BANDON, Ore. — Eye opening–it’s one way to describe a small exhibit at Valley River Center in Eugene this weekend.
And it’s just a sliver of a bigger display on the south Oregon Coast telling the story of how plastic is destroying our oceans.
Bandon is known for its beautiful beaches. They are one of the many reasons people live there and one of the many reasons people visit.
And just like the waves, people come back again and again.
But inside a small building in Old Town, something critical to those beaches and others around the world is taking shape, and the world is taking notice.
“When I got this idea, I knew it was a global project,” said Angela Haseltine Pozzi.
Angela is using art, to raise awareness and create conversation about what’s washing up on those beaches.
“We have processed over ten tons of garbage from just the southern Oregon Coast into about 24 sculptures,” she said.
Two huge jellyfish made from plastic bottles, a sea horse with sand shovels for a mane, a sea lion made of soles of shoes, and a star fish–that’s interactive. It’s stirring up conversation and creativity.
Angela’s the conceptual designer of the sculptures. A teacher for 30 years, she says this is what she was meant to do.
In three short years, her idea to spread awareness through art has grown into the nonprofit call Washed Ashore. And indeed they are making a difference.
If you stroll Bandon’s beaches, you’ll realize this community cares and works together picking up what’s washed up, and they’re mostly free of debris.
“But, there is so much more out there, and no matter what you pick up one day, there is going to be more the next day,” Angela said.
It’s estimated there is 11 million tons of garbage in the North Pacific alone. Collecting it once it reaches shore is not the solution.
“The real difference that has to be made is people stop using plastic for everything and single-use plastics because that’s the stuff that stays around forever,” Angela said.
Where many practice “reduce, reuse, recycle” at Washed Ashore, they preach “reduce, reuse, refuse, recycle.”
“We created this thing that’s durable and lasts forever…And that’s the problem, it’s durable and lasts forever, and now it’s filling up our whole world,” Angela said.
One of Angela’s favorite quotes comes from Margaret Mead, a pioneer in anthropology: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Angela and her small thoughtful, committed team are no doubt, changing the world using bottles, flip-flops, sculptures, and Bandon’s beautiful beaches to spread awareness about what’s about to wash ashore on the worlds beaches.
The efforts by those at Washed Ashore are paying off. Monday on KEZI 9 News at 6:30 p.m., we’ll show you how their message is spreading worldwide with the help of a huge new partner. Plus, kids are helping put those sculptures, and you can too.
In the meantime, now through Sunday, a sea life sculpture from Washed Ashore is on display at Valley River Center in Eugene. You can find it at Center Court.