Going beyond plastic waste

The University of New Brunswick Art Centre is using plastic to make art and raise awareness for World Water Day. (Jerry-Faye Flatt/AQ)

A new campaign hosted by the University of New Brunswick Art Centre is aiming to create awareness around plastic by using Instagram.

Plastic Free UNB is an Instagram-based educational project where people are encouraged to take photos of plastic they see in their community and post it to Instagram using the hashtag, #plasticfreeunb.

The hashtag is a part of a larger campaign hosted by the UNB Art Centre for World Water Day, an annual day that highlights the importance of clean, fresh water.

Marie Maltais, the director of the UNB Art Centre, has organized events for World Water Day since 2011.

Students are collecting plastic from their homes and communities to use in an art instillation. (Jerry-Faye Flatt/AQ)

“What we’re trying to do is get people interested,” said Maltais.

The chosen photos will be printed on large posters that will represent what you see on your phone while scrolling through Instagram.

The image will show the discovered plastic and the caption will contain educational information.

“[It’s] something that engages you on an intellectual level as well as a visual level,” Maltais said.

The posters will be around different buildings on the UNB and St. Thomas University’s campuses. Maltais said the more submissions they get, the more posters they can do up.

Maltais said they do a different theme for World Water Day each year, but plastic is something they keep coming back to.

The plastic items collected varies from items found on the beach to used plastic containers. (Jerry-Faye Flatt/AQ)

“I thought it’s time for us to look at plastic and how it affects our water and how that affects the general land as well.”

This year there are three components to the awareness campaign: the Plastic Free UNB hashtag, an exhibition called Cascade that will be held in the UNB Art Centre gallery and educational projects set up at the Harriet Irving Library, the Student Union Building and in James Dunn Hall at STU.

UNB Sustainability, STU Sustainability and Art Zone are working with the UNB Art Centre on the campaign.

Students have been creating a variety of different art pieces for the exhibit and displays from plastic. It ranges from octopuses made out of plastic pop bottles, to blankets, to ornaments and to lobsters carved out of a chunk of plastic.

Students are creating sea creatures out of plastic to raise awareness for World Water Day. (Jerry-Faye Flatt/AQ)

Hannah Moore, a third-year STU student and co-chair of the STU Sustainability Club, will be going around campus to collect plastic from STU residences to create the displays.

“I think having it as an actual artistic representation where students can see it visually right in front of them is a really good method of sending that message … I think the mass amount of plastic that’s going to be in this installation will have a big impact on people,” Moore said.

World Water Day is on March 22. The exhibit will open that day at 5 p.m. and the displays will appear around the campuses that week.

Maltais said she’s is looking forward to this year’s events.

“We’re looking at being able to affect a small change in your life,” she said.

“It doesn’t have to be major, but if everybody takes a small step, then big things can happen.”