I had the pleasure of going to the Shedd Aquarium yesterday with Commissioner Steele, Commissioner Shore, Commissioner Durkan, and a few other MWRD employees for a tour of the new Washed Ashore exhibit. This exhibit "builds ... aesthetically powerful art to educate a global audience about plastic pollution in oceans and waterways and spark positive changes in consumer habits." There are six installations made entirely from plastic found on the shores of the Oregon Coast, and each installation represents an animal that lives in or near water, like fish, sea horses, starfish, and beavers.
Plastic pollution in waterways is a growing problem,
and not just in the oceans. In fact, 22 million pounds
of plastic enter the Great Lakes systems every year. Everything from water bottle caps to flip flops to micro-beads enter and pollute our water ways. It harms aquatic life and has been found in our tap water, with the US having the highest contamination rate, at 94%. This number comes from tap water sampled for plastic fibers at sites including Congress buildings, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters, and Trump Tower in New York.
Bringing in Washed Ashore isn't the only initiative that the the Shedd Aquarium has taken. This past Earth Day, the Shedd launched a campaign called Shedd the Straw to challenge the Chicago community to think twice before using a straw so that it doesn't enter water ways. The Shedd Aquarium has even partnered with restaurants so that they no longer offer straws entirely or offer biodegradable straws, since classic straws are virtually impossible to recycle.
Go check out the Washed Ashore exhibit and don't forget: Every piece of plastic was once purchased by someone, discarded, became
waterborne, and landed on a beach where
someone else picked it up and made a difference.
Please remember every action counts!