Ocean plastics find new life as Jenga, Barbies, skateboards and more

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At least once a week, Tess Felix goes to a beach near San Francisco to buy art supplies. The artist fills her shopping bags with Barbie doll shoes, pens, toothpick dental floss, sand shovels, toy cars and other trash washed up on the shore. Once at home, she sorts the items by color. Then she begins to assemble ocean plastic portraitsusing a white fork for an arm, a cream-colored comb for the hair, and a beige dinosaur for a shoulder.

“I love creating beauty out of this horrible, useless material,” Felix said from her California studio, which she described as a “garbage pit.”

Felix is ​​part of a group of artists, conservationists and makers who are finding a second purpose in ocean plastics, which kill more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year, according to the United Nations. United Nations for education, science and culture. Artwork and products, which don’t smell like fish or look like the contents of your recycling bin, are important to the ocean conservation movement: they remove or deter litter from our waterways and raise awareness of the problem.

“We’ve created a mess and we need to clean it up,” said Matt Dwyer, vice president of product innovation and impact at Patagonia, which uses recycled fishing nets in its NetPlus clothing line. “We try not to leave the bad stuff in the oceans.”

Removing plastic is the best way to protect our oceans. But kids can also help the cause by playing with or wearing items made from ocean plastics, such as Bureo’s Minnow skateboard, 4ocean wristbands, Upcycle Hawaii earrings and visors, shorts and Patagonia’s trucker jackets.

Unfortunately, many ocean plastics cannot be made into everyday objects. The debris is either too small or too deteriorated to be made into pellets or fabrics that companies use as raw material. As an alternative, many companies collect the waste before it hits the water. This category of recyclable materials is called ocean related plastics. By definition, the waste must be within 31 miles of shore and in an area that lacks a good waste management system. The Ocean Recovery Groupfor example, collecting plastics from the ocean in the Dominican Republic, an island nation in the Caribbean.

A year ago, Mattel launched its first range of plastic toys from the oceans of Mexico: the Barbie loves the ocean collection, which includes three dolls, a Beach Shack playset and accessories. Last month, the toymaker added another action figure made from recycled plastic, the Jane Goodall Inspiring Women Dollwhich celebrates the legendary chimpanzee researcher and conservationist.

Since 2013, Desk prevented more than 7.2 million pounds of abandoned fishing nets from entering the marine environment. The company recovers old gear from fishermen in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico and California. “Some of them are the length of a football field,” said Greg Swienton, the company’s marketing manager.

Once the fillets have been cut, washed, pulped and shaped into pellets, they are ready to start their new lives – as sunglasses frames, Jenga game pieces, surfboard fins and bicycle bottle holders. . Bureo also uses the reused nets in its flying discs. The design of the Fishnet Flyer illustrates the journey of nets that begins, but does not end, in the ocean.

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