Plastic pollution on our lands and in our oceans has become a progressively more serious problem over the last few decades. It is currently estimated that we dump over 8.8 million tons of plastics into the oceans every year, and an estimated 700 marine species are at risk of going extinct as a result. This is a very urgent issue considering that it can take thousands of years for plastic waste to break down, and when it finally does so, it doesn’t disappear but rather simply turns into smaller and smaller pieces (this actually makes it easier for plastics to spread far and wide and get consumed by a myriad of marine life).

However, it is possible to come up with innovative new methods of recycling this trash. The documentary “Landfill Harmonic” charts one Paraguayan community’s efforts to make musical instruments out of their trash. Meanwhile, a variety of talented artists, including Veronika RichterováMbongeni Buthelezi, and Alejandro Duran, have used plastic waste as materials for their work.

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And now, prepare to be inspired by Washed Ashore, an amazing community-based artists’ collective in Oregon. Led by Angela Haseltine Pozzi, and supported by the Artula Institute for Arts & Environmental Education, Washed Ashore aims to create stunning and thought-provoking pieces of art out of plastic trash, and in doing so, educate the public about why the waste we produce is such a problem.

The quality of the group’s work is truly breathtaking.

Who knew that something so beautiful could be created out of the ugliness of plastic waste?

The works have begun to garner a lot of positive attention.

The Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History said, “The sculptures’ construction is truly a community effort, with volunteers collecting trash from the beach, cleaning it, sorting it, and then building the sculptures together.”

Aside from their visually striking effect, however, the sculptures also serve the important purpose of education around the horrors of plastic pollution.

Washed Ashore said, “Marine debris is a planet-wide problem. (We) want everyone to be part of the solution.” Every exhibition they plan is geared toward helping people to understand exactly why we need to wake up and save our oceans.

In their first year of operation, the group collected a whopping 7,000 pounds of marine waste and created eighteen sculptures.

Around 98 percent of the collected waste was used. Today, four years into the group’s existence, that figure remains the same.

In total, Washed Ashore has cleared over 300 miles of coastline.

10,000 volunteers have participated in the group’s work, of which 8,000 were schoolchildren.

On their site, they offer a variety of ways to get involved as a volunteer … so if you want to pitch in, let them know!

You can also help them by donating or becoming a sponsor!

And did we mention that they also have an ultra-cool online store, where you can buy some epic recycled jewellery?

Let’s hope this amazing group continues to grow in strength!

 

While groups like Washed Ashore are continuing to raise awareness of just how shocking the scale of the plastic pollution problem has become, there is plenty that we as committed eco-conscious consumers can do. By making small adjustments in our everyday lives, we CAN pull together and make a difference for the ocean and all of the creatures who rely on it … before it’s too late. For advice and resources to help you cut plastic out of your life, read some of the articles below.

All image source: Bored Panda

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