By: Zachary Hill, Reporter
OMAHA, Neb. – Lauritzen Gardens is the latest to host an exhibit hoping to bring awareness to plastic waste in the ocean
According to EarthDay.org, over one million marine organisms are killed each year from discarded plastic.
Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea is a non-profit that started in 2010 by the artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi. In 13 years, Washed Ashore has created over 80 sculptures seen by 300 million people and have helped clean 37 tons of trash off the Oregon coast.
What makes their creations so unique? They are made 100% from plastic waste donated by folks who walk the beaches and participate in cleanups. From there, the debris is cleaned by the team where 75% to 95% can go on to be stored in their warehouse to use for art said Conservation Education Director Brad Parks.
“Large items organized along one side and then smaller items organized in little bins on shelves, but it’s all color focused because it really is our media for creating all the works” Parks said.
It’s an easy problem to disregard living in the Midwest, but 80% of plastics found in the ocean start from inland sources, like the Missouri River.
Improperly disposed plastic in Omaha can be washed into storm drains from rain or snow, which leads to the Missouri River, to the Mississippi, to the Gulf of Mexico.
“And so 33 states alone in the Eastern and Central United States all feed into the Mississippi” Parks said.
The Gardens’ focus is to not only educate inland residents, but highlight the ways our local community can recycle and help the cause. Exhibit visitor Remy Kellogg said it’s already making an impact.
“You can see how all these different plastic parts make something beautiful, but you also gotta pay attention to the meaning of the exhibit” Kellogg said.
The team puts recognizable items you use in your daily life on the outside of the sculptures, to get the observer really thinking about the way they use plastic.
Parks said the endgame is to run out of art supplies, but plastic production is only increasing. While it can be useful, the way we use it needs to change, or it will continue to cause harm to not only marine life, but humans as well.
Washed Ashore will be on display at Lauritzen Gardens until May 14, 2023.
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