It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Mississippi Aquarium, thanks in part to the large, brightly-colored Christmas trees in front of the iconic sails. But upon closer inspection, one will find the trees are not only representative of holiday cheer, but they come with a conservation message crafted to create awareness, as well.
Two of three trees, while trimmed in red with seasonal flair, are also covered in about 25 pounds of trash collected by the Aquarium's staff. The staff used spray paint to make the repurposed plastics look like garland and ornaments. The 25 pounds of plastic debris on the trees represent only a tiny portion of plastics and other waste dumped into our oceans daily.
"The world produces 300 million tons of plastic each year, and 150 million tons of that plastic is thrown into the trash due to being single-use," said Dr. Holley Muraco, Director of Research and Conservation at Mississippi Aquarium. "Recycling helps, but only 10-13 percent of plastic items are recycled worldwide. Plastic is generally lightweight and buoyant and is easily carried by wind and water. This results in a large percentage ending up in the ocean. If we all reduce our reliance on single-use, i.e., disposable plastic, that can result in one less water bottle or bag that could find its way into the ocean."
The trees were designed by Sadie Jane's Famous Wreaths and Gifts in Gulfport. The largest of the three trees, all handmade with grapevine, stands 12" tall. Sadie's decorated the middle tree with aquatic-themed ornaments only, and it does not contain any repurposed plastics. It represents a clean waterway with a thriving biological environment.