Preventing Debris with the Washed Ashore Project

Washed Ashore art project made with marine debris. (Photo credit: Washed Ashore Project)
Washed Ashore art project made with marine debris. (Photo credit: Washed Ashore Project)

Project Dates: August 2014 - January 2017

What’s the project?
Flip-flops, rubber shoes, tennis balls, fishing gear, basketballs, and the list can go on. These aren’t just items you can find at your local sporting goods store, they are items sometimes found at a beach near you – in the form of marine debris. Marine debris comes in many shapes and sizes, from small plastic pellets to large pieces of consumer debris. The Artula Institute for Arts and Environmental Education’s Washed Ashore Project takes these debris items and turns them into spectacular art sculptures that demonstrate ocean life.

The Washed Ashore Project has featured its sculptures at museums, zoos and aquariums across the country spreading the awareness about marine debris. The Create, Don’t Waste Project expanded on the organization’s marine debris awareness activities by creating an “Integrated Arts Marine Debris Curriculum”, leading teacher workshops at various exhibit sites, and by leading an experiential learning program for local students in Bandon, Oregon.

What does it accomplish?
With funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, students and teachers received a deeper understanding of the marine debris problem through the lens of art and science. Project participants learned how to be part of the solution through hands on activities such as beach cleanups, interactive lesson plans, and by creating and experiencing marine debris art sculptures.

Who’s involved?
In a national effort to raise marine debris awareness nationally, Washed Ashore Project partnered with Sea World Corporation, Brevard Zoo, the Smithsonian National Zoological Park and National Museum of Natural History, and Coos County Schools in Bandon, Oregon.

What is something unique about this project?
Washed Ashore incorporated visual art, theater, movement, and creative writing. These tools help convey powerful messaging and communications on the topic and engage students in a meaningful way, raising awareness about this issue.