12 Inspiring Works of Art on Plastic Pollution

Can art inspire action to stop plastic pollution? Explore these twelve works that put the spotlight on single-use plastic.

12. "Bristol Whales" by Sue Lipscombe

Created by Cod Steaks helmer Sue Lipscombe in Bristol, England, the larger-than-life whales are depicted as emerging and diving into a sea of plastic waste and were sculpted using locally grown willow. In contrast, over 100,000 single-use plastic bottles were collected from the Bristol 10k and Bath Half Marathon to create the Sea of Bottles around the Whales.

11. "Natural Plasticity" by Jana Cruder and Matthew LaPenta

Jana Cruder and Matthew LaPenta created “Natural Plasticity” as a large-scale commentary on the impact of disposable plastics in the natural environment. The public art installation replicates single-use plastic cups and bottles on a massive scale, and places them in in urban and park settings to stimulate conversation and thought around our interaction with these everyday things.

10. "Blox and Bax" by Kenny Scharf

In "Kenny Scharf: BLOX and BAX" Scharf uses plastic and electrical appliances from the garbage along with plastic beads and decorations, layering colors and objects to create fantastical, intimate dioramas that reference Scharf’s lifelong concern about the detrimental environmental effects of discarded plastic. 

"While I intend my work to raise awareness of the over abundance of garbage and the indestructible non-degradable material that is plastic-petroleum, I also include messages of hope and optimism and joy; so essential with the mounting pressure of global destruction due to our dependence upon petroleum products," he explains.

9. "Bridge" and "Ocean of Plastic" by Dianna Cohen

Dianna Cohen, a visual artist and co-founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition, uses plastic bags to create vivid collages. "Cut like paper, sewn like fabric, these constructions have been presented as flat art (framed or mounted) with crumpled and shiny surfaces that are dulled by dirt and time: un-useful pieces of their former selves," explains Cohen.

As part of the U.S. Art in Embassies Program, she recently traveled to Warsaw, Poland, where an art school organized a Trash Orchestra musical performance timed with projections of Cohen's work. "The performance started with sounds of the sea and drops of water. Then images of plastic bags and bottles were projected on the walls and windows. The performance evolved through the life cycle of single-use plastic and even included the sounds of a garbage truck."  Watch a video of the performance here.  

Working with American artist and environmentalist, Dianna Cohen, the students of Benjamin Franklin International School Elementary in Barcelona, Spain created a mural out of plastic bags to raise awareness about the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans.

8. "One Beach Plastic" by Richard and Judith Lang

Since 1999, Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang have visited 1,000 yards of Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore, California, to gather plastic pollution washing out of the Pacific Ocean.

"By carefully collecting and 'curating' the bits of plastic, we fashion it into works of art," they explain. "The viewer is often surprised that this colorful stuff is the thermoplastic junk of our throwaway culture. As we have deepened our practice we’ve found, like archeologists, that each bit of what we find opens into a pinpoint look at the whole of human culture. Each bit has a story to tell."

7. New Roots Mural by Lila Roo Duncombe and communities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

New Roots is a project-based arts program working with the children of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to create art from recycled materials. "It's hard to explain what paintings mean to this community and especially to the kids," says New Roots founder and artist Lila Roo Duncombe. "There are so few books, photographs, paintings, screens, or images of any kind compared, and it's a very BIG experience for the village when a new intricate and beautiful image in the likeness of their life is created. It is not seen as 'art' or something even to just be looked at. It is touched and kissed and danced around, it is named and renamed, and guarded from harm."

Check out Lila Roo Duncombe's art here

6. "Sea Globes" by Dr. Max Liboiron

Max Liboiron is a scholar, activist, artist, and an assistant professor in geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland. "These sea globes are a representation of the waterfront environment in New York City today," explains Liboiron. "The plastics came from the Hudson River in south Brooklyn, and the rocks are made of bituminous coal from in a landfill that closed in the 1930s at Deadhorse Bay, which now resides underwater at high tide, also in south Brooklyn."

5. "Plastic Pollution Coalition" print by Raymond Pettibon

"Plastic Pollution Coalition" print from original painting, 2010 - 30" x 24" - edition of 25 - $1000

Los Angeles artist Raymond Pettibon’s eclectic inspiration ranges from surfing to 19th century literature. His early work in the punk rock scene secured him a cult following, and he has since developed an international reputation as one of the foremost contemporary American artists working with drawing, text, and artist’s books. Pettibon's "Plastic Pollution Coalition" is a print from original painting. To purchase a print please contact us

4. "Bounty, Pilfered" by Pam Longobardi

Pam Longobardi is an artist, activist, and Distinguished University Professor at Georgia State University as well as Oceanic Society’s Artist-In-Nature. She founded Drifters Project in 2006 after encountering piles of plastic the ocean was regurgitating on remote Hawaiian beaches. With the Drifters Project, she collects, documents, and transforms oceanic plastic into installations and photography. The work provides a visual statement about the engine of global consumption and the vast amounts of plastic objects and their impact on the world’s most remote places and its creatures. Watch the National Geographic's video of Longobardi creating art from plastic pollution found on the Alaskan coast. 

3. "Washed Ashore" by various artists

The Washed Ashore project collected trash that has been removed from beaches through volunteer community cleanups. This trash is then washed, sorted, and prepared for the creation process. Each sculpture is designed and directed by a professional artist and then formed through a collaboration of Washed Ashore team members, volunteers, and students.

2. "Plastic Planet" by Calder Kamin

Calder Kamin, a visual artist from Austin, Texas, creates intricate animal sculptures from plastic bags that are stripped and twisted by hand. "Humans transformed nature to make our lives more convenient, only to leave a massive mess for the next generation," says Kamin of the plastic pollution problem. "What are the steps to solve this crisis?"

1. "Vida Toxica" by Alvaro Soler Arpa

"Vida Tóxica" (Toxic Life) is fourteen sculptures created by Catalan artist Alvaro Soler Arpa with animal bones and plastic waste. The sculptures emphasize the human impact of runaway plastic pollution on ecosystems and individual animals.