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Plastic Monster

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By Leslie MoyerFebruary 1, 2011What is the ‘€œplastic monster?’€ Artist Simon MAX Bannister introduced to us his notions of the monster he is seeking on our South Atlantic gyre expedition. In an exercise that crewmember Carolynn Box of the Bay Area initiated, the 5 Gyres crew were individually asked what the ‘€œplastic monster’€ meant to them. The question, of course, can be taken literally, or can represent a query into the nature of the bigger problems associated with plastic consumption. Here is how each of the 5 Gyres Crew described the ‘€œplastic monster:’€

Simon MAX Bannister, Artist — South Africa
‘€œThe monster is many monsters, ignorance fear and greed being the major culprits. Plastic is the projection for these human attributes, this indifferent material takes all shapes and sizes, colours and textures, from the fragmented micro pieces to the giant twisted gnarly ghost nets’€¦’€

Clive Cosby, Skipper — England
‘€œMan’€™s insatiable desire to produce, consume and discard a synthetic product ‘€¦ without thinking of the consequences.’€

Sara Close, 5 Gyres Development Director — USA
‘€œElusive. Mysterious. A ‘€˜creature’€™ perhaps not of our imaginations, but just deceptive enough to make us second-guess our motives for seeking him out. That is, until we see evidence of his path in each and every trawl we drag through the ocean. It’€™s a monster that knows no specific origin, is not confined by modern day boundaries, and can manifest in an ocean, in a river and on a coastline all at the same time. It’€™s a monster that will require the cooperation of all humanity in order to find and understand.’€

Dale Selvam, Skipper — New Zealand
‘€œLattes and wi-fi.’€

Leslie Moyer, 5 Gyres Activist and Public Relations Specialist — USA
‘€œI liken the plastic monster to the unglamorous, manifested result of uneducated disposal of ‘€œwaste’€ products. Like the flushed goldfish and baby turtles of our childhood that are rumored to grow huge and enigmatic under our streets and city sewers, returning through our waterways to wreak havoc on humanity, the plastic monster is coming back to haunt us in our seas long after we have forgotten the piecemeal wastefulness that contributed to its creation. While plastic is the new ‘€˜marquis villain,’€™ it is one of a great many pollutants (many of them petrol-based, as is plastic) that pour into our watershed, the amalgamation of which has created a silent, slowly building monstrosity.’€

Megan Ponder, Solid Waste and Recycling Specialist — USA
‘€œI was introduced to the concept of the plastic monster on this voyage, although I believe that the monster takes many forms. I think that many of us battle the inner plastic monster in our daily lives. We are constantly presented with single-use plastic options as an option of convenience, but many of us are developing new habits based on practicality, function and balance.’€

Carolynn Box, San Francisco Surfrider Activist — USA
‘€œThe plastic monster lives in each of us and secretly wants to overuse plastic. It is convenient and easy and everywhere. But we need to focus and recognize that there are many negative outcomes associated with the use of plastic, especially single-use plastic. Therefore we each need to control the plastic monster.’€

Stiv Wilson, 5 Gyres Communication Director — USA
‘€œThe plastic monster is a being that we know is there, large, breathing, but we can only see little bits of him. He reminds us of everyone, everything, and he reminds us of the shame we feel for being us. And he grows.’€

Willemien Calitz, Journalist — South Africa
‘€œMmm, this is a hard one. After talking to Simon a lot I have come to see plastic in a different light. A few weeks ago I might have said the plastic monster is what we find on our beaches and in our oceans, corrupting our planet’€™s beauty. But now I think the plastic monster is similar to the one we see in Simon’€™s artwork. A creature created by humans and I therefore think the plastic monster is the consumer and careless evil that lives inside each one of us.’€

Sarah Menzies, Photographer — USA
‘€œThe plastic monster is something that our eyes cannot see. It’€™s the kind of monster that lurks between swells, and occasionally shows itself in the form of vaguely familiar debris. It’€™s the scariest kind of monster, because combating it will require stopping it at its source, which means getting everyone else to see the invisible monster that it is.’€

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