Youths fight plastics pollution with art

Beyond Plastics program names winners of Earth Day poster contest

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BENNINGTON — From 113 entries received from students around the country, Rachel Huang from Flushing, Queens, N.Y.; Athena Tumbelekis from Geneva, N.Y.; and Artley Whipple from Orinda, Calif., have been selected as winners of the Beyond Plastics Earth Day poster contest.

Beyond Plastics, a nationwide project based at Bennington College that empowers students and community leaders around the country to reduce plastic pollution, organized the Earth Day poster contest to celebrate the planet, raise awareness of our plastic pollution crisis, and promote ideas to stem the tide of plastic pollution.

"Since the beginning of this health crisis, Beyond Plastics shifted to online activities to engage students and the public on this important issue from the safety of their own homes," said Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics and visiting faculty at Bennington College. "We are excited to announce these poster contest winners. Every piece of art is inspiring, and we thank all of the students who took the time to make art that represents their vision on this important environmental issue. We were blown away by the incredible range of talent and interest in this issue by these wonderful students."

All winners will receive a plastic-free starter kit filled with products to help reduce or eliminate the amount of single-use plastic used in their households.

'This is Where Plastic Is,' Rachel Huang, 17, Flushing, Queens, N.Y.

"I made this poster in hopes of spreading awareness about the effect of plastic pollution on marine wildlife. I decided to create a portrait of a sea turtle in pointillism to illustrate how marine biodiversity is slowly deteriorating due to the surplus of pollution in their habitat," Rachel said. "The sea turtle has a straw in its nose and holds a plastic bag in its mouth, which it assumes is food but, much to its dismay, is not. As opposed to illustrating a traditional shell, I decided to construct the figure of a shell through a pile of single-use plastics much like the ones visible in our waters. In a more lighthearted note, the sea turtle's name is Tortellini and he carries with him a warning: we can prevent this if we take action."

'Save the Earth,' Athena Tumbelekis, 9, Geneva, N.Y.

"I was inspired because there is a lot of plastic in the ocean, and the plastic hurts the animals and the water," Athena said.

'Planet Not Plastic,' Artley Whipple, 10, Orinda, Calif.

"I feel really strongly that this plastic problem is extremely big," Artley said. "I really love animals; I have also been to some of the climate change protests in San Francisco. The reason I did my poster like this is that pretty soon the earth is going to literally be covered in plastic, and there would hardly be any room for humans and other animals. Our house— my Mum, Jemima; Dad, Will; Little Brother, Herbie; and my dog, Gabe have been trying to go #PlasticFree, and we all care really strongly about this crisis."

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Five students were selected as finalists to the Beyond Plastics Earth Day Poster Contest, including:

"Bottled Up" by Talia Danastorg, 15, from Queens, N.Y.

"The Problem" by Izzy Duccini, 17, from Dubuque, Iowa

"Save Our Earth" by Vivienne Horvath, 11, from Hollywood, Fla.

"Earth Day 50" by Aiden Jakubaik, 12, from Brookfield, Ill.

"Stop Using Plastics!" by Olivia McGurk, from Katonah, N.Y.

About Beyond Plastics

Launched in January 2019, Beyond Plastics is a nationwide project based at Bennington College that pairs the wisdom and experience of environmental policy experts with the energy and creativity of community leaders and students to build a vibrant and effective anti-plastics movement.

The project's mission is to end plastic pollution by being a catalyst for change at every level of society. Learn more at


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