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Saving our oceans one plastic bag at a time

Customs House Sydney - 4th October 2018. Installation photographs of Wasteland. Art and About Sydney have commissioned Sydney-based creative studio Mundane Matters to produce the thought-provoking artwork Wasteland.

Saving our oceans one plastic bag at a time

Saving our oceans one plastic bag at a time

A new artwork constructed from marine debris reminds us of the cost of human consumption.

Everywhere we look the environment is in crisis. Iconic species are endangered or threatened. Land clearing and habitat construction is at record levels.

It’s a similar story at sea. Our oceans are choking with plastic: including the single-use plastic bags that shoppers take for granted. The situation is so dire that we now have the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating trash vortex of the world’s marine debris that is bigger than Texas.

A new art installation, Wasteland, aims to draw attention to the crisis in our oceans – as well as offer a message of hope and social change.

Produced by creative studio Mundane Matters, Wasteland comprises 2,255 orange spheres made from 120 kilograms of ocean debris from the Great Barrier Reef: everything from plastic bottle lids, bottle necks, broken chairs and micro-plastics, all harmful to marine life.

The result is now hanging from the ceiling of Sydney’s Customs House in a powerful call-to-action for the world to reduce its plastic pollution and food waste.
Mundane Matters creative director Danling Xiao says she was moved to create the installation after learning of the success of a conservation experiment in Costa Rica, where 12,000 tonnes of orange peels were dumped on a desolate site, resulting in a thriving forest two decades later.

 “I thought this was an incredible example of how items we waste can transform our environment positively,” Xiao says. “I wanted to recreate this by recycling ocean plastic, which is now one of the biggest environmental problems in the world.”

Mundane Matters sourced the material for the project in collaboration with Eco Barge, an organisation that recovers ocean plastic near the Great Barrier Reef, collecting more than 180,000kg over the past nine years and saving more than 80 turtles.

Part of the annual Art & About Sydney program, Wasteland now stands as a statement about how human consumption impacts the environment. It is a sober reminder to follow the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Commenting on the work, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, says that “art provides a powerful platform to draw attention to the crisis caused by plastic choking our oceans”.

 “I am sure Wasteland will inspire many to think about the devastating impact that plastic has on our environment and encourage them to find practical ways of reducing their own impact.”

Wasteland is exhibited at Customs House, 31 Alfred Street, Sydney, until October 28.

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