An exhibition of plastic – from the tiniest microbeads piling up along Great Lakes beaches to a 500-pound plastic mass of tangled fishing nets and line pulled from the world’s waters – will be on display for the month of August along Lake Erie’s shoreline in the Town of Hamburg.
The “Plastic Waters: From the Great Lakes to the Ocean” exhibit is designed to show the harmful effects of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes and other bodies of water, according to the Alliance for the Great Lakes and California’s 5 Gyres Institute – a research group that has collected plastics in sailing expeditions around the globe and partnered with SUNY Fredonia in studying pollution in the Great Lakes.
The exhibit opens Friday with a 7 p.m. gallery opening and reception at the Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center, 4968 Lake Shore Road, Hamburg.
“Plastics do not belong in our water. Period,” said Marcus Eriksen, executive director and co-founder of 5 Gyres. “We need to stop trash where it starts, and that’s why public awareness and smarter product design is so critical. Our goal, with the help of the public, is to have zero plastic pollution from our lakes to the sea.”
The exhibit’s Great Lakes Tour debuted Saturday at Cleveland’s Burning River Fest. It runs five days a week through Sept. 1 in Hamburg – including a 7 p.m. Aug. 26 panel discussion – before moving on to Grand Rapids, Mich., later in September.
Besides displaying plastic items pulled from the world’s waterways, the exhibit will also honor the thousands of volunteers who annually join in the Alliance’s “Adopt-a-Beach” program to clean up plastic litter and other garbage.
Microbeads are found in various consumer cosmetics products, including facial cleanser, body wash and even some toothpastes.
Momentum generated by discovery of “high levels of microbeads” resulted in several manufacturers of personal care products voluntarily pledging to phase out microbeads.
It also led several states to pursue legislation banning the sale of products with plastic microbeads.
Illinois became the first state to enact such a ban. New York State lawmakers did not approve a ban this year, but a spokesman for Sen. Mark J. Grisanti, chairman of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, said the issue remains a top priority when the State Legislature reconvenes in 2015.