31 MSP’s pledge to take action on plastic

31 MSP’s pledge to take action on plastic

31 MSPs pledged to take action on plastic pollution by signing at #CleanBeachesScotland exhibition & event at Holyrood in December 2017. I created the exhibition based on my recent  NEO Terra  installation shown in both Shetland & Ullapool, to illustrate to MSP’s the scale of coastal & marine plastic pollution in Scotland.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Of the MSPs who signed, 50% ticked all of the pledges demonstrating a personal commitment to backing measures to reduce the amount of plastic that contaminates our beaches and sea. 63% are keen to meet with Littoral Art Project to take a closer look at plastic pollution along their constituency shorelines. We will meet local beach cleaning groups (Marine Conservation Society MCS , Surfers Against Sewage SAS and  Harbourmasters to  learn more about specific beach litter issues in their constituency  and to enrol them in becoming Beach Champions.

Photographs by Alan McCredie

Joan McAlpine MSP joined me at Dunbar in her South Scotland constituency, to examine the particular litter issues concerning the Dunbar Harbour Trust as a multi-use Harbour and to take a sand sample from the regularly cleaned south beach.

#CleanBeachesScotland event. Scottish Parliament 13.12.18
#CleanBeachesScotland event. Scottish Parliament 13.12.18

The exhibition and event  received wonderful cross-party support from MSPs, including Graeme Day convener of the  Environment, Climate & Land Reform Committee with interesting conversations with many members of the committee. Environment spokesperson for the SL Claudia Beamish who attended the event, later commented in a Parliamentary Debate on the 20th December that  it was truly inspiring to see what art can do to support communities and others in their work on the issue”  Roseanna Cunningham responded in the debate that ‘……The work of the organisations that the member flagged up is incredibly important, and it needs to be backed up by Government and global action…….’

Thanks to Mark Ruskell, Environmental spokesperson for the Scottish Green Party, for his time to hear about Littoral Art Project’s findings and to talk through the value of LAP’s citizen science approach. He outlined his commitment to rigorous debate about plastic pollution and the connection to climate change legislation. I look forward to following up his links to Fife environment and arts education organisations.

I will also be contacting the other MSP’s interested in bringing the LAP to their constituencies ( Joan McAlpine in South Scotland, Rachael Hamilton in the Borders, Kate Forbes in Skye, Liam McArthur  and Jamie Halcro Johnston in Orkney ) and to explore the potential of this creative approach to engage their communities in tackling #MarinePlasticPollution  as in Shetland and Ullapool where people  joined me in collecting and examining beach samples.

The results of this interactive arts-cum science approach formed the  photographic evidence shared with MSPs and is available to share with councils and community groups.

5 NW SAND SAMPLEs panel

Following on from the success of the Holyrood exhibition, the Shetland Amenity Trust and I will be requesting a meeting with Scotland’s Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham. I intend to pass on the LAP research from 120 beaches and the findings of partner organisations, community groups and individuals that took part in the #CleanBeachesScotland event co-hosted by  MCS , with major contributers  KIMO, SAT, FIDRA, SAMS ).    I will be highlighting the extent of plastic pollution originating from the fishing and aquaculture industries, which often makes up to 90% of litter on Northern Scottish beaches and are often under mentioned . 

fishing rope on beach

We welcome the recent Scottish Government’s announcement to legislate against environmentally damaging items:

The positive response of so many MSPs during the #CleanBeachesScotland event and the Scottish Governments environmental announcements give hope to all those working to #BeatPollution in Scotland. These are great achievements that need to be actioned and broadened to include the fishing & aquaculture industry’s plastic pollution as soon as possible, so that Scotland can truly be seen to be leading the way internationally towards achieving a cleaner more sustainable environment.

MAIN HOLYROOD BEACH IMAGE smallest pic
Scotland’s beaches are beautiful – but increasingly contaminated with Plastic Pollution

Please follow up with your MSP e.g. suggest helping to bring the project to their constituency. If you/your organisation/group has evidence of plastic pollution on a stretch of the Scottish coastline please leave a comment below or email me so I can include it in the #CleanBeachScotland document that I will present to the Environment Minister.

