Friday Photo: Giving Creative Life to Discarded Plastic

Artwork created from recycled plastic found at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Artwork created from recycled plastic found at Point Reyes National Seashore. Photo courtesy of Richard and Judith Selby Lang.

National Parks Magazine Summer 2012 CoverThe new issue of National Parks magazine is online this week (and in mailboxes soon), and its cover features a striking collection of soft-hued objects arranged on a plate. Their shapes curve in different directions; their blues and soft purples play against each other with a subtle sense of harmony. From a distance, the objects almost look like candy, or frosted glass. On closer inspection, a few items become recognizable–a bent spoon, a bottle top, a dart?–but each piece has shed its original purpose and assumed a new identity in its deliberate position on the plate.

What is it? Why is it on the cover of the magazine?

Turns out, the plate is part of an art series featuring discarded plastic washed on the beach at Point Reyes National Seashore. Artists Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang have spent years collecting and categorizing the trash and repurposing their finds into these intriguing images. What’s more, the Langs use their art to educate people to reconsider their behaviors and they hope these beautiful pieces will help inspire positive change.

Read more about how this couple honors the park by turning its trash into treasure, and watch the video below of the two of them in action. (Don’t have time for all eight minutes? Definitely check out the “trophy fish” made of bottle caps at 1:47!)

UPDATE: If you enjoyed this story, read a little more on this creative couple, and browse more photos of their work on this blog post by National Public Radio from August 1, 2012.

About the Author

Online Editor Jennifer Errick

Jennifer Errick is managing editor of online communications at NPCA.

  • Janina

    BEAUTY !!!

  • Lori Sharlow

    WONDERFUL. I love it. If you happen to be on Facebook, please take a look at what I’ve created. I’m just beginning but I hope one day we will all live in a cleaner world. My Facebook page is called, H.I.K.E. Hike In Klean Environments. Simply put, I hike and pick up trash. I’m obsessed with it because I love the outdoors and the garbage has invaded every beautiful place. I was in the Grand Canyon 2 weekends ago and found it there too. I’ve packed out over 15 full bags of trash in less than 2 months (13 of them, by myself). I have friends in many states that are also inspired and picking up after others discard their unwanted water bottles, wrappers and plastic cups in our parks, trails and streets. I’ve encouraged friends who don’t hike or mountain bike to start picking up while taking their dogs for walks in the neighborhood, or when they take their kids to the park. It’s so simple and yet too many turn a blind eye and ignore it. Keep up your amazing work.
    Lori M. Sharlow – Scottsdale, AZ