I was at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul yesterday. The zoo, which is undergoing some big renovations still had plenty of visitors because the Washed Ashore organization has an art exhibit going on there right now. It's both art and trash. Trash made into art. The exhibit invites you to think about the problem that trash in our oceans is creating for the animals that live there. (Wait, it's not just the animals, it's us too. We've got micro plastics in our drinking water.)
The parrot fish is one of the most colorful fish in the sea. Take a closer look and you'll begin to see the creative use of all the plastics that have been found by the many volunteers who clean the beaches along the coast of Bandon, Oregon. Somebody has got to color sort and clean all that stuff. A nice volunteer job if you lived out there.
The exhibit educates the viewer both young and old. It's the seeing is believing thing. There are a few statistics thrown into the exhibit for us too. "White is the most common color of plastic. Plastic pollution has spread to every ocean in the world and into all marine habitat. Water bottles from the 2008 Olympics in China are still being found on west coast beaches. Over half of the world's sea turtles have eaten plastic. Almost all the rope used by fisherman is made of plastic. Cigarette lighters wash in from all over the world. 90% of seabirds are estimated to have ingested plastic. Red, yellow, tan and orange imitate the colors of food for many animals. Approximately 6 million tons of plastic waste enters our oceans every year."
In my own efforts to walk and pick up trash, that first year in 2015 was a gold mine for finding larger weird plastics along the Mississippi River. What I find now is the presence of others who are also picking up. I can work a spot along the creek and a few days later that spot will have been finished off by someone else. Sometimes someone will stop and say "hey I do the same thing over by the Franklin Bridge" or "I'm working the area around Lake Minnetonka." There's the two guys who pick up trash on the other side of the river and the old couple on Nicollet Island that pick up on Sunday morning. There are people everywhere doing their thing in their own neighborhood.
There are five pieces of trash art over at the zoo. I wanted more, but you can visit the Washed Ashore website to see videos of making the art and find out where you can see exhibits.