Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Upcycling Marine Debris

February 14, 2017

Living Oceans engaged in some creative repurposing over the Christmas season, turning small fishing floats into lovely Christmas ornaments. At the same time, the school children who helped us to do that learned important lessons about marine sustainability.

Sustainable Seafood Campaigner Claude Tremblay engaged a number of school teachers whose students ranged from kindergarten to grade four to paint an impressive 200 ornaments. Some of these were pure works of art, and all of them were beautiful, unique, and colourful! What made it special was the fact that this project tied in nicely with what these students were learning in class: the environmental issues we face as a society, and the responsibility we have to get invloved in mitigating those problems.

The floats were recovered in our Clear the Coast campaign last summer, which saw Living Oceans volunteers collect a stunning 10 tonnes of plastic marine debris from northwestern Vancouver Island shores. Most of the debris by far was generated by the fishing and aquaculture industries. We recovered thousands of floats of various types and kept back a few that we thought we could repurpose. Some of the foam floats, showing distinctive bite marks where animals had tried them out for lunch, made it clear that these plastics pose an immediate danger to the health of both marine and terrestrial life.

While the project this year was a relatively small pilot, it proved that we can keep some of these plastics out of the landfill, and transform and up-cycle them to make meaningful objects while teaching school children about anthropogenic impacts on our planet. We can also use the proceeds to help fund the next Clear the Coastcampaign. That's what we call closing the loop!