Plastics have been getting a lot of press lately. And it's not good news.

Non-biodegradable plastics are not only overloading our landfills, they are also clogging our waterways and polluting our oceans at an astounding rate. There are many efforts on many different levels to reduce our dependence on plastics and other toxic waste, and Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum is adding their efforts to the cause. Beginning this weekend, Ships of the Sea is embarking on one of the most ambitious projects they've ever undertaken.

“Making Waves: a Collective Perspective on the Pollution of our Waterways” is described as “a multi-faceted series of events and resource presentations in our attempt to address and help others to address the consequences of water pollution.” The kick-off event takes place May 18 in the museum's North Garden and will feature environmentally themed artwork from 12 artists, including four large works of public art. Representatives from a number of local environmental organizations will answer questions and inform people about local issues that impact the environment.

The exhibition is in partnership with Telfair Museums, which will also be featuring the works of acclaimed international artist and activist Pam Longobardi at the Jepson Center this June. In addition, Ships of the Sea has set up the dedicated website as a resource to enable deeper education and involvement. There will also be a few other related events, including a community conversation and film screening moderated by Longobardi on June 15, a speaking engagement by a representative from Gray's Reef, and two clean-up days on local waterways with environmental activist Paulita Bennett-Martin to be scheduled later this summer.


As Ships of the Sea curator of exhibits and education Wendy Melton explains, the goal of the exhibit and related events is four-fold: to illustrate the devastating effects of water pollution; to recognize that this is a local issue that has a global impact; to stress that individuals must get involved; and to provide individuals with simple yet effective solutions.

“In 2012, we added to the green space in downtown Savannah with the completion of the Museum’s North Garden,” says Melton. “The space was a perfect venue for all types of events and our bookings doubled almost overnight. Unfortunately, however, so did the production of waste. In 2017, after picking up handfuls of plastic straws and drink stirrers (torture devices for marine life) from the North Garden, it was decided that something must be done. I then started conceptualizing this exhibit and our events department went to work finding alternatives for single-use plastics.”

On opening night there will be a silent auction with 25 percent of the proceeds donated to one of the seven environmental organizations sponsoring the exhibit (buyer's choice) and 75 percent going to the artist.

“I believe that attendees should look forward to being around a group of dedicated, passionate individuals who have given their time and energy to this important cause,” says Melton. “It's a free event. Take it all in, and then have a look at the website. Look at some of the ways you can help. The changes you make will have a huge impact on our local and global waterways — we need you to 'make waves' too.”