14 Jan 2012

Playing with Trash to Keep the Oceans Clean!

You remember me talking about that beach clean I helped organise here in Alicante, as a part of an environmental initiative hosted by the Volvo Ocean Race (story about the Volvo in Alicante here)? I hinted at there being another reason behind the trash collection than just cleaning up the beach... that the trash had a "higher purpose"! Well, it's time (way past it if you ask me! :p) to reveal said purpose: ART!

"Huh? ART??? In the same sentence as TRASH???  Whaaaaaaat???"

I hear you! But let me explain! There's this group of crazy artist surfer dudes who wanted to do something more for the marine environment that is pretty much their home, so they travel around the world collecting trash that the ocean has dumped back on our beaches (or directly abandoned there by man). With this trash they put together some pretty amazing sculptures (which I will share with you in another post) and show them in exhibits in the hopes of raising awareness for the problem of all that damn trash that's floating around in our oceans. Their name: Skeleton Sea. And they're collaborating with the Volvo Ocean Race this year on a project called Keep The Oceans Clean! At each race stopover port they'll organise a beach clean, then with the trash collected (and more "quality" rubbish previously collect elsewhere) they'll organise a series of workshops during which they will create a sculpture with the help of the local population. And Alicante was their first spot! It's a good thing they did bring all that extra beach rubbish with them, because although we picked up a lot of junk during our beach clean up, most of it wasn't "quality" trash, not of much use for the sculpture...

Not much you can do with cigarette butts and lollipop sticks, huh?

Here's the workshop, with plenty of space and materials ("quality" trash, paints, hammers, pincers, clippers, glue guns... you name it!) to let your imagination loose:

People of all ages came and participated, but I think the ones who had the most fun were probably the youngest...

and they got all the help they needed to bring their vision to life! :o)

Let me take you through my contribution! Since the theme for this sculpture was "flowers" we were asked to make some kind of flower to be included in a giant bouquet. I started out by cutting the bottom off a small water bottle and inserting blue "petals" I'd cut out (with great difficulty, and some welcome help from Xandi!) from some hard plastic. I then added a touch of yellow, and had to leave for a talk the artists were giving, followed by another from the owner of my dive club who had organised a scuba underwater cleanup in Santa Pola last September.

I went back the next day, determined to find inspiration in bits of plastic and other rubbish, and discovered the joys of playing with a glue gun! :p

Each time I thought I was finished there was "just one more thing" I discovered I needed to add to my flower... But the final touch was a little lady bug resting on a leaf.

How do you like my flower? :o)

I left it with the rest of the elements waiting to be incorporated into the final sculpture,

and went outside to check on the guys, i.e. Xandi, Joao and Luis, the Skeleton Sea artists who were hard at work:

Here's what the bouquet, called "Saludos del Mar" ("Greetings from the Sea") looked like last time I saw it:

Now it's got a home in a new museum dedicated to the Volvo Ocean Race, which should have opened last Fall... I can't find any precise info on it online, so I guess I'll just have to find out the old fashioned way: catch a bus downtown and walk to the building and ask around! :p  When I do find it I'll be sure to post a photo the finished bouquet. ;o)

I had a lot of fun with all aspects of this project! Helping Volvo representative Jacqui Smith (great interview of her here) organise and then participating with everyone in the beach clean. Playing with the trash in the workshop and just hanging out a bit with the crazy Skeleton Sea guys!

with Xandi, Joao and Luis :o)

I'm sure they'll be having lots more fun and creating a series of fascinating sculptures made from marine debris in all the Volvo Ocean Race stopover ports! To date they've already been though Cape Town and Abu Dhabi (names linked to interesting articles), and they're on their way to Sanya in China. Here are the two sculptures they've done in those stopovers:

"Future Sea" to be displayed in the Cape Town Aquarium. Foto by Skeleton Sea (more shots at that link)
"Lulu" in Abu Dhabi. Foto by Skeleton Sea (more shots at that link)

If you'd like to participate in one of these beach cleans and workshops, check out the Volvo Ocean Race website for specific dates when they will be taking place in these cities:
  • Sanya - China (February 4-19, 2012)
  • Auckland - New Zealand (March 2012)
  • Itajai - Brazil (April 2012)
  • Miami - USA (May 2012)
  • Lisbon - Portugal (June 2012)
  • Lorient - France (June 2012)
  • Galway - Ireland (July 2012)


  1. That is an amazing project. Really interesting. It's amazing what you can make out of a pile of trash.

  2. ghaaa! It makes me crazy. We walk the beach every day in Maui, when we are there. The cigarette butts are just awful. I pick them up, but I'm cursing the smoker the whole time. Why are people so unconscious??

    Love this project. I look forward to the day when everyone realizes how important our oceans are to our wellbeing. As for cruising - I just found out they dump their sewage into the oceans. Is this true???


Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)