Mar 08, 2021
Mask Fish on Butts Forest
Eduardo Jiménez begins most days with a long walk on the Brigantine Beach at sunrise, collecting litter washed in from ocean tides or left behind from beach visitors. Before trashing the litter, he arranges his found items into stunning temporary artwork, then snaps a photo for Instagram. By creating this artwork from trash, he ultimately hopes to bring attention to the waste that people generate and remind everyone to dispose of their items properly.
First involved with cleanups coordinated by the Central Jersey Stream Team, (a group focused on Raritan River cleanups), Eduardo was astounded by the number of littered items they uncovered and noted how fantastic it was to have community members and town officials work together toward a common goal. As a COVID precaution, Eduardo began working from home in spring of 2020 at his family’s Brigantine beach house and spent his time in Atlantic County making a positive impact on this shore community. His daily beach walks not only serve as a good deed for the planet and a healthy activity (both physically and mentally), but he also now feels a new connection with his Brigantine neighbors. He noted how wonderful it was to see familiar faces, though at a distance, and noticed other residents were collecting litter too.
Eduardo said, “Perhaps people should consider repurposing an item before throwing it away or carrying a plastic bag to collect litter wherever they go.” Since April 2020, Eduardo has collected a tremendous amount of litter in Atlantic County. He uses a trash-picked beach cart to help carry trash bags along the shore and uses a virtual tool called Litterati to measure the amount of material collected. Cigarette butts, bottle caps and small pieces of plastic packing are the most common trash items he finds, but on rare occasion, Eduardo finds discarded treasures too. During the summer, he rescued a Yeti cup, Bluetooth speakers and donated over 50 plastic beach toys that were in excellent condition. One day he stumbled upon a working smartphone and was able to track down the out-of-state vacationer to reunite them with their missing phone.
Eduardo’s professional background in industrial design gives him a creative advantage for transforming beach litter into stunning art. Discarded face masks become fish, cigarette butts become pelicans and plastic packing is transformed into ocean waves and other types of designs. His creativity knows no bounds and the artwork’s design depends on the type and quantity of littered items he finds each day. Sometimes his wife, Jenny, and his daughter, Carmen, lend a hand too. The piece titled; “BAG-O-FISH SCENE” was the winning entry in ACUA’s Virtual Recycled Art Contest (2020) in the age 19+ category. This piece measures 24” x 20” and repurposed a range of littered items including, shopping bags, a baseball cap, cup lids, straws, wrappers, bottle caps, foam pieces, cigarette butts and wet wipes.
His Instagram page is filled with his stunning art creations and the page has also united an international community of ploggers. “Plogging” – is a term that refers to jogging/hiking/walking and picking up litter. This global initiative has gained popularity in recent years and has been a good reason to get moving and make the world a cleaner place. You can hear from other ploggers, connect with Eduardo and check out his daily pop-up art creations on Instagram @eduardoj9.
Beach Toys Left on Beach
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Santarpio, Viking Yachts
ACUA's Adopt-a-Road Program
If you are interested in collecting litter and making a difference in your community, consider joining ACUA's Clean Communities Adopt-A-Road program. Any person or group can adopt a county road, school yard or park. ACUA provides all necessary equipment such as grabbers, safety shirts, bags and gloves.