Plastics In Our Lives: Artist Statement
I was not aware until just a few years ago of the shocking fate of the plastics that pass through our lives. I assumed that it was being dealt with responsibly after we throw it into the recycle bin. I couldn't have been more wrong. There were never effective policies and regulations for using plastics ethically.
I created these images to help others who might not be aware of the problem see what a mess we are making with plastics in our environment and our personal contribution to this sad disaster. It's easy to feel like we don't have much of a choice when we shop because so much of the food and products are packaged in plastic. We need to find our way back to buying spinach by the unpackaged bunch and bringing reusable containers to refill our pickles, cleaning supplies and other things that we regularly buy in single-use plastic containers. Grocery stores and other outlets need to hear from us that we want alternatives to plastic-packaged goods and we want them now.
This art shows conceptually what really happens to the single-use plastics that pass through our lives. Maybe the most common experience is that we buy something packaged in plastic. We throw that plastic in the recycle bin and either we don't give it another thought or maybe we think it will be recycled into something useful and will not have a negative impact on the environment. The truth is that only about 5-6% of those plastics are actually recycled. Much of it turns up in the ocean where it breaks down into microplastics that last for at least hundreds of years and which are already being found in the organs and tissues of many living creatures on earth, including humans.
The first three of my four images are a conceptual treatment of the problem. Shame will evoke different things for different people, but the way I see it, we were obligated to be good stewards of the earth. Indigenous people knew that, but those leading industries had different priorities. The Legacy of Adam and Eve symbolizes the sad result of the way industrial humans have conducted themselves over their history on earth. In the patriarchal story of Adam and Eve, we were born into the Garden of Eden where we had everything so long as we served as good stewards of the land. It didn't work out and all the people of the world have responsibility for what's happened.
All In This Together shows the grandchildren of Adam and Eve (all of us) with our contribution to the plastics problem. I asked my friends and family to save their plastic for three to four weeks and send me the pictures you see floating in the ocean. The last of my images, The Truth About Plastic, is not conceptual but a more literal depiction of the situation. We think we are "Reducing, Reusing and Recycling", but almost all of it ends up in the ocean!
Only 5-6% of plastic actually gets recycled, no matter how much you put in your recycling bin.
76 million pounds of plastic packaging are created by U.S. companies every single day.
24 billion pounds of plastic enter the oceans every year, killing over one million marine animals.