Please follow the progress of the Littoral Art Project by pressing the blue FOLLOW button on the left and follow on twitter @LittoralArt

Help to support this research-art-action project to continue, develop and to reach more communities by making a donation. Press the orange DONATE button on the left. Thankyou

Julia has received Creative Scotland awards supported by The National Lottery for the original Littoral Art Project R&D and NEO Terra exhibition that led to this exhibition. The #CleanBeachesScotland exhibition was self-funded by the artist.

CS_Lottery_SB_bw

#CleanBeachesScotland Press Release

POST card HOLYROOD front image for MSP's

Event: 13th December 2017 The Scottish Parliament David Livingston Room

Julia Barton, in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society, will be hosting a #CleanBeachesScotland event at Holyrood to celebrate new and successful ways of tackling marine litter in Scotland and the next steps Scotland needs to take.

This collaborative Sci-Art event is open to MSPs, researchers and invited guests. The #CleanBeachesScotland Exhibition will be on show along with key information displays from:

  • SAMS – Scottish Association for Marine Science
  • SAT – Shetland Amenity Trust
  • FIDRA – Environmental Charity based in East Lothian
  • KIMO – Local Authorities International Environmental Organisation
  • MCS – Marine Conservation Society

Audience members include a wide range of experts – marine biologists, community engagement groups, harbour masters, waste management consultants, ecologists and environmental group representatives from across Scotland, who will be on hand to discuss the issues and explore how we can achieve #CleanBeachesScotland.

Calum Duncan, Head of Conservation Scotland for the Marine Conservation Society has said: ‘Public awareness and media profile of our seas and the threats they face has never been higher. This exciting and timely event will shed light on the dire impacts of marine litter on our beaches and marine wildlife, but will also celebrate some of the ways we’re tackling this problem, and galvanise support for the many actions still needed to clean up our seas.

Exhibition: 12th-14th December 2017 The Scottish Parliament Member’s Lobby.

Artist Julia Barton has been creatively investigating beach litter with coastal communities, for over 4 years. Thousands of hours spent on beaches has given her an utterly unique insight into the way plastic has become part of our environment, and this exhibition charts her extraordinary process of discovery. Julia’s novel way of widely engaging communities has recently been acknowledged with a 2017 Shetland Environmental Award for her Littoral Art Project work in the isles. It also prompted an invitation to Holyrood to inform MSPs of her observations at the shoreline from the micro to the macro point of view.

Julia will be presenting her Littoral Art Project exhibition to MSP’s for the first time in Holyrood. The #CleanBeachesScotland exhibition will showcase evidence collected from 120 Scottish beaches, highlighting just how much plastics have become part of the environment and the cost this represents to our society. An installation of collected plastics, based on Julia’s recent NEO Terra exhibition shown in both Shetland and the Highlands (link to review), will also inform the event.

Julia and her colleague Sita Goudie from the Shetland Amenity Trust’s Dunna Chuck Bruck Campaign will be sharing their knowledge of what works at a community level, as well as successful projects and initiatives for #CleanBeachesScotland. They will be asking MSPs to pledge action and support to reduce, recover and recycle waste within our economy rather than allow it to leach into the marine environment.

Next year Julia intends to create giant #LitterCUBES to display in harbours and streets, thereby confronting people with the volume of litter we are facing and the monetary loss to the economy that our plastic pollution represents.  If anyone would like to know more about this, please contact Julia: littoralartproject@btinternet.com.

Julia has received Creative Scotland awards supported by The National Lottery for the original Littoral Art Project R&D and NEO Terra exhibition  CS logo 1 copy

Notes to Editors:

ORGANISATIONS/PRESS : If you would like to join us for the #CleanBeachesScotland Event  on 13th December please get in touch ASAP: Julia Barton: 07977997605; littoralartproject@btinternet.com

NOTE: Due to security restrictions, you must confirm the name of the person(s) attending the event, by 1st December, to ensure they are on the guest list

Please note, due to security reasons, the exhibition is in an area only open to members.  However, the exhibition will be moved to the David Livingston room for the event, giving press and invited guests the chance to see it.

