Exhibit highlights the impact of plastic pollution

The Toronto Zoo recently launched a new temporary exhibit called Washed Ashore – Art to Save the Sea. This unique exhibit educates about the negative and devastating effects of plastic pollution and aims to spark positive changes in consumer habits. This aesthetically powerful art installation is built completely from plastics found in oceans and waterways around the world.

Each year, sea birds, whales, seals, sea turtles and other marine life die after ingesting plastic or becoming entangled in the plastic debris and approximately 300 million pounds of plastic is produced globally each year and less than 10 percent of that is recycled. Washed Ashore, with its 10 larger-than life sculptures, will inspire zoo guests to make a difference in their day-to-day lives.

The Toronto Zoo is also excited to announce the Washed Ashore exhibit is being supported by 10,000 Changes.

10,000 Changes is a multi-platform plastics engagement program that will help Canada move toward zero plastic waste by driving meaningful reductions in the plastic that’s produced, used, and discarded by Canadians. The program will bring together the policy strength and subject matter expertise of Recycling Council of Ontario, and the communications power and reach of the Canadian Geographic, to educate and inspire Canadian individuals, governments, businesses, and classrooms to change the way they produce, consume, and dispose of plastics.

“It is sad and terrifying to consider garbage patches the size of the Province of Quebec in our oceans,” says Toronto Zoo CEO Dolf DeJong. “Toronto Zoo is committed to taking actions on plastics and Washed Ashore is a powerful way to help guests understand the scope of the single-use plastics problem our environment is facing and the steps that can be taken to help address the problem.”

“Education and awareness are fundamental to making positive changes to our consumption behaviour and patterns,” says Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario. “Washed Ashore is a tremendous visual and emotional learning opportunity that directly relates to the impacts of plastic pollution on the environment and wildlife, and like 10,000 Changes, will motivate us to rethink plastics.”

Inspired by Washed Ashore, Toronto Zoo’s Exhibit Design staff designed and built their own sculpture of a polar bear, named “Poly”, created entirely from plastic waste gathered from local shoreline cleanups, the Toronto Zoo’s own site, and local supporting organizations; plastics that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill.

Although Washed Ashore’s plastics have been collected predominantly from oceans, the messaging of making our local waterways clean from plastics is equally as important. Toronto Zoo’s works to design and deliver impactful conservation-focused research, restoration, and outreach programs that highlights the importance of saving Canada’s sensitive wetland species and their habitats. A top priority for the zoo is to encourage public awareness and participation in protecting local biodiversity through citizen science and engagement.

Photo: Front-Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Back (l-r): Councillor Jennifer McKelvie, Ward 25 Scarborough-Rouge Park; Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director Recycling Council of Ontario; Councillor Paul Ainslie, Chair, Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo; MPP Rod Phillips; Angela Haseltine Pozzi, Founder & Artistic Director, Washed Ashore; and Dolf DeJong, Chief Executive Officer Toronto Zoo. Photo courtesy of Toronto Zoo.

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