Thursday, January 27, 2011

Food For Thought: Beach Garbage

We have probably all heard of the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch by now. A couple of years ago we were told it was twice the size of Texas, now they are stating that it is smaller than originally estimated. Whatever size it may be, plastic is a huge problem in our oceans. It strangles sea creatures, alters eco systems, and is a horrible reminder of our disassociation with our environment. How is it possible that a plastic deodorant container makes sense to me standing in the drugstore isle, when it will end up residing forever in a landfill or bobbing about in the ocean until it is washed up on shore to reside on some beach for millennia?

Plastic is a tough subject to wrestle. More moments of weakness lie within my resolve to choose responsible products and packaging than I want to admit. Then I boat in to a tropical paradise, miles from industry and the machinations of corporate civilization, and encountered the vistas below. A beach littered in a wide variety of plastic, many items not even available on the little island, but there they were, washed up for me to document. I have to admit to finding it all quite fascinating and as I looked at the photos after, I realized that the shots almost glorify the garbage. I meant to show the juxtaposition of the trash and the natural environment, but I think I may have taken my subjects to a primarily compositional level, as opposed to a documentary one. Whatever the case, this scene absolutely reopened my eyes to the problem with using plastic so ubiquitously in our everyday lives.

There are a number of artist working with beach litter as their inspiration and materials. One of my favorites is Rebecca Crawford in England.

A great ocean and beach preservation charity is the Surfrider Foundation based in California.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Wow--so shocking. The picture with the bright yellow bottle in the foreground and the beautiful, typical "tropical paradise" stand of palm trees in the background really puts it in perspective....It's so easy to forget the impact little, everyday decisions we make have. (I remember a friend who lived in Japan for years always stocking up on tampons when she was home because they were difficult to find in that country. Apparently everybody disliked them due to the amount of "Korean torpedoes" that washed up on their western shore!)