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Around the world, 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year. Of this figure, only an estimated 12 to 15 percent is recycled, which stands in stark contrast to the 88 percent recycling rate for steel, and the 63 percent rate for paper. The majority of plastic is sent to landfill, where it frequently cause grave environmental problems for local people, animals, and ecosystems. Plastic can remain intact for up to a thousand years, before finally breaking down into countless, tiny microplastic fragments.
Meanwhile, an estimated 8.8 million tons of plastic waste escape landfills every single year and make their way into the oceans. Approximately 270,000 tons of plastic debris are located on the surface of our oceans alone, while 700 marine species are at risk of extinction due to the volume of waste that we throw into the oceans every year. There are currently five major “trash islands” in our oceans, and the most well-known of these – the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – is twice as large as the state of Texas! Researchers have predicted that if humans’ current habits of irresponsible plastic disposal continue, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by the year 2050. This has serious implications for human life, as oceanic ecosystems provide us with a staggering 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe. The literal suffocation of these ecosystems could spell the end of our existence on Earth as we know it.
Luckily, it isn’t all bad news. Cities and countries around the globe are enacting laws and launching campaigns to help citizens become more aware of how they can reduce the amount of plastic they consume. Many hard-hitting documentaries have been released to help illustrate the true scale of the problem, including A Plastic Ocean. A growing number of artists, inventors, entrepreneurs, and everyday people are taking action to end the crisis by repurposing plastic waste in truly incredible ways. If we band together and make a strong effort to curb the plastic epidemic, there is still hope for our planet. One artist who is using repurposed plastic waste in her work, with the aim of inspiring people to take action, is Aurora Robson.
This Canadian sculptor describes herself as not only an artist but also an environmental activist.
Robson has explained to Inhabitat that she views her work as “a wonderful opportunity to give people space to reflect on their behavior and on their relationship to matter and material that they come across in their daily lives.” She hopes that her decision to use discarded plastic to create beautiful artworks will cause people to consider how they can be more cautious about the plastic they use in their everyday lives, and to think twice before simply throwing it out.
This incredible piece, “Plant Perception,” depicts an eerie, octopus-like form invading an office building.
It could be interpreted as nature’s attempt to fight back against unchecked, environmentally destructive corporate greed.
This sculpture, “Isla”, bears a remarkable resemblance to a structure that might be found on a marine coral reef – calling to mind the marine animals and plants that are threatened by our waste.
A similar evocation is made in this piece – “Hotrodicus Symbioticus.”
“Exploding Plastic Inevitable,” through its very title, warns of the future that could lie ahead for us unless we get to grips with our plastic obsession.
Robson’s striking, visually beautiful creations urge us to make the connection between the waste we produce in our everyday lives and the creatures and ecosystems impacted by our behaviors. She is part of a growing number of artists who are helping to change the public’s perception of plastic use through their artwork. For more information, and to view more samples of her work, visit her website.
What You Can Do
While efforts are being made to remove debris from the oceans, improve recycling systems and innovate barriers to prevent plastic from getting into waterways, we can all take action in our daily lives to stop plastic waste at the source.
If we all take steps to identify where we use plastic and actively look for alternatives, we can drastically cut down on the amount of plastic Pollution that finds its way into the ocean. The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic a year. If everyone in the U.S. alone were to stop using plastic that would keep over 555 billion pounds of plastic out of the oceans!
As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, One Green Planet believes that reducing hidden plastics from our lives is not about giving up anything or sacrificing convenience, but rather learning to reap the maximum benefit from the items you use every day while having the minimum impact.
You can also learn how to reduce your impact on the planet by checking out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic Campaign.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
All Image Source: Aurora Robson