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3 Artists Use Trash to Create Awareness

3 Artists Use Trash to Create Awareness

Society’s Discards Spark Change

The Bandon, Oregon-based Washed Ashore Project is on a mission. And they’ve found kindred spirits in Portugese artist Bordalo II as well as photographer Benjamin Von Wong of San Francisco. All three are using society’s discards to make a statement as they literally turn trash into treasure. By bringing their artistic creations to the world, they’re also shining a strangely beautiful light on the worldwide problem of pollution.

Art to Save the Sea


Both Washed Ashore and Von Wong have chosen plastic as their preferred medium, due to its devastating impact on our oceans. Angela Hasseltine Pozzi, Washed Ashore’s lead artist and executive director, uses tons of petroleum-based products (mostly plastic, fishing nets and nylon ropes) gleaned from the Oregon coastline by an army of volunteers. Once the debris is cleaned and sorted, she and her team use it to construct huge colorful sculptures of the very sea life most impacted by the thoughtless acts of those who discarded it. The sculptures are amazing in their scope, size, design and detail, and at least 17 of them recently helped bring awareness to this global problem as part of the traveling exhibit “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.”

Here is a video from PBS NewsHour featuring the large Washed Ashore exhibit that was recently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

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NorwexMovement.com members who are logged into this website can support organizations like Washed Ashore with actions they take while they’re logged in. So simply by sharing this blog, you could earn Eco Points that will ultimately benefit organizations like Washed Ashore.

Mermaids Hate Plastic

Von Wong is a conceptual photographer with a passion for creating awareness about something considered “ordinary, ugly and boring”—plastic pollution. To make sharing the problem of plastic waste easier, he recently undertook a project to turn it into something extravagant, unique and different. Using 10,000 plastic bottles and a live-model “mermaid” named Cynthia, he and his team created an eye-opening series of photos for his “Mermaids Hate Plastic” project on change.org.

Watch the fun, behind-the-scenes video of the fascinating transformation:

Trash Animals

Portugese artist Bordalo II uses objects he scavenges from junkyards and deserted factories to spotlight the role of today’s culture in the destruction of our environment. In a September 2016 article by Colossal magazine, he explained:

Bordalo Icon“The idea is to depict nature itself, in this case animals, out of materials that are responsible for [their] destruction. Sometimes people don’t recognize that their simple routines are too much, we are using too many resources too fast and turning them into trash, waste, and pollution.”

Bordalo II beautifully interprets this point using rusted-out car chassis, burnt garbage cans, tires and more to create giant junk sculptures of foxes, lizards, rodents and birds.


From Castoff to Cutting Edge

It’s somehow satisfying to see discards enjoying renewed life. The new “Ahi surfskate” by Bureo Inc. is another great example. The skateboard, which behaves like a surfboard in water, is constructed from recycled fishing nets—one of the most harmful forms of plastic waste in our oceans.

comment_2Have you ever given new life to an old item? We’d love to know how you repurposed an item bound for the garbage bin into something beautiful and/or useful. Please share your story below.


Besides “Repurpose”, can you name the other 5 Rs?

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Jessica Ferrell
Jessica Ferrell
7 years ago

I love the work of Bordalo II!

Tanya Aoyagi
Tanya Aoyagi
7 years ago

I had the amazing opportunity to visit Washed Ashore with some teammates last November. We participated in beach cleanup, creating panels for the sculptures, and seeing how Angela and her team create beautiful, meaningful art out of plastics. That visit changed the way I see plastics in my life, and it has had a huge impact on what my family chooses to use or not use.

Anne Baudouin
Anne Baudouin
7 years ago

When clothes are no longer usable I cut them up – sew them together in a sort of quilt and thereby make backings for various crochet and knit projects I have. The end result, after much relaxation (the time used to do the above) is a blanket for the homeless.

7 years ago
Reply to  Anne Baudouin

What a thoughtful, loving way to relax! Thanks for sharing, Anne!

Jo Buchanan
Jo Buchanan
7 years ago

So sad, but amazing artwork!

Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
6 years ago

That mermaid art is my FAVORITE!

Londyn Eaton
1 year ago

I appreciate you sharing this blog post. Thanks Again. Cool.