Spotlight: marine debris – as ocean art

“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.” ~ Jacques Yves Cousteau

penguin face - washed ashore

Garbage in our oceans. It’s a huge problem. Marine debris comes in all forms, and is alarmingly plastic. It’s impossible to fully quantify the scope of the problem. A year ago, National Geographic estimated  there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean- “Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea.”

While citizens take their own action to clean up what they can of the harmful debris choking our oceans and call for larger actions, the artists at Washed Ashore create stunning ocean art from the debris they clean up.

As PBS NewsHour pointed out,

“In six years, Haseltine Pozzi {Lead Artist and Executive Director at Washed Ashore} and her team of volunteers have created 66 sculptures from more than 38,000 pounds of debris collected from a stretch of Oregon’s coastline.”

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As Washed Ashore says, “The countless bottle caps, flip-flops and beach toys are just a fraction of the more than 315 billion pounds of plastic estimated to be in the world’s oceans. Such plastics not only pose entanglement threats to Marine animals, but are often mistaken for food.”

The hard-working folks at WashedAshore calculate the sheer impact of their work so far:

  • 90% of marine debris is petroleum based
  • 95% of all debris collected is used in the artwork
  • 300+ miles of beaches cleaned
  • 60+ sculptures have been created
  • 38,000 pounds of marine debris has been processed
  • 14,000+ hours have been contributed by volunteers
  • 10,000+ volunteers have participated

Washed Ashore is on exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington DC through early September. Check their exhibit calendar for future exhibit locations.

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