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One man’s waste is another man’s artwork

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We’re all familiar with these three R’s helping us consider other options before throwing something away. A few people have taken the Reuse portion of the waste mantra a step further and are creating some stunning pieces of art…

Beach Art

If you’ve been to the beach this summer, chances are you’ve come home with sand in mysterious places, walking down the shoreline you probably saw seaweed, pebbles and perhaps some feathers. In addition to these natural items, you might also have spotted pieces of plastic, metal and other assorted materials. Washed Ashore in America are using those bits and bobs to build art pieces to educate people about plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways. The sculptures are then exhibited at zoos, aquariums and other popular attractions across the country. JK Brown, an artist living in Wales, collects fragments of metal that have been fly-tipped or washed up on beaches to reassemble into monuments to the natural world. Her sculptures include a kingfisher, two holly blue butterflies and a magpie. Waste washed up on beaches is something we’re all aware of. The majority of us will take our litter home with us, leaving the beach as we found it.

One man’s waste is another man’s artwork

JK Browns butterflies made of scrap metal

How you can help

A lot of what is washed up is cast offs from boats or containers that have fallen off container ships in storms.  The two-minute beach clean aims to help tackle these items that are washing up on our shores. The idea is that you spend 2 minutes picking up any piece of litter that you can find and t the collective effort adds up to create a much cleaner beach. Each piece of plastic removed from the marine environment is no longer a danger to the animals that live there.

Why is it important?

Fishing nets and ropes can entangle all sorts of creatures including seals, birds and fish, resulting in a slow death.
Plastic doesn’t biodegrade. There’s been a lot in the news recently about microbeads that appear in our cosmetic products. As plastic breaks down in the sea, it gets smaller and smaller, taking thousands of years to degrade in a similar way to the microbeads. These pieces are then eaten by wildlife.

Plastic Bags

Another artist, Nazrinka Musayeva, is creating street art from plastic bags to encourage people to recycle. The majority of items we buy are put into polyethylene bags which go straight in the bin. Reusing each bag you are given once automatically halves the amount bags you use.

One man’s waste is another man’s artwork

Nazrinka Musayeva's street art made from plastic bags

How you can help

In England, a plastic bag charge came into place in October 2015. Since then, there has been an 80% reduction in the use of single-use plastic bags in supermarkets.  The charges from the plastic bags aren’t a tax, the money doesn’t go straight to the government and many businesses are choosing to donate it. Over £29.9 million was donated to charitable causes.

Watch your waste

Finally, Susan Beatrice, is an artist who recycles vintage watch parts, turning them into intricate sculptures. The sculptures include rabbits, dragons and other creatures.  Her pieces show just what can be done with those unwanted cogs, wheels and assorted pieces of metal lying at the back of a drawer.

One man’s waste is another man’s artwork

Susan Beatrice's Steam Punk Bunny

Emily Morrey-McGrath


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