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.


Patagonia Green Efforts

Patagonia, a designer outdoor clothing cooperation, is one company in the United States that is actively working toward a greener future. Starting with an entire section on their website detailing their specific efforts toward green activism and informational infographics that detail the production line of textiles from start to finish, Patagonia has dedicated an entire section of its department to sustainable movement. They have created different programs, volunteer efforts, donation events, and more sustainable, concious efforts towards a greener future.

Patagonia’s company has reported that this season “87% of [their] line uses recycled materials” This practices encourages reducing plastic waste as well as reusing it, as well as avoids uses of fossil fuels to decrease climate change effects. Overall Patagonia’s activism section on their website encourages to keep yourself concisous when it comes to buying new clothes and textiles, and cut down on our societies desire of consumption. By encouraging the reduction of consumption of clothing items, Patagonia puts out the message that they would rather have quality over quanitiy and reduce the waste that goes directly into our enviroment. They have documented on their website all the materials put into their products, which feautre plasitic textiles such as wool and nylon, but as well as recycled versions of the materials as well.

A report and study by McKinsey & Company is placed on Patagonia’s website that showed “consumers buy 60% more items of clothing and keep them for half as long as they did 15 years ago”, and with clothing contributing to “10% of pollution as a whole” apperael companies need to start understanding their overall effect on climate change and plastic/textile pollution.

The Patagonia company has not only priotized green effrots as far as their prodcution line goes, but details on their website the exploration of the entire footprint their clothing brand creates. I think this is valuable as, although they are a major company, they are transparent and clear with their consumers of the lifespan and impact their products have on the enviroment. Patagonia has not only built a company of informative and responsible understanding of their enviroemtnal impact, but has created several programs to establish real, active efforts to improve their company’s carbon and sustainablity footpring. One program is the “Materail Traceablity Program” which strives to establish the traceability of all their materials in the supply chain and work towards only using “enviromentally sustainable materials available”. Patagonia has also created a “self-imposed Earth tax” which will put forth 1% for the planet and support different enviormental non-profits.

Although many companies use words such as “sustainable”, “green” and “conscious”, its apparent that sometimes large cooperations will market to the consumer what they want to hear, only to continue to practice unethical and polluting methods behind closed doors. I think Patagonia is one of the few major apperael companies that not only is conscious of their specific effects on the environment and informative, yet calls other companies out on their uses of ‘Greenwashing’ on their main infographic under activism.

Patagonia’s company I beleive is one of the few major companies that is truly transparent with their production line to understand the types of wastes and pollution that they may put forth in the enviorment. I think as our enviorment declines and our plastic pollution rates get higher, its these major companies responsibles to figure out the most effective way to reuse, recycle, and overall destory their plastic pollution all together.

Whale in the Plastic Ocean

While there has been many different artist who have taken on the task of portraying plastic pollution in our world, artist Cod Steaks created a major art instillation that takes the cake in this specific artistic category


Located in Bristol, United Kingdom this piece features two life-sized whales ‘swimming’ in an ocean of plastic soup, made from over 70,00 plastic bottles. This work is supposed to represent the “beauty and fragility of the ocean” and make a clear and bold representation of the reality of the world we have created through constant human environment degradation. The material choice of this work is the most important aspect overall, as the materials themselves are what truly represents the overall agenda of the artist themselves. Focused on the tumultuous amounts of plastic within our ocean, Steaks makes a specific point to shock and involve the audiences attention by displaying a realistic sized model to fully show the impact of the amount of waste and plastic pollution that fills our oceans on a day to day basis.

The grace of the rolling waves and the simplicity and size of the whale only show to contrast the damages and depletion that our Earth is going though due to the human condition and lack of concern our society as a whole as determined. The message is simple and is not an artistic piece that is difficult to understand by any means, but it values the importance of fixing the plastic pollution problem on a global scale


The value of art has a major impact on society as whole, using simple materials and symbolism to capture a message and certain agenda and portray it to the audience. I believe that art is often used as a from of expression over major issues within cultures and societies that need a push to have betterment in their realities. Plastic pollution has become a major issue within our economic, societal, political and cultural standards and has continued to push barriers in debate on what to do to better the environment humans have been depleting for so many years.

While I believe its easy to ‘support’ or ‘understand’ an issue, true symbolism, shock, and influence can not just be easily achieved, and I feel like Steaks does an impeccable job nailing all those major structures. The structure itself is amazing and grand in size that would take an audience by surprise and sheer shock when they stood next to it, yet the true impressiveness is the artistic flow and implicitness of the waves that are made from plastic, the truest form of symbolism of plastic pollution. Every aspect of the piece is made from some sort of plastic or metal material that weaves together the influence plastic has on not only the ocean itself but the marine life it surrounds as well. Cod’s agenda was very specific, with his ideology noting that “our sea of recycled plastic bottles represents the detrimental effect of plastic pollution on the ocean, which is something that all of us can act on—today—by reducing our consumption of single use plastics.” https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/s/see-whales-swimming-ocean-70-000-plastic-water-212729228.html

Art is a perfect way to symbolize bigger issues with a simple message to capture an audience’s attention and influence them beyond what any research study or article understanding could do. I will always have a major appreciation for the artistic field for the true impressiveness of symbolism and activism weaved within.

Its the Little Things

I don’t think it is an individual’s intention ever to live a life full of plastic and completely full of debris and waste; however, no human is perfect and we all have been trained to always engage and consume products that are at our convenience due to our hectic and busy lives. The question to be asked though is if you had the opportunity and resources to change, would you? I think most people would answer yes to that question, myself included, because, with the freedom, resources, and opportunities to do better for our world, most people, especially my generation would be willing to take the small steps they need in order to become more plastic-free.

