Last month, Skirball Cultural Center welcomed almost 300 high school students, along with their teachers and chaperones for a special screening of Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as part of their “High School Film & Dialogue Series.” For this program, they partnered with the Los Angeles-based environmental nonprofit 5 Gyres, and the founders of the organization, Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins were there to present and facilitate activities.
Before viewing the film, students read didactic panels that we loaned them from our recent Gyre: The Plastic Ocean exhibition and looked at half of a Japanese fishing boat that washed up on the Hawaiian coastline years after the 2011 tsunami in Japan. After watching the documentary, students engaged in several hands-on activities, led by 5 Gyres and Skirball educators. The students were shocked at how many plastic microbeads are found in commonly used facial cleansers and toothpaste. In addition, 5 Gyres recreated a “trash beach” with actual trash from the coasts of Hawaii. The students also saw the plastic pieces that animals on land and in the sea are ingesting. After all of this, the students came up with some solutions of their own and added it to a communal solutions station. Some ideas included: “stop using plastic straws, stop using lids made from plastic, bring your own reusable bags, make your own face mask, use a natural toothpaste, start using reusable bottles, buy less or don’t buy at all so they make less.”
If you are interested in eliminating plastic microbeads from the products you use, you are welcome to send your facial scrubs, toothpastes, or other products that contain microbeads to 5 Gyres. As part of their #banthebead campaign, they are sending products back to the manufacturers to demand more environmentally responsible ingredients.
Log onto the 5 Gyres website for more information.
Half of the Japanese fishing boat, with the panels from
the Fisher Museum in the background: