Credit: Courtesy Meredith Andrews
Advent calendar made from ocean plastics
At this time of year, advent calendars deck the halls around the world.
And the stunning island of Bermuda, some 600 miles east off the coast of the Carolinas, is no exception.
But the island's pink sand beaches share a problem with many coastal regions around the world -- plastic pollution from the ocean is washing up on them.
To highlight the problem, local photographer and visual artist Meredith Andrews is collecting plastic that has washed up on the shores of Bermuda to create a striking advent calendar on Instagram, which she calls an "Adventgram."
Using toothbrushes, lighters, glow sticks, fishing rope and bottle caps, Andrews evokes a powerful yet creative statement about ocean pollution.
"I think about what I have, what I've done the day before, what message I want to express and actually in a way I sort of let the trash guide me," she told CNN.
Andrews picks up all the litter she finds on the beach, but in this project she uses recognizable objects that people can relate to having thrown away.
"I'm just trying to say that this is all of our problem. We are choking in plastic. We are drowning in plastic," she said. "Killing our ocean and choking our ocean with plastic is going to have such a detrimental effect on everyone on the planet."
Every year, millions of pieces of marine trash wash up on shores around the world.
Just about every piece of plastic ever made still exists today including the more than five trillion pieces of plastic already in the oceans.
According to the World Economic Forum, there are about 150 million tons of plastic in the oceans today, and other research estimates that between five and 13 million tons are being introduced into them every year.
A wider movement, a local change
Andrews' work fits into a wider movement to clean up the world's oceans.
In September, The Ocean Cleanup launched an effort to clean trash from the notorious "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," between California and Hawaii, although it has struggled to collect waste.
In Dubai, a trash-eating 'shark' drone has been prowling the marina to collect floating waste before it goes out to sea.
On Instagram, the hashtag #5MinuteBeachCleanUp has created a digital initiative that encourages people near coastal environments to "be a hero for five minutes" and pick up trash on the beach.
"Up to this point what I've collected, and what I've kept would easily fill the volume of my car twice," said Andrews. "I have a bunch of buoys, crates, larger items that I'm not featuring in this but there's definitely no shortage of it."
But she added that people in Bermuda are conscious of the problem.
"Our beaches are our parks and our playgrounds so there are a lot of people who are very on board with fixing the problem specifically here," she said.
Earlier this year, in an effort to help curb ocean pollution locally, the Governor of Bermuda, John Rankin, said the island will place a charge on single-use plastics by 2020 until eliminating them completely by 2022.
"The horrific impact of plastic on the environment is a global issue," Rankin said in a speech directed at the nation's legislatures. "In the era of the manifested impact of climate change, Bermuda must consistently act to preserve its oceans."
This Christmas, Andrews' work joins many other efforts to get sea-rious about keeping trash out of the ocean.