Food Chain is the third work in my series which features a brain motif, symbolising some of my thoughts on sustainability. (I posted earlier about two works in this series here). This piece brings together several ideas relating to plastic waste and the food chain - our food chain - and those of other species. (Reading 'Plastic - A toxic love story' by Susan Freinkel last year, made me even more aware of the omnipresence of plastic in and around our food stuff).
I began by using some of the disposable plastic materials I encounter with the foods I eat, starting with the black polystyrene used in meat trays. I cut a motif of coral form, a life structure I have seen washed up on many beaches around Moreton Bay. Coral takes a very long time to grow and plastic takes an even longer time to break down. I enjoy eating sushi and began collecting the disposable plastic containers used to provide 'take away' soy sauce - the irony of these bottles being pressed in the shape of fish seemed appropriate for the conflicting thoughts. Plaited grocery shopping bags lead to a found object I picked up on Flinders Beach at North Stradbroke Island. It's the remain of a burst balloon, and unfortunately sea life such as turtles and birds mistake these for food when they are floating in the bay. Looks a little squid like perhaps?
Last year I volunteered in an Earthwatch program called 'Turtles in trouble'. The project collects data which assists with research on the impact of ingestion of marine debris on turtles found in Australia. The morning was spent observing a necropsy of a turtle found dead, to establish the cause of death. Lead scientist Dr Kathy Townsend provided lots of information about turtles as we examined how and what they eat. Turtles can't throw up unwanted items they swallow and are mistaking plastic debris for food, research is showing this is not a random selection.
We spent the afternoon collating data on plastic debris washed up on beaches at North Stradbroke Island. This is when it dawned on me that plastic waste never goes away, it just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, with some gradually entering the food chain at several levels.
Answers are not easy, but I was very impressed with the practical approach taken by scientist. I think convenience is one of the big hurdles for me to make a positive change and accept less disposable plastic.