From our friends at Oregon Zoo

Shark sculpture created from plastic waste washed ashore on the beach at the Oregon Zoo. © Oregon Zoo / photo by Michael Durham

Roughly 300 million pounds of plastic is produced globally every year—but less than 10 percent is recycled. As a result, millions of pounds of plastic ends up in our oceans.

Washed Ashore takes on the global marine debris crisis by creating larger-than-life sea creatures made entirely of discarded, washed-up plastic waste. Kids can get up close to Chompers the Shark, who greets visitors on the boardwalk, Hugo the Humpback Whale, who can be spotted near the concert lawn, and more, and identify the different discarded items used to build these animals—while seeing firsthand the importance of keeping our beaches clean.

Penguin and chick sculpture created from plastic waste washed ashore on the beach at the Oregon Zoo. © Oregon Zoo / photo by Michael Durham

Founder and director Angela Haseltine Pozzi began the project in 2010, collecting accumulated plastic along the Oregon coast. With the help of a small staff and volunteers, Pozzi has processed tons of plastic and transformed it into powerful art with an important message. 10 years later, more than 10,000 volunteers have helped collect plastic debris washed up onto beaches, and worked with Washed Ashore to process over 20 tons of debris into over 70 sculptures, which depict animals affected by plastic pollution.

Other sculptures in the exhibit include a fish made entirely from flip-flops, a sea jelly bloom created with plastic water bottles, and a seal named “Lidia” for the plastic lids used in her design. Each giant, colorful sculpture brings with it a potentially life-saving message for the creature that inspired it.

Harbor seal sculpture created from plastic waste washed ashore on the beach at the Oregon Zoo. © Oregon Zoo / photo by Michael Durham

Nearly 9 million tons of plastic enter our oceans each year, and that number is expected to grow by 2025. All of this plastic poses a threat to the majority of sea turtle, marine mammal and seabird species that call those oceans home, whether by ingestion or entanglement. Turning the tide of plastic consumption is a daunting task, but even small efforts, like purchasing less single-use plastics, can make a big difference.

Sea Jelly Sculpture created from plastic waste washed ashore on the beach at the Oregon Zoo. © Oregon Zoo / photo by Michael Durham

Washed Ashore will be on display at the Oregon Zoo until September. This exhibit is free with zoo admission, and provides an engaging, educational experience for adults and kids of all ages. Come view these spectacular sea creatures and discover the reality of the “deadliest ocean predator”—plastic pollution.

PDX Parent Staff

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