Elevating Awareness of Marine Debris

Posted by Kelly Cohun
December 20, 2013
Taiwanese Children Join Officials and Their Families From the American Institute in Taiwan for the Marine Debris Art Challenge

One person’s trash can be another person’s treasure -- or an art project, in this case.  This fall, the Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) teamed up with U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world for the Marine Debris Art Challenge, elevating international awareness of marine debris for the annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) on September 21. Embassies and Consulates hosted cleanups and worked with local communities to clean up the coast and, at the same time, turn salvaged material into art projects.

In addition to the traditional target of the International Coastal Cleanup -- beaches -- many Embassies and Consulates organized cleanups of waterways, river and stream banks, harborside areas, and even on the shores of ponds or lakes.  Local schools, environmental organizations, outdoor recreation associations, and other community and civic groups worked side by side with U.S. diplomats to make their local marine or aquatic environment a cleaner place – and turned what would have been trash into art!

Marine debris comes from many sources and places, including industrial practices, human behavior, and inadequate infrastructure, and it doesn’t recognize borders.  International cooperation through initiatives like the Honolulu Strategy can help eliminate marine debris and reduce the ecological, human health and economic impacts associated with it.  

From Thailand to Tijuana to Benin, artists demonstrated their creativity and innovation, making the most out of the debris.  The Department of State received some truly excellent marine debris art submissions and stories about cleanup events from across the globe.  Check out some of the photos featuring the art projects and the cleanups in the links below:

Are you interested in making marine debris art?  You can still submit a project through December 31, 2013.  For submission and more details, visit the Marine Debris Art Challenge Flickr page.

Follow the Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs on Facebook for updates about the Marine Debris Art Challenge and other initiatives.

About the Author: Kelly Cohun serves as a Foreign Service Officer in the Office of Oceans and Polar Affairs in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.


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