When I lived in Townsville, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority got me to do a set of pictures for a children's educational display about pollution and ocean health. It outlined the consequences of mass-produced convenience and single-use plastics, gave stats on animal injury and death, looked at plastic's entry into the food chain, and urged a more thoughtful approach to consumption - basic Reduce, Reuse, Recycle stuff. At the time it really did seem like we were going to turn a corner - the problem was well known, and there was much talk of making amends. I remember being quite hopeful that the industrial-scale geyser of "disposable" plastic garbage was about to begin scaling down. The concepts were clear - the kids at GBRMPA's Reef Wonderland grasped them easily.
It's been 25 years since I did the reef picture job. On land, in the air, in rivers, and at sea, plastic pollution is now a gigantic, poisonous disaster. Massive action needs to be taken to tackle it, both here and internationally... yet here we are, still pretending that a small, easy step - BYO Bag - is "big and difficult". "Quite hopeful" is no longer how I would describe myself.
Here's one of the pictures from the kid's display all those years ago - a reminder of how little distance we've come.
|Plastic ocean - airbrush and paintbrush, acrylic on foamcore.|