A flourishing ecosystem of corals and marine life under the sea. The beauty before the toxic plastic storm.
Above is a collection of leaflets and business cards (amongst my own illustrations on plastic pollution), that I have collected promoting sustainable oceans and anti-plastic campaigns. There is SO much that you can do to actively get involved and work with the community to help save our oceans. You can volunteer to pick up litter along your local beach, hand-out leaflets and posters, help raise money and awareness, or become a voice for organisations and the community. Alternatively, you can just keep updated on what these amazing organisations are doing from the comfort of your home! Any help goes a long way.
Below I have attached links to all of these organisation/volunteering pages. If you want to sign up or be involved in any way, just click on the links...
Marine Conservation Society
&Keep- (eco-friendly food packaging)
Plastics to avoid:
There are many ways in which we can educate ourselves and become aware of the damage that we are doing to the planet. Through watching documentaries, reading information, and submersing ourselves in nature, we can become emotionally invested and actually see the changes that are happening around us- please remove the blinkers!
In the photograph above you'll see a very random collection of items on my kitchen table! This was the result of a morning rushing around my flat like a mad woman, collecting all of the plastic products that I could find in draws and cupboards- all of the items above are not recyclable! If you think, this is only a small fraction of the plastics that I have in my home, and times that by the 7.6 billions people that live on this earth, that is an awful lot of un-recyclable goods that end up in rivers, streams, beaches, not forgetting the hundreds of crates that fall off the back of barges during transit!
The two main causes of coral bleaching, poisoned marine life, acidic oceans, death of coastal land animals (such as seabirds), and the manmade chemicals present within seafood (potentially causing respiratory problems, infertility and the growth of cancerous cells within humans), are:
1) Single use plastics- these are plastics that cannot be recycled and do not biodegrade, such as plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic cutlery, and plastic bottles.
2) Microplastics- These are tiny, often microscopic, particles of plastic that have been broken off bigger pieces of plastic over time, these wear down to such a fine grain that we would struggle to see them.
Plastic does not just disappear when you put it in the bin- it lives forever! Even products that contain smaller amounts of plastic, such tea bags and wet wipes, take years and years to even begin to break down.
Note: Even products that you think are recyclable, such as cardboard packaging, wrapping paper, tea sachets, coffee pods- are often mixed with other materials and foils that prevent them from being recycled! Be aware when you buy toiletries, makeup products, wrapping paper, cards, and all sort of packaging, some materials cannot be separated. Don't be tricked into thinking that is recyclable- always check the back!
Next I collected plastic and alternative products that are longer lasting, more sustainable, and can be recycled...
Tips for being more sustainable:
1) Make-up and toiletries: Buy toiletries that have the recycling symbol on the back! Garnier are a great brand for promoting an eco-friendly mindset. On the back of my cleanser it says "Garnier commits to reducing its environmental impact and therefore this bottle is 100% recyclable"- This is great! I will definitely be using their products from now on. My moisturise comes in a glass pot- it is recyclable, also I can wash the pot out and refuse it as a jam jar, a tea light, a jewellery pot. The body shop are also great in making their products as well as their packaging, sustainable and eco-friendly.
Another tip- Instead of buying cotton face pads that come in packaging (and if you buy a two pack they come in even more packaging)- use a flannel! Maybe a little old school but you can wash them with the rest of your laundry. Tooth brushes and ear buds are also made with plastic- use alternatives, many companies now sell wooden or bamboo ones, and I love the organic quality that they have.
2) Food storage: Use tupperware! Everyone has that one drawer that is bursting with a mountain of tupperware right? Don't throw it away-Use it! You keep your food from drying out and contaminating other products whilst helping the planet. And the best thing- they are dish washer friendly! Please do not use cling film- it is made with plastic and contains a chemicals that are transferred to your food (such as BPA- a chemical containing oestrogen that once ingested, tricks your body into responding to that hormone, causing many problems with your bodily functions! (And don't we have enough of that already ladies?) Also, use glass jars! They look great (very pinterest!), and can store your pasta, dried beans, nuts, cereal, in a way that is hygienic and sustainable.
