A Plastic Ocean Review

For this blog, I watched and analyzed well reviewed documentary A Plastic Ocean produced by Jo Ruxton where it goes into details into different experiences with marine life and their interactions with plastics.

The documentary starts out with an analysis of blue whales, yet the most impactful part of this documentary starts right in the first five minutes, depicting the blue whales surrounding and obstructed by the copious amounts of plastic in their natural environments. This type of imagery is featured below, and was continuously presented throughout the field to remind the audience the true intentions and progress the agenda of the film as a whole.

As the documentary continues it depicts different divers stories and accounts that feature their interactions with marine life and the plastic debris that they interact with on a daily basis. The documentary depicts the estimated the 2 million tons of plastic, just from water bottles, that the United States puts into the landfills each year and only continues to detail the problems with population growth and lack of recycling responsibilities.

As the documentary progresses the film projects the lifespan of trash and plastic pollution, using animation to depict how debris, even if found in landlocked lakes or landfills can eventually find their way into streams, eventually landing in our oceans. The documentary continues to use lots of camera and video footage to show the sea floor, with hundred of plastic debris sitting and decaying down where sunlight never hits. Another feature in the film shows a team of marine scientist are interview for the research efforts toward different microplastics in the ocean, which is interesting because the documentary discusses all ranges of pollution and how that would effect the marine life, such as diet or endangerment. The documentary continues to follow the different scientist and first hand accounts that depict their relationship with the ocean, the plastic debris, and the marine life they interact with for their careers and studies. They follow divers, marine conservationist, dietitians, landfill employee’s, parents, and major plastic manufactures in order to understand and highlight that the plastic problem effects every individual in human nature.

Something I really liked about this film was all the underwater media that they presented throughout the film that gives the audience a very real and understandable idea of what is truly under the surface. A major critique on human nature is our inability to really understand what is not put directly in front of our eyes, and it is documentaries and films such as this one that allow people to become more open minded and concerned with the marine plastic pollution issue.

One quote from the documentary that was really impactful was “the plastic is coating our land like a disease” and if I had to pick an overall theme and understandable goal of the film, it would be their intentional language that constructs the audience to deeply understand the tumultuous issue that is the United States major issue with plastic pollution and lack of responsibility for treating marine plastic pollution

Although most industries of information or entertainment have some forms of bias, the only major bias I believe was in this film featured the aggressive progressive attitude towards cleaning the ocean in order to decrease the immense harm that plastic pollution puts onto innocent marine animals. I think the film, although overall heartbreaking to watch, does an excellent job at using different imagery as long as excellent information to grab the audiences attention to promote hope for action.


Seventh Generations Green Features

Seventh Generation is an American company that sells eco-friendly cleaning supplies and personal care items. Seventh Generation produces plant based products made from sustainably sourced ingredients. Their mission is to “create a more healthy, sustainable, and equitable world for the generations to come.” They have many goals in place in order to maintain this mission. One goal  is for one hundred percent of their products and packaging to use bio-based or post-consumer recycled materials. Right now, their packaging is environmentally friendly and is used from recycled materials. The products are non-toxic and don’t contain chlorine bleach, phosphates, dyes, NTA or EDTA. They’ve also designed their packaging to be completely recyclable. Furthermore,  they recently eliminated synthetics in all fragrances and don’t conduct animal testing. 

In addition to producing sustainable products, Seventh Generation also donates ten percent of profits to non-profit community, environmental, and health business organizations. Right when you get to the Seventh Generation website there are tabs that outline their values, products, and their participation in activism. Under their activism tab they outline all of the issues they care about. One of the biggest issues being addressed right now is Line 3, keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Additionally, they have links at the bottom of the page that lead to other websites about climate justice and equity. They also provide links that allow users to get involved in the activism. 

Furthermore, Seventh Generation has another page on their site that outlines their environmental savings on products. Their savings ticker is based on average daily sales for some products in Canada and the US. It details the amount of trees and petroleum saved when you purchase a seventh generation product. The products for trees saved include; paper towels, bath tissues, and facial tissues. The products for petroleum saved include; Liquid Laundry, Free & Clear and all scents, all sizes, dish liquid, all scents and  All-Purpose Cleaner.

