Words and photos by Coalatree Ambassador Weston Fuller
Plastic…it doesn’t belong…in our water, on or beaches, or discarded in our environment. Every individual is personally responsible to take care of themselves and the environment from which we make a personal impact on. Plastic Surf is a conceptual photographic series of images, which juxtaposes real plastic items, collected from local beaches along the coastline of Southern California, with that of recognizable moments within surfing. Photos have been illustrated to show the problem of what our beloved landscapes and passion would be polluted with, if we don’t personally take responsibility for our actions.
I’ve been blessed as a photographer to experience some amazing places, but hate when the beauty of a location is tainted with trash.
I grew up in the foothills of Salt Lake City, Utah, where my love for being in the outdoors began. Now that I’m older and still love being in the outdoors, I look for opportunities and clients to help me hold onto my youth and allow me to produce photos that involve the beautiful locations found throughout the world. I remember being on an assignment and dragging myself up a snowy mountain trail to a view point that would help me capture the location and play out the narrative of the story I was trying to tell, when after being completely pleased with myself and thinking…”I must be the first person to stand in this place,” this thought was taken from me when I noticed a discarded piece of trash in a nearby bush. Over the years this same situation has occurred on multiple locations, from the top of mountains, to remote dessert floors and most recently on the local beaches near my home. With beaches being a lot more accessible than most mountaintops the amount of trash found at these locations is greater. But why should any trash, be left behind…anywhere?
Each year I try to take on a personal photo project and in the summer of 2017 I started my Plastic Surf project to help not only push myself but to be a project that could make a difference and help others take note of the problem I was noticing on the beaches near my home. Pictured throughout the PLASTIC SURF series are plastic items, found on the beaches in Southern California, which I and my family collected over a short amount of time. Each piece was used and added into surf image I took, which would be the foundation of juxtaposing the beauty and serenity of the landscape with that of the growing plastic problem, if not confronted.
The number one most found item, were bottles or bottle caps. Cups, straws and bags came in a close second.
I’m not “speaking” out against the manufactures of these products, because I believe they have their rights to distribute food and items we all enjoy as a convenience and I know that some of these plastic contributors are making efforts to use sustainable products and containers in the future. My current issue lies with the consumer and the disregard an individual has by not properly discarding the trash he/she creates. The issue is with single use plastic and an individual who does not clean up after him/her self.
This series of images started out as a personal project, but I know that there are a lot of organizations who have made it their mission to help remove the plastic and/or bring awareness to the issue in hopes that others will help pick up the cause and contribute. It doesn’t have to be a lot and in most cases, it’s just being mindful of the issue to make sure that we are not personally contributing to the problem, but trying to be a part of the solution.
When collecting the trash from the beaches myself, I was surprised to find others scavenging the beach in the earlier hours with a trash bag in hand. Cleaning up from the crowds who had lazily left their trash at the end of the previous day. These individuals are some of the local unspoken hero’s, that might not ever get recognized for what they do, but they do it anyways and we benefit from their efforts….THANK YOU!
To learn more about the project and what you can do to minimize your impact n our oceans, visit the following resources:
Take action for a Strawless Ocean
Listen to an interview with Weston on The Last Picture podcast