various sorts. Once during a brief interval between frisbee games, she proclaimed that she was going on a walk through the woods and returned with a handful of garbage. On a separate beach stroll, Netteberg hauled a dead tree into a teammate’s car, insisting on keeping the lucky yet unwieldy find that proved hard to smash between the seats of her medium-sized Sedan. At dinner one evening, she wiped oozing ink off of a leaky pen, turning the resulting green-splattered napkin into a piece of art, and on another occasion I witnessed her craft a homemade “tower” out of a banana peel, toothpicks and strawberries.

However, Netteberg’s room is her greatest accomplishment. One of the pre-frosh she hosted noted that “no other dorm room I’ve seen has looked like this;” clearly, Netteberg is far from mainstream. Pointing, she exclaimed to me, “My cool litter is on the wall over there,” and, in the next sentence, qualified that she may or may not be a hoarder. Others in her entry described the decor as “avant-garde,” suggesting she could Project Runway as “one of those designers …who takes a pile of random stuff and makes a something gorgeous out of them.” These unexplainable accoutrements do not seem to serve a purpose, but they do exemplify Netteberg. Her decoration is not intended to carry an artistic significance, nor does it preach environmentalism. Despite the spontaneity of her room design, however, the bubble wrap could be interpreted, albeit without the intention of the author, as a message concerning the extravagant overuse of online ordering by students at the College.

Even as a first-year at the College, there is no doubt that Netteberg has learned a lot at this institution. She can now proudly claim to be an expert in the subject of bubble wrap, an area in which her knowledge abounds. “I’ve learned that there are two brands of the packing peanuts,” she said. “There’s sealed air and there’s air plus. I like to have both the blue and green ones for the globes so that they kind of resemble earth.” She has noticed a recent trend in bubble wrap, commenting that “they’re trying this new thing with bubble wrap where the bubble is in the middle and there are two pieces of plastic on the outsides.” According to Netteberg, bubble wrap is surprisingly heavy, evidenced by one of the chandeliers hanging above her bed that toppled down onto her, sleeping, in the middle of the night. Apparently, the strings she cut from the fence in Frosh Quad were insufficient to carry the weight of all of the air-filled balloons.

“I started the year with 200 of these pins and have maybe 30 left,” Netteberg said, desmontrating the sheer amount of trash — both bubble wrap and other varieties — she has fastened to her cluttered walls. She plans on moving on to bigger and better things once she has the chance to redecorate her room next year. Next year, her next mission is to collect all of the wrappers she uses throughout the year and pin them to her walls.  Is there perhaps an environmental message here? Like her current decor, that remains a mystery.