Please do not buy plastic cutlery- ever. They are a single use plastic and often marine creatures such as sea turtles and seals, get these things caught up their nose, in their eye, or bits break off and they are eaten. Please don't do it! Use wooden or metal alternatives.
4) Fruit and veg: Supermarkets are terrible for storing all of their food in plastic. Instead of buying your bags of apples and carrots, go to a greengrocers and pick the vegetables right off the shelf without their packaging! Food packaging does not prevent the food from picking up bacteria, it still needs to be washed, so it makes little difference. In buying from green grocers you are also supporting local businesses, and selecting your own fruit and veg! (No more finding that one mouldy lemon that spoils the rest of the bag). It is often tastier produce, and cheaper than supermarkets. It is also more engaging for children to see the raw shapes and colours, and to handle the food as they help to put them into your basket. Also, I adore the smell of a green grocers, it is so nostalgic!
3) Water, juice, coffee and tea: Treat yourself to a long lasting water bottle, there are so many ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing designs, and soon there will be water refill stations in every cafe! Likewise, coffee cups are not recyclable- Costa and Starbucks have a lot to answer for! Instead use your own reusable flask. Mine in baby pink and is made from straw wheat so it is biodegradable, and it looks so nice! Tea- so many tea bags and their packaging contains plastic- instead use loose leaf tea! Buy yourself a tea strainer or a beautiful tea pot, and enjoy a nostalgic brew that tastes better, and looks better!
Another tip- when checking your packaging, make sure that the cap can also be recycled, very often the main bottle can be but not the topper.
4) Bags, Bags, Bags: Please please please, do not buy plastic bags. These, along with plastic bottles, are what divers find at the bottom of the deep ocean trenches. Use a bag for life, they are stronger and more resilient than plastic bags, and now with the 5p charge- a much cheaper investment. In addition, if you happen to have plastic food bags (such as freezer bags and zip lock bags) in your drawers already, wash them out once you have used them, and then use them again. Of course if you are using them to wrap raw meat that is different for hygienic reasons. But things like bread, crackers, vegetables, wash them out!
Another tip: If you freeze your food in plastic bags- don't. Use you tupperware containers that are bursting out of your cupboards! Yes, they take up more space but you can get all different sizes and the long term benefit definitely outweighs the short term problem of having little space in your freezer.
So, to wrap this up...
It is so hard in our modern day lifestyles to go about our day without encountering plastic, in fact, it's impossible (unless you live in a native tribe in the middle of the Amazonian). But these everyday decisions really impact upon the environment. If everyone adopted a mentality where single use plastics are boycotted and sustainable living is endorsed- we have a good chance of turning this world around!
We are killing our planet and we are responsible, but we are also responsible for its salvation. The natural world provide us with so much beauty and life, it rebalances our mental health and keep our hearts happy. So we have a duty to nurture it back to life. For years I felt so disheartened and I adopted the defeatist attitude that it is too late to save planet Earth- but I am realising more and more that if we act now, there is still time for our children, and our children's children to walk through forests and swim in a clean ocean flourishing with colourful marine life. The ocean is not separate from the land, it is integrated within our complex ecosystem- so to save the ocean would be to save the earth. As you go about your day, buying your clothes, products and food, please spare a though for our world.
Please keep our planet blue!
These images have been taken from the internet and are sourced from anti-plastic and sustainable ocean organisations...This is our reality.
On my live instagram stream on Saturday, I discussed the personal journey that I have taken with my illustrative work, and what has lead me to create imagery that reflects the global issue of plastic pollution within our Oceans. Along with sharing my personal views about why the oceans should be respected and treasured, I also discussed the types of plastics that can and can't be recycled, and tips on how we can be more mindful about what we buy and store our products in. This call to change was ignited after watching the 'A Plastic Ocean', a documentary (information attached below) that filmed the devastation of whales suffocating, turtles growing malformed shells, seals caught in fishing twine, sea birds dying from plastic stuffed stomachs, plankton ingesting microplastic toxins, and the impact that this all has upon the food chain later down the line. This sad reality unfortunately links back to mankind- our materialistic and consumerist lifestyles, and the decisions that we make everyday. On this blog post, and posts yet to follow, I will reiterate what I discussed on my live stream, in a step-by-step more concise method.