For more information of the artist’s work visit: www.littoralartproject.com

Current events and wider lobbying can be followed @LittoralArt

Comments from Julia’s recent exhibitions can be viewed at:  https://littoralartproject.com/neo-terra-exhibition-comments/

Further information on the Marine Conservation Society at: www.mcsuk.org/

Further information on the Shetland Amenity Trust: www.shetlandamenity.org/

Dunna Chuck Bruck Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Dunnachuckbruck/

 

HOPE 2017

I am very happy to be back based in Ullapool and to begin collecting beach samples from along the  Wester Ross coastline..rhue-beach-jan-17 Rhue Beach – todays collection location

Over the next month I will be collecting  samples ffrom 60 beaches for examination in the NEO Terra  exhibition taking place at An Talla Solais‘s Caledonian Gallery May 13th -June 18th.   I intend involving as many people as possible in the collection and will be encouraging discussions as to how to build  HOPE for the future. Shared ideas will be added to those collected and sketched out from Shetland residents on HOPE isle  below…..  hope-isle-3_li Please add your own ideas  into the comments box below of ‘how we can stop plastic leaking into the environment and  improve environmental sustainability’ I will add them  to the isle of HOPE.  My own HOPE is based  on the support and feedback I have received to the  Littoral Art Projects 2016 ‘s achievements recorded below :

         Littoral Art Project LEGEND 2016

                               Featured Image -- 3554  nt-beach-samples-cu nt-beach-sample-results                 Exhibition: NEO Terra, Shetland Museum      Oct-Nov

                     img_3940 commando-lands terra-nova-end-statement                        Animation: Terra NOVA,  Shetland Museum     Oct-Nov

               scalloway-evidence-bags  magnifying-voxter  whalsay-micro-plastics                                 Education Workshops: across Shetland            May-June

                             COPcube2  cairn  img_0912                                            Presentation: Edinburgh Humanities Network – Deep Time    April

                           29th MArch IM collecting PR's plastic rock reveal copy  PR's section 2                   Expedition: to Isle Martin        March

                 Studio 4 Studio 4 TS Studio 4 postit                               Residency: at An Talla Solais developing animation storyboard

             CS logo 1 copy                                    Awarded  Creative Scotland -Open Project Funding towards LAP                                         exhibition in  Shetland and Ullapool 2016-17

Making….

Making….

…. the process of making work for the exhibition has steadily been taking place over the last month in a series of places across the country.

Drawing and configuring island plans for my archipelago map and filming micro-plastics  at Wasps Studios in Edinburgh

Collecting & photographing litter items on the Firth of Forth beaches. The Guide to Beach Litter will be launched at an interactive educational event during the exhibition.

Modelling and photographing my toy commando in Borders 128 changes and shots were made to produce a short stop frame sequence for the exhibition animation.

Moldmaking and casting wax replicas of beach litter and the toy commando in the well equipped mixed media workshop at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop

Canvas dying experiments took place this week with friends at An Talla Solais in Ullapool. Scaling up the dying process revealed  difficulties in maintaining the consistent colour I want to achieve, an Ordanance Survey sea blue. Taking this liitation on board the canvas/map will now be made in a time honoured reliable way using paint

The final making stage  of this exhibition work will begin tomorrow when I arrive back in Shetland, where I will be delighted to take up my place as Artist in Residence at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse.

Post written while I wait to board the MVHrossey  from Orkney. Thanks to North Link Ferries support towards my passage.  The show opens on 8th October at Da Gadderie Lerwick Museum and Archives and runs until 12th November.

Searching…….

Searching…….

IMG_2606

….coastal geographical words, understanding of different polymers, appropriate materials, remaining animation shots to use in the making of my  exhibition  installation and for specifically for specialist support:

IMG_2616

 

a laboratory to carry out a chemical analysis of the different polymers fused together in the plastiglomerate samples that I have collected over the last year. The analysis will form a important part of the part of the installation

 

 

 

IMG_2614

 

promotional help, such as  contacts in news papers, journals, on line sites,  who would be intersted in telling the marine plastic issue from a new explorative visual angle using the Littoral Art Project story and exhibition

 

 

 

Any suggestions/comments/networking help for the exhibition would be much appreciated.         A press release with short summary of the project, exhibition information and schedule  can be found and copied from the Press Release page. Please forward this to any supportive organisations, journalists and colleagues/friends asking for editorial coverage/ help with promoting the exhibition. Neo-Terra: a burning marine issue  at Da Gadderie, Shetland Museum & Archive, Lerwick. Oct 8th-Nov 12th . Many thanks.


