Art for Awareness: Plastic Pollution


Globally, to date, there is approximately 8.3 billion tons of plastic in the world – some 6.3 billion tons is just trash. Throughout neighborhood streets and even the school community, trash is a prevalent issue that can disrupt the lives of individuals. Aware of this rising issue, Francis Lewis Studio Art and Design Academy promotes recycling and environmental awareness through an art exhibit. 

“It is amazing how much plastic is wasted everyday,” art teacher Ms. Brancato said. “We went around the room and looked at all the plastic. How many times a day do you throw out a water bottle? Your phones have plastic, the cases have plastic, your airpods are plastic – everything is made of plastic.”

The average American makes 4.4 pounds of garbage in a day whereas the average global citizen produces 2.6 pounds of trash a day. In fact, the US produces 33% of the world’s solid waste. 

I think it makes people more conscientious and aware because they [students] didn’t even realize how much plastic they were using,” Ms. Brancato said. “You don’t realize that we’re so engulfed in plastic and once we’re done with it, we throw it away.”

Unconscious decisions often play a role in recycling and conservation. People may not even be aware of the amount of trash that they create in a day. 

“Even though I recycle my plastic bottles and try not to produce too much waste, I still end up getting plastic bags from shopping and Amazon packages delivered,” junior Angela Lam said. “The packages end up going in the trash bin.”

National Geographic establishes that as cities throughout Europe and the United States ban the use of plastic shopping bags, the levels of plastic waste in surrounding bodies of water have decreased. 

“I think people can use tote bags or reusable bags when they go shopping,” Lam said. “They can bring water in the containers instead of having a plastic water bottle everyday.” 

Inspired by the Washed Ashore organization which works to “provide opportunities to express and teach environmental issues through the arts,” Ms. Brancato presented the idea to her class for the annual art exhibition. 

“There was an organization that started to collect plastic and created sea animals out of it,” Ms. Brancato said. “We got the idea for the kids to make that type of project because the most affected area is water and sea life.”

The project resulting from the hard work of multiple art classes was able to successfully deliver the importance of recycling through a creative approach that attracted many viewers.

“It [Studio Art and Design Academy project] shows how the ocean is full of plastic that’s not supposed to be there,” freshman Isabella Useche said. “It’s important to help get the plastic out of the ocean for the animals.”

Ms. Brancato went through with this project to ultimately present the rising concerns regarding plastic pollution as she wants to raise awareness for her students’ generation. 

“I’m hoping that the generation after me might be more mindful,” Ms. Brancato said. “and think about the long term effects that will be left on you and your children and your children’s children.”