Federico Uribe: Plastic Reef Community Resources
Artist Federico Uribe weaves together everyday plastic objects—such as used bottles, bottle caps, plastic cutlery, flip flops, and more—to recreate a marine coral reef and its interdependent life forms. With his unique sense of beauty, Plastic Reef plays with the juxtaposition between this whimsical and lively subject matter and its potentially destructive material—plastic.
According to the UN Environment Programme, more than ten million metric tons of plastic enters our oceans every year. The contradictory feelings elicited by this artwork prompt us to reflect on our choices and consider how changes to our daily routines can reduce plastic waste.
Here’s how you can help:
- Avoid disposable plastic items such as straws and shopping bags. Try using those made from other materials. When you do use disposable plastic, make sure it is disposed of or recycled properly, and not left to blow or wash away.
- Take part in clean-up projects in your neighborhood, including along your local waterways. Even plastic trash discarded miles from the sea can eventually end up in the ocean.
- Minimize your use of textiles made from synthetic fibers. A huge contributor to plastic pollution are synthetics such as polyester and rayon clothing and other textiles. Install a filter on your washing machine that traps synthetic fibers released by clothing.
- Dispose of substances such as paint, solvents, and fuel safely. These toxic substances should be disposed of in accordance with state hazardous waste guidelines.
- Use sunscreen that contains UV-reflective minerals. Sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are safer for corals.
- Teach your children and community about the importance of the oceans and coral reefs. Visit an aquarium, watch a documentary on marine life and ocean conservation, and go to museums like this one!
Here are some additional resources to explore:
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Overview of Coral Reef Ecosystems
- The UN Environmental Programme’s Beat Plastic Pollution Interactive
- The National Environmental Education Foundation’s Fight to Reduce Plastic Pollution
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Act for the Ocean Guide
- The Coral Reef Alliance
Marc Taylor, Manager, Planetarium and Science Programs
Image: Federico Uribe (Colombian, b. 1962). Plastic Reef (detail), 2019. Plastic. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Roz Akin.