The Plastics Project
In 2016, two University of Oregon students and I traveled to the barrier islands in Cordova, Alaska. What we discovered on Hinchinbrook Island were miles of beaches strewn with plastic from around the world. A toothbrush from Korea, a juice bottle from China, the sole of a shoe from Spain. How could this island, so indiscriminate and remote, be a destination to view waste accumulation? It became apparent that the plastic that now contaminates beaches in Alaska did not originate from the state, or even the country we found them in. The irony is unblemished—you may never have access to this island, but your garbage might—its mode of travel: ocean currents.
What ensued was an investigation and a closer look at where the plastic came from, its journey through ocean, and its implications on local environments.
We collected plastic from the beach and took it back with us to photograph. We aimed to juxtapose the plastic we found with a natural counterpart in order to highlight what should be populating the beaches of Alaska.