Seventh Generation also supports the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 Campaign. The campaign is an environmental initiative to get cities in the US to commit to one hundred percent clean and renewable energy usage by 2050. They also have a foundation, Seventh Generation Foundation. The foundation supports community activism and also offers grants to non-profit organizations.  


Global Consumption of Plastic

Pam Longobardi is an artist and activist and a professor at Georgia State University. She is also a professor at Oceanic Society’s Artist-In-Nature. Pam founded the Drifters Project in 2006. After hitting a plastic mountain, the ocean erupted on a remote Hawaiian beach. As part of the Drifters project, she collects, documents, installs, and transforms marine plastics into photos. This piece is a visual representation of the engine of global consumption and the huge number of plastic items and their impact on some of the world’s most remote places and creatures.

Longobardi is the recipient of the Margie E. West Prize. This is a prize given out annually to an alumni of the Lamar Dodd School of Art. She was invited to create a new display at the Marjorie E. West Gallery.

As you can see in this picture, the size of this piece is absolutely massive. These are just a few of the items they have found round the world in even the most remote places. Imagine the amount of plastic items they have found in heavily populated areas of the world. Probably millions of these pieces could be made. It’s so interesting to see artwork made out of a global problem we have nowadays. It really sheds a light to how much us as people of this world waste and either don’t dispose of it properly, or do dispose of it properly it just doesn’t have anywhere to go. This piece specifically by Pam Longobardi is called “Bounty, Pilfered.”

As you can see here, this video, Watch the National Geographic‘s video, shows Pam creating a piece of artwork made from plastic found on the Alaskan coast.

This piece above comes in at 12 ft by 8 ft. It uses 627 pieces of ocean plastic from Hawaii, Alaska, Costa Rica, California, Greece, Indonesia, Belize, Panama, Alabama and Georgia.

Shown here are just a few of the pieces Longobardi and colleagues have worked on. These pieces really capture the seriousness of plastic pollution, while enticing the audience looking at the piece and making it attractive looking. When making artwork, I think it’s especially important to make it look attractive. Especially if you’re trying to send a message to the audience, you should make your artwork colorful and attractive so it catches the audiences eyes. Once it catches their eyes, they can read the description about it off to the side at the exhibition and learn more about plastic solution and why it’s such a big and prevalent problem in the world today.



The Life Cycle of a Shirt

Four months ago, if you asked me about the life cycle of any plastic product, let alone any product, I would have no clue. Something that has always interested me is fashion, and it is crazy how the production of clothes affects the environment. Fun fact fashion is the second-largest polluter!!! Any garment of clothing goes through at least five significant stages: material, production, shipping, use, and finally the disposal. A shirt usually starts on a farm in either America, China, or India, where cotton is made by farming. This means that things like fertilizing, harvesting, and irrigating are involved. Cotton uses more pesticides than other crops, and the pollutants are carcinogenic, which can affect the workers. Crazy, I know!

After the cotton is picked up, it is shipped to a facility where it is spun, knitted, bleached, dyed, cut, and sewed. This stage uses many dyes and bleaches, which contain toxic pollutants that can affect our water system. Once it turns into cloth, it then goes to factories where the shirt is sewn. These people go through horrible working conditions. They barely get paid anything and work long hours. Once the shirt is made, it gets transported to warehouses and retailers. This transportation causes a big carbon footprint which takes up 10% of carbon emissions.

Dhaka, Bangladesh – March 2010.
Garment factory in Dhaka Bangladesh in the Mohakhali area.
Dhaka counts more than 4000 factories producing for export only.
This factory produced garments for the dutch company Hans Textiel.

Once the shirt gets purchased and has a home, it is worn over and over. This means it was washed and dried over and over, and the average person does up to 400 loads of laundry each year. Think about that…lots of water is used. Last but certainly not least of a shirt’s life cycle is when it gets thrown away. Cotton takes years to break down in a landfill, which means harmful emissions are released into the air.

Luckily, you can do many things—starting with not throwing away your clothes and donating them or selling them. Buying second-hand is an excellent way to reduce your impact. Even just after writing this, I am thinking about every shirt that I have purchased, and now I feel guilty. Starting now, I will start buying from companies that aim towards sustainability and buy second-hand (which I already do sometimes), and If I were you, I would too! Recently, I also started selling and donating my clothes instead of throwing them away, so that’s a start.