Around 100 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year of which about 10 percent ends up in the sea. As single use plastic, such as shopping bags, food packaging and throw-away toys make their way out to sea, they are ingested by wildlife, entangled in fins and collect into a giant man-made continent of plastic called the Pacific Gyre. Artists are drawing attention to this issue through visualisation of the problem, documentary film making and the creation of beauty from waste.


Depicting the scale of mass human consumption in his series of photos ‘Running the Numbers I and II: portraits of global mass culture’ Chris Jordan stretches our ability to conceive of this mad reality. More sculptural than photographic, the work is meticulous and the results poetic and startling. His ability to elevate statistics to fine art is a unique and powerful reminder of the continuing relevance of art in communicating the impact we are having on the planet. Gyre,pictured, depicts 2.4 million pieces of plastic, equal to the estimated number of pounds of plastic pollution that enter the world’s oceans every hour. All of the plastic in this image was collected from the Pacific Ocean, and when you zoom in on the image you can see every one.

Beach Plastic

Artists Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang have been collecting plastic washed up on their local North Californian beach since 1999 and making it to art in an ongoing project called Beach Plastic. Their plastic collages and installations are photographed and bound into art books – pictured here is a stunning collection of Kraft cheese dip sticks! The Pacific Ocean alone is polluted with about 100 million tons of floating trash, 80-percent of which came from land-based sources. Through their consistent efforts, the pair are now experts on ocean pollution, and find hope through the communication of the impacts of a throw-away society that comes from their work.

Sculpt the Future

Founded in 2006 by David de Rothschild, Sculpt the Future Foundation‘s aim is to promote positive environmental change towards global sustainability by supporting creative, innovative and sustainable action. Through the Foundation David runs Adventure Ecology which takes expeditions of scientists, artists and young people to polluted areas of the globe to inspire change. The most recent, Plastiki, took a catamaran from San Francisco to Sydney to tackle the issue of plastic waste in the ocean. A highly awarded and inspiring social entrepreneur, David de Rothschild is on a mission to create a Planet 2.0 model for acting and living.