Footnote:  ‘inappropriate  resting place’ taken along the Forth estuary,  while completing the photogrphic illustrations for my Guide to Beach Litter.resting place

 

 

Shetland Notes 6: Birds

Tonight I take my leave of the Shetland Isles with Black Guillemot’s  diving in Garthspool harbour. Stepping onto the deck of the ferry I am able begin to unravel what I have learnt from my extraordinary Shetland expedition.Almost 8 weeks criss-crossing the Isles, examining beaches, collecting Plastiglomerate, filming  animation footage and leading workshops with pupils with 14 schools. On this journey my constant yet ever changing companions have been the wonderful bird life that fills the skies and extensive coastline.

             Drawings above of a Common Gull, Raven and Skua (Bronxie) by Urafirth School Pupils

As the ferry swiftly leaves the dock and makes its passage through the Bressay Sound Arctic Terns dart across the prow of the boat and Fulmars fly down skimming  the seas surface dipping to pick up food.

IMG_1882Steaming down the east coast of the isles I focus hard on the shoreline through the mist trying to recognise some of the beaches I have collected Plastiglomerates from and lead litter investigations on with pupils from 14 schools over the last 7  weeks. The first beaches I spot are effectively the small town beaches (less thean 50m long)  there are many of them tucked in between buildings with a  small tidal range.

We soon pass by the Voxter beaches of stone and shingle then Hoswick  beach were we examined the beaches with local Sandwick School pupils, collected micro-plastics from the beach and considered the disturbing images (below) taken by a scientist Jan Andries van Franeker who carried out an autopsy on a Fulmar found locally on Shetlands south mainland.

130611-IMG_8518-Dove-Lab-SHE-2013-004-stomach-v2  Shetland-HD-Franeker-G00637

The dead Fulmar had over 9oo polystyrene beads plus small pieces of plastic and nurdles. Fulmars  feed on the surface of the sea and understandably mistake the polystyrene and plastic pellets/pieces for fish eggs. The result of eating so many piece of plastic is starvation as the bird thinks its full. Fulmars also feed the plastic to the chicks. The extreme dangers of micro plastics to bird life was central to our Close Examination workshops and was carefully explained by my workshop colleague Jane Outram the environmental officer of the Shetland Amentity & Guide at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse (bird observatory). Jane has been a great bird knowledge and has been an invaluable project colleague  who has helped me to facilitate the workshops and help me  differentiate  the numerous type of  waders, gulls and .

IMG_1886

We have both been delighted and impressed by the children’s knowledge of birds while delivering the educational workshops. The Urafirth Primary Schools beautiful  illustrations used here are taken from the schools notice board which names the birds seen around their school and points out the dangers that face specific birds  like the Shag below,  from beach and marine plastic litter.

IMG_1888 (2)

Shetlanders are rightly proud of the vast aray and number  of bird and  wildlife that lives and visits the islands throughout the year. I have delighted in being able to witness this at close hand  as I criss-crossed the islands visiting beaches and schools. I have caught sight of otters cruising along the Grathspool harbour wall (Lerwick) at sunset and Red-throated Divers diving in the afternoon sunlight on Voes out west.

As MV Hrossey ploughs through the North Sea I try in vain to photograph a lone Gannet gliding  fast across the wake of the ship which is broken up by the fresh north easterly.

sea wake

As we pass by  Sumbrugh Head cloaked in cloud after  weeks of continual sunlight. I reflect on the fascinating natural beauty of Shetland and the dangers that wildlife and Birds are facing here and around the world given the increasing volume of plastics in the oceans and on the beaches.

