On Fri., April 10 a 32-foot gray whale constructed of 9,000 plastic bags and other plastic waste arrived on the Shoreline campus where it will be housed in the PUB lobby until April 30 as part of the campus-wide Earth Week celebration.Earth Week events and more Information
The project is the brainchild of local artist and Solid Waste educator Carrie Ziegler, who designed the art piece to teach youth participants and the community at large about how plastic waste affects the environment.
Ziegler was inspired to design the project when, in 2010, scientists found over 30 plastic bags and other debris in the stomach of a gray whale that washed ashore in Seattle. Ziegler hopes the whale will inspire people to take action to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic bags.
Since it’s debut at the 2013 Procession of the Species Celebration in Olympia, the whale has been on display at various institutions around Puget Sound. Shoreline was lucky enough to secure the project for display during Earth Week, a celebration with myriad campus-wide activities aimed at raising awareness of the toll human activity can take on our environment.
Robert Hayden, Shoreline’s Earth Week advisor, said “We are extremely excited to house this admirable project during the month of April. Sustainability is one of the bottom line values of Shoreline, and this project will help raise awareness of and further that value.”
Construction of the whale was a collaborative art project between Thurston County Solid Waste, the Procession of the Species, the YMCA’s after school programs, Cascadia Research Collective and several Thurston County schools. Over 800 kindergarten through twelfth-grade students helped create the whale from plastic bags and other plastic trash.
Participants in the project braided 9,000 plastic bags into ropes to make up the whale’s left side. The right side of the whale displays a skeleton including ribs, spine and skull made of plastic debris and Styrofoam collected from local schools and the community.
According to the Center for Marine Conservation, plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups. The Center also states that plastic waste outweighs surface zooplankton in the central North Pacific by a factor of 6 to 1.
Recology CleanScapes facilitated the whale’s migration to Shoreline after acquiring the whale from Thurston County this past fall.
Recology CleanScapes has collected recycling and garbage at Shoreline Community College since becoming Shoreline’s solid waste hauler in 2008.
Elliott Okantey, Waste Zero Specialist at Recology CleanScapes, said “Displaying the Plastic Whale Project is an exciting opportunity to support the College’s Earth Week 2015 programming, and to promote sustainability and environmental stewardship in Shoreline and beyond.”