Sometimes the best way we can bring attention to a conservation issue, like the proliferation of plastic trash in the environment, is to use our talents to create art. Take, for example, “Ethyl,” short for polyethylene, which is a life-sized, 82-foot-long Blue Whale sculpture made of waste plastic. Polyethylene is a #2 type of stiff plastic known as HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene), which is one of the most commonly used forms of plastic. Ethyl was originally commissioned for the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, and made by artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova. At 300,000 pounds, it is the true weight of a Blue Whale, which is also the amount of plastic that goes into the ocean every nine minutes. This sobering statistic gives art appreciators pause, realizing just how much of a role each of us plays in contributing to plastic waste—and inspiring us to turn this devastating situation around. The reality is awful—in March 2019, for example, a 15-foot-long dead whale was found in the Philippines with 88 pounds of plastic trash inside its body. The plastic in its stomach would have made it feel full, as it can with birds which ingest plastic, so this whale likely starved to death. Find a way to contribute your creative talents to wake people up about their responsibility to address plastic pollution. The power of art to impact people’s emotions, educate them, and help change their behavior shouldn’t be underestimated!

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