Birdlife: (top) melted plastic rope,  (LHS) Guillemot egg on Yell,  (RHS) waders eggs increasingly exposed as nests change from muted brown to brightly  coloured

With such images in mind  I leave with an even greater determination to make work that envisages this environmental problem  in new and dramatic ways and  to stimulate  discussion and the need to act /change behaviours. I look forward to returning in September to install my work at Da Gadderie  Shetland Museum and Archives

Thanks to Creative Scotland for funding towards my animation and exhibition development work and thanks to Awards for All  and Zero Waste Scotland for funding for the educational workshops and to North Link Ferries  for help towards my travel.

CS logo 1 copy

Shetland Notes 5: Collecting

Shetland Notes 5: Collecting

As my expedition to Shetland enters its last few weeks I am travelling to as many beaches and foreshores that I can to examine the littoral zones and to collect Plastiglomerates.

IMG_1940

This morning I picked my way carefully along the tideline of Channer wick beach a steep pebble beach on the eastern side of Shetlands mainland keeping an eye out for waders nests and watching the Fulmar chicks fledging out of burrows set in the bank of the back beach while I myself was being in turn watched by three common seals basking close in to the shore line. Facing southeast this beach is cleaner than most beaches around the  Shetland/World though plastic litter is there  knitted into the raised  back beach landscape

My main aim is to collect up as amny of the Plastiglomerates I can find, so far I have found them on nearly every beach I have surveyed, even on the beautiful world renowned St Ninians (tabola), where they tend to be small fragments collecting usually at the south west corner of the beach.

My notes help me keep track of my finds, the type of beach, aspect amount of easily visible litter and the amount of  what I collect.

The numbers of sacks are a  crude summary of the amount of litter that each beach is subject to and the prevailing  tidal  flows and whether the  tidal flows are able to wash  the litter out to sea once it’s there or whether the landforms entraps the litter like at beaches such as Burrick (above left) where so far we have collected 6 sacks,  or at  Meal where I lifted several large slabs off the rocks,  or at Mangaster (below) and Mavis Grind  where the the Hightide lines are almost as deeply littered as at Burick.

IMG_1695 (2)

Mavis Grind is a significant point in Shetlands Geo Park  being a narrow isthmus between the Atlantic and the North Sea where boats were hauled traditionally from one side to other to avoid the long row around.  On my journey north today I intend revisiting Mavis Grind to try and understand  more clearly the significance of the landforms (Taings : tonues of land ) that entrap what the Atalantic and passers by leave. Connectivity permitting I will share my findings.

IMG_1694 (4)

Alongside collecting the Plastiglomerates  usually within the high tide zone, I have been taking small samples of sand/seaweed from the splash zones that evidently contain micro-plastics.  This week I will ask Higher school pupils on Whalsey Island to examine and compare samples taken from their own shorelines with those I have taken from around the Shetland Mainland.   I look forward to their observations creative interpretations and  wonderfully visiting another one of Shetlands 100+ Islands.

Shetland Notes 4: Learning

A big aim of mine is to inspire young people to creatively tackle the massive environmental issue of plastic pollution in our marine and coastal environments.

Pupils in Shetland each year take part in the great Da Voar Redd Up spring litter pick and so know only too well the size of the problem and how much effort it takes to collect and carry hundreds of bags of litter from remote beaches.  Last week 70 Scalloway primary pupils cleaned Burick Beach a mile west of the school they collected 363 bags of bruck (rubbish) off the beach approximately 100m long.

IMG_1720 (2)

Jane Outram (environmental officer for the Shetland Amenity Trust) & myself have now begun to deliver three educational workshops across Shetland. Each workshop begins with an observational session on a beach near to the school. The outside learning element of the day long workshops fitting well with many of the schools, as writ on the wall at Nesting Primary School

learning words (2)

We are criss-crossing the isles to deliver 3 different workshops devised for different ages across the Primary and Higher School years with the aim of looking at how we can tackle the litter before it arrives on our beaches, so Shetland’s  children’s children won’t have to collect hundreds of bags of rubbish each year.

school workshop locations (2)

We have had an amazing response over 14 schools will be taking part, including the outer isles. Pupils taking part will also complete a questionnaire developed and written by researchers Lynette Robertson, Agnes Patuano and Reyhaneh Mozaffar so we can assess the benefit of our creative approach to investigating  beach litter and how we can help to reduce plastics in the environment. So far we have delivered a training session to members of Shetland Environmental Education Partnerships (ShEEP) an environmental project which will continue to help schools deliver the workshops on in future years.