I would consider changing many things, it’s more about the sustainable products cost and the availability to me readily as a college student without a car. However, it is my intention through this class to learn ways to change multiple little things in life that will hopefully transition my patterns and habits into more sustainable options that will continue to influence those directly around me. I do believe that making small changes in my daily life, whether it’s encouraging my friends to buy groceries from the farmer’s markets on Sundays, or consciously choosing to opt-out of straws when dining in, will leave a subtle impact on those around me to slowly change small habits as well that can make a small difference in their plastic consumption habits as well. It’s valuable for humans to make multiple little changes in order to increase sustainability because no matter the size or value of the small contribution towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle, the more sustainability mindset increases. 

Deli meat. Deli meat has been the hardest, although not specifically a plastic item, to replace to be completely plastic-free. Whether I am buying the turkey, ham, salami, or whatever it may be, from the shelves lined along with the grocery store or asking for fresh cuts from the actual market within the store, there typically is always some plastic element involved. Whether it be wrapped or packaged, there is hardly anyway I have been able to avoid the placement of one-time usage disposable packaging on my deli meat. Granted, if I was a vegetarian this issue would be completely avoidable; however, experiencing life in a big family [Eight people total] deli meat was always a staple as a convenient way to grab a quick source of protein and move forward with the day, and this was done with little to no throughout of the aftermath of the plastic wrappers and containers that all of it was kept

Although there is good news, with many different companies realsing more eco-friendly products, there is hope to create a more sustainable everyday lifestyle. I have created a list of ways to create a less plastic waste lifestyle from Beth Terry’s examples, and have consciously tried to find more reusable and sustainable products when I go shopping.

There was three things this week that I replaced with more sustainable options:

  1. Fruit– instead of buying fruit in plastic packaging from the grocery store, a friend and I were able to find compile fresh fruits into a small tote bag we had brought last Saturday at the a mini market they had after the Cooper River Bridge Run. This little change of how I receive fruit was not only a fresher and healthier option but also cut out any plastic packaging that would have been used in the production and consumption of fruit at any grocery store. As the market was so close to the dorms I faced no challenges getting the fruit and only reaped benefits from the interaction and will most likely to continue to search out food markets in downtown and strictly buy my fruit from that.
  2. Milk Jugs– After realizing the amount of milk jugs disposed off, with little ability to fully recycle them into new products, I have moved to buying cartons in hopes to produce less plastic waste overall. I actually found I liked this option more as I didnt necessarily need a full gallon jug of milk complelty for myself and have discovered I actually not only waste less plastic, but food product.
  3. Ziploc-After going to the store this week I decided to buy some small reusable bags for small snacks and products I take with me from place to place. While I found it more convenient to just throw out a small bag after using it in the trash as I was walking by, making the conscious decision to put it in a reusable, washable bag has made me feel better and more sustainable in my habits overall. From this point forward I hope to continue using this method and get rid of Ziploc all together.

In my advice I would say go for it, make the small changes, only positive interactions with yourself and the world can come from the little things in life!




The Oblivious Footprint

As I started my day out on Wednesday, September 15th, I started to collect small items throughout my day that would eventually lead to a pile of small objects that were used for one time at my convenience, and frankly I was disgusted with myself at the end of the day. Not by the fact that there was a small pile I collected on my bed to take a photo of, but at the thought of how little effort it takes to use and get rid of so many pieces of plastic throughout my day.

Plastic use, in todays societal and economic standard, is almost impossible to get away from. With American society producing 380 million tons of plastic every year, we are geared to using it in everyday lives. As I carried around a bag with me all day I realize that if everyone around me is using and disposing with the same patterns, even though I am more conscious of due to this class, then there is millions of pieces of plastics floating around all day.

Here is a collection of all the pieces of disposable plastic that I gathered with me throughout my day here on campus, and believe me, it was more than I was hoping for. Going back between each dining halls or making a stop in the morning at Einstein Bagels resulted in looking for the most convenient options that loaded my bag up with different pieces of trash throughout my day. I do believe that this pile of trash is well represented of my day to day life as I usually am in and out of the dining halls all day as I go from different classes. Around campus there’s a lot of Eco options that allow many of the ‘plastic’ items to be correctly disposed of but with the hustle and bustle of the day most college students forget about the ‘eco’ part of their plastic.

From this experiment and collection I learned that there is much more oblivion in my day than I realize, that I constantly am contributing to a carbon footprint with no actual realization of what Im putting and taking out of our environment consistently throughout my days. I have learned to challenge myself and put myself on a higher standard for my plastic consumption and use on campus while utilizing the sources the college puts in order to maintain a smaller carbon footprint. I think this experiment was valuable in that it was a tangible effort that granted me hands on visual learning of what I was really doing throughout my day. To put in conscious efforts throughout my day would allow at least some impact on my carbon footprint. I don’t think this specific day in my life increased or decreased my average days carbon footprint, as there was nothing truly unusual about the plastic I was using throughout the day.

I believe that finding resources around you that will help you be more ecofriendly in the long run. For example, near my parents house on Johns Island is a major recycling facility that helps sort and organize different sections of plastics and major products of waste that I have been using frequently this past summer.

I think its unreasonable to feel guilty towards ones own consumption and plastic usage if there were recently oblivious to the impact that their increasing rates had on their environment. I believe that if every individual could make a conscious and educated choice about their plastic usage, then society would decrease their rapid damages and human kind could be less ashamed of their plastic consumption rates