On April 21, the “Art for the Ocean'' event showcased digital and physical pieces of artwork created with and focusing on plastics. Students could peruse the artwork at Hough Quad, asking the creators about their pieces and voting on their favorite one.
Run by student clubs FL Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and Turning the Tide, the goal of the event was to convey how many plastics, especially single-use plastics, are used and thrown away in daily life. FL PIRG, a nonpartisan student advocacy group, partnered with Turning the Tide as they work toward making environmental impacts through art. Junior Kylie Andersen, an intern for FL PIRG’s Planet Over Plastics campaign, organized the event.
“I felt like allowing students to be creative is really productive in giving the message that plastics are bad for the environment,” Andersen said.
Five pieces were displayed, using a variety of mediums but all focused on drawing attention to the amount of plastic waste in the environment. There was also a video showcased, created by first-year student Kaitlyn Copland, that highlighted the successes of the Planet Over Plastics campaign.
The four physical pieces presented were made up mostly of plastic waste gathered by students. First-year Cam Carvajales created a wearable piece out of plastics in the shape of a jellyfish.
“The plastic bags are from my [dorm] building,” Carvajales said. “It’s very crazy when you realize this is how much plastic I got from like three people, but you could make an entire jellyfish out of it.”
First-year Tezzerah McLean created a functional piece, meant to be both a brush holder and brush cleaner. They created it by repurposing plastic items in their own home.
“The main reason why I made this piece was to really bring more eco-friendly and reusable materials to the art world since, a lot of times, it’s a lot of single-use plastic and is more destructive towards the environment,” McLean said.
Though former President Donald Eastman signed a pledge in 2019 to ban Eckerd funds from being used to purchase unnecessary single-use plastics, this promise has been put on hold due to the pandemic. Bon Appetit, Eckerd’s food vendor, has created new protocols instructing the cafe and pub to use single-use takeaway containers, and Starbucks not to fill student’s reusable cups. Andersen hopes that once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, Eckerd can discontinue the use of single-use plastics.
“It would make our campus the green campus that we strive to be,” Andersen said.
Cam Carvajales’ plastic jellyfish was deemed the winner of the contest after a campus-wide vote concluded on April 23.