LAP Edu Pack 2   LAP Edu Pack 3

Our first ‘Close Examination’ into the micro plastics of our beaches was carried out by lower high pupils of Aith School, who after taking a selection of particle samples from their local beach, used simple separation techniques to discover the variety of forms that plastic particles take. Using electronic magnification identification of the types and possible sources of the particles was discussed.

IMG_1519 (3)

Using projected images of  drawings of sand hoppers, the smallest organisms known to ingestion micro fibres, we began to experiment with ways of visually making the links between the ingestion of  micro plastics by marine organisms, the related hazards particularly to birds and mammals. The pupils and biology and art teachers now plan to explore this connection further through graphics.  I look forward to seeing the work!

Year 7 pupils enthusiastically took up the roles of a Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) team, on the western end of Burick Beach to collect evidence to carry out a ‘Return to Sender’ workshop. Back in the art room our team eagerly and thoroughlyscrutinised their evidence to build up a detailed product profile.

DSCF9913   DSCF9923   DSCF9919 evidence board

Each Crime Scene Investigation team set about interrogating the litter items to learnas much as possible about the type of material it was made from,who manufacturered the product, the retailer involved, plus  recycling symbols and anti-littering information etc.

IMG_1598

With this information pupils are now composing highly visual letters, FaceBook messages and Tweets to be sent shortly to manufacturers/retailers to ask for their help in reducing packaging, encouraging recycling and investing in  research into biodegradable products to help them keep their beach free of their products. Follow the blog to see their work and manufacturers responses

A cross age group of Outer Isle School pupils from Foula, Fetlar, the Skerries and Fair Isle visiting mainland Shetland searched for ‘Future Fossils’ amongst the Voxter shoreline stones. The children took part in 2 full sessions collecting and examining rock samples,  and then excitedly broke open the fossil pebbles to reveal a variety of common objects found on shorelines all around Shetland.

observation drawing rocks & FF Voxter magnifying  Voxter timeline Voxter

Later they took time to carefully work out how long litter items such as plastic bottle tops, gun wads, balloons and ropes might last into the future and considered this in context of the time line of the world, Shetlands geology and their own existence having put their names and birth dates onto the line.  A powerful days learning outside, together. I look forward to meeting all of these children in the interactive laboratory that I am designing for the exhibition at Da Gadderie.

Special interactive school event at the museum on Thursday 27th October

Many thanks to Awards for All , Zero Waste Scotland and North Link Ferries for enabling this educational part of the project to  be devised and facilitated .

Shetland Notes 3: Tracking

  100th arrival of Statsraad Lehmkuhl at Lerwick Harbour

This week I have been fortunate to witness the arrival and departure of numerous yachts from all around the world tied up to the pier and pontoon in Lerwick old harbour. On Thursday the Harbour Authority gave a special welcome to The  Stratsraad Lehmkuhl  the 1914 barque rigged training ship on its 100th arrival, it was accompanied by 16 smaller tall ships and yachts all of which tied up for the night. This event and the the daily arrivals of cargo ships, trawlers, ferries and regular crusie liners from across the world served to remind me of Shetlands global connectivity at 60 degrees North.

Yesterday I was introduced to the wonders of online vessel tracking software  www.vesseltracker   and  http://www.aquatera.co.uk/ShetlandShipping.asp  . I am now happily learning to identify the boats in harbour, anchored out in the channels and disappearing on the horizons and  find out where they are from and going to.

My wish is that we could track the litter  as efficiently, so we could see where it enters the oceans and who is responsible locally & globally. Once our litter enters the tidal flows it’s on a journey that will last as long as the material. Gun wads  (the plastic containers that hold the shot in a gun cartridg) is a case in point found all around Scotland. But the origin can be from near or far depending where you are. For instance on the west coast of the Highlands it is generally recognised that the gun wads littering the beaches are predominantly from local shoots, the wads being washed into the burns and into the sea.

