Pollution Transformed Into Art
Washed Ashore is a non-profit organization that collects ocean debris from the coasts of Oregon and creates sculptures of animals that are endangered because of this debris. Since the organization was founded 10 years ago by Haseltime Pozzi, they have collected over 26 tons of plastic waste from the coasts of Oregon and have been able to sculpt over 70 large-scale animals out of the garbage.
Pozzi’s journey began when her husband was misdiagnosed by doctors multiple times and ended up dying from a brain tumor. She filed a lawsuit with the medical staff for 2.4 million dollars and won. After her husband’s death, she was going through a rough time and tried to find herself again by spending time at her grandma’s house, where she had spent her childhood. Walking down the beach where she used to as a kid, she noticed it was not the same. Instead of the clean and peaceful salty ocean breeze, she had to walk around in sand filled with plastic waste. This inspired her to start a new journey to save the ocean and start an organization in honor of her late husband using the money from the lawsuit.
Since the organization is non-profit, they are able to continue through money made from travel-exhibitions, donations and over 10,000 volunteers. The six staff members and numerous volunteers have a system in which they bring a sculpture to life. First, the people sort and clean all the debris that is not a biohazard. The plastic waste is sorted by color and is brought to the main workshop to be later integrated into a sculpture, which is done by both the staff and volunteers.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calculates that almost eight million tons of plastic wash up on shores every year, which means Washed Ashore is only able to make a small dent in this issue. However, they have made such a large impact that their sculptures have been featured at infamous places such as the United Nations Plaza in New York, Smithsonian National Museum and the Tulsa Zoo. The beauty of these projects is not just inside the sculptures themselves, but the fact that these sculptures are brought to life by an entire community that have a common goal of saving the ocean animals.
Cipolle, Alex V. “When the Ocean Gives You Plastic, Make Animals.” The New York Times, 23 Oct. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/03/09/arts/design/ocean-plastic-sculpture.html.