Firstly, I am going to start with how we can changing our perception of the natural world to appreciate and value it for its own sake, rather than how it sustains our human living.
1) Our ecosystem is abundant with flourishing lifeforms, such as organisms, species and habitats that thrive from each other and cohabitant in order to exist. Often, a stereotype of a nature lover is either a hippy who walks everywhere barefoot and warbles songs to the moon, or frumpy nerds wearing kaki trousers and a zip up green fleece. This is not the case! Number one- those stereotypes are very disrespectful to the individual who give their life to sustaining the earth that we live on, and number two- anyone who enjoys a walk in the park or a paddle in the sea is a nature lover. Don't be afraid to step out of your high-tech world and admit that planet Earth is a very beautiful spectacle.
2) If human's were to become extinct-planet Earth would live on! The natural world does not depend on us for anything- yes we cultivate the land and prevent diseases from wiping out species, but most of those diseases have been caused by pesticides or disruption the food chain, caused by us! Nature is much more powerful than we will ever be, and no matter how much we try to control and contain it, it will always win.
3) We ourselves are made from nature. When we die our bodies breakdown and decay into matter that feeds back into the earth and soil, fertilising new growth and flourishing. As a society we are so separated from nature due to technology and industry, that we forget how we are just as much a part of the land, oceans and air. We are a part of our wonderfully complex ecosystem...we are equal to it, and certainly not above anything. Yes, we may have a higher conscious and intelligence that separates ourselves from many species within the animal kingdom, but that consciousness should not be used in selfishness and vain, it should be utilised to support and sustain life on Earth.
This is why we should care about what happens to our beautiful planet!
For those of you who listened to my live instagram story today- this is the film that I was talking about. Please please watch it- you can purchase it on plasticoceans.org/about-film/, or watch on Netflix! It is the most heartbreaking, shocking and raw account of what it's like to experience plastic pollution and that devastation that it causes to marine life and ecosystems, as well as our own health.
Back Cover Design.
Book Jacket Design.
This is my entry for the Adult Non-Fiction Cover category for the Penguin Design Award 2018. I chose to design a cover for A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking because 1, it includes incredible groundbreaking content which has enabled us to develop our understanding towards space, time, and the basis for human existence- and 2, because I loved the idea of illustrating the beautiful mystical, and mysterious form of stars, planets and galaxies. The design surprisingly didn't take me very long and I really enjoyed focusing my creative energy towards something non-uni related.
This was my entry to the 'Light Grey Art Lab' open exhibition, 'Arboretum'.
This image is inspired by the rich diversity of ecosystems that are found amongst the trees. The tree frog embryos allude to the cyclic power of nature, and the fungi offers an insight into the beautiful complexity of living organisms that live upon tree bark and the forest floor. The luminescent green particles represent the destruction that mankind inflicts upon the natural world through pollution. It is through visual realisations such as this that tells me that I am wholly in love with nature.
This illustration provides another example of the horrific effects of manmade pollution: ocean animals entrapped and strangled by netting/plastics; the ingestion of manmade toxins sourced from human sewage, pesticides, oil spills, and plastic pollution; the bleaching and dissolving of calcium carbonate within shells and corals, due to increased levels of ocean acidity. Our oceans and our earth are sacred and beautiful, why have we let this happen?
Another illustration based upon plastic pollution within the ocean. Turtles sadly mistake plastic bags for Jellyfish and many of these majestic and beautiful ocean animals die from suffocation. Many turtles also become entangled in plastic packaging such as twine, string, netting, and bottle rings. This leads to malformed shells and cuts into the animal's flesh.