On Shetland where almost no shooting takes place it is thought that the gun wads may be from the east coast of USA and Canada where  seal culls take place every year, the Atlantic tidal currents regularly bring hundreds of identifiable US plastic Fish box tags to the same beaches where the gun wads are picked up. The wads could also be from seal culls taking place much nearer, Iceland, Norway and Finland all have annual shoots. closer perhaps mainland Scotland (deer and claypigeon shoots)l large numbers of seals

our contribrition to the ocean conveyor belt

The wads could also be from seal culls taking place much nearer, Iceland, Norway and Finland all have annual shoots some could also arrive from the Scottish mainland (deer and clay pigeon shoots) large numbers of seals, Gun wads are made of HDPE one of the slowest biodegrading plastics it is estimated upwards from 400years.

Gun wads are made of HDPE one of the slowest biodegrading plastics it is estimated upwards from 400years possibly a thousand. The threat to marine life is well established and easy to understand when looking at the underwater litter line shots of the gun-wads taken off Isle Martin which visually shows how marine mammals can easily mistake the wads for squid.

White-sided Dolpins. Photo by Mark Burges http://www.shetlandnature.net

What we drop matters wherever we are. Recent  Bruck (litter) washed up onto Shetland shores includes a MacDonalds balloon (nearest stores Bergan and Aberdeen) and what we have dropped across Shetland this week will no doubt will be on its journey to an isle nearby or far away on the next high tide tonight. Heres hoping the annual Redd Up litter clean up has picked up all the gun wads off !

 

 

Shetland Notes 1: Docked

IMG_1280Firmly docked in Shetland I am now happily tied up with the Littoral Art Project for the next 2 months.   Many  Many thanks to North Link Ferries for their support and a smooth crossing on MV Hrossey.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1269

Greeted by a wintery day – I am glad to be back and  to begin making an animation film with JJ Jamieson and to lead educational workshops in partnership with Shetland Amenity Trust to schools and organisations across the islands. We will be investigating the longevity of plastic and ways to creatively help to reduce the waste that’s picked up off beaches every year. This week is the annual Da Voar Redd Up the UK’s biggest spring clean up, the beach clean event that I took part in last year with Scalloway  School

Burwick beach WS before DSCF9507 IMG_1293

On route to spend my first few nights on the West side of the mainland I stop to check out a beautiful beach Sand Sound, perfectly named.  On arriving I see the Redd Up bags mounded up with random objects on top car bumper with nets thrown over and meet nearby resident Mike Barnett collecting litter along the beach. Like thousand’s of other Redd Up volunteers this week he has been well at work picking up and bagging every type of beach litter.   You can see the great work that community members have achieved if you go to the Dunna Chuck Bruck   As Mike bows down picking up pieces of cord and rope in the  wind, he voices what many  volunteers over the past 4 years have said to me about litter picking ‘It becomes so addictive , especially when you know if you leave a piece by next year it will be broken down into 4 pieces then the next 8 pieces …..and on’

IMG_1302

This is a common addiction I sharealong with most beach cleaners i.e. the compulsion to keep going, picking up piece after piece even when you’re tired and its freezing cold and snowing like today! The compulsion is that the more you pick up the cleaner you leave it, which is of course true BUT sadly we know only too well it’s only a temporary fix.  The gratifying ‘high’ only lasts until the next spring tides

My aim in creating this project and travelling to communities on the frontline of the issue is to inspire us to find ways to reduce the waste in the system and to be more sustainable which inturn allows us to negate the need for this addiction.

Keep tabs on the Littoral story  by clicking  the follow button on this page and confirm with Word Press when prompted. Please pass the link on to as many people as possible and if in Shetland get in touch if you find any plastic rocks ‘Plastiglomerates’ like the ones below  as I am collecting them to use in my work and am happy to pick them up.

IMG_4456  Plastic Rock  Burn beach melted rope plastic rock reveal copy

In the meantime well done to everyone who has/is taking part in the Redd Up here in Shetland and all spring MCS Beach Clean events  around the UK !