There’s a massive wave sculpture at Turtle Bay Resort. The work of art is entitled, "Plastic Free Pipeline" and is made out of recycled materials and trash found on the North Shore of Oahu. The wave is big enough for you to stand in it and get barrelled. It’s part of the plastic free movement and was constructed by artist Ethan Estess.
We talked story with Ethan about his exhibit that is turning heads and inspiring others to limit their plastic footprint.
1. How did you come up with the concept and what were your goals behind it?
I came up with the idea for the Plastic Free Pipeline after visiting the North Shore on a surf trip in 2017. I made a small art installation on that trip using beach trash collected by Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, but I realized there was so much plastic material that I had to go bigger. I decided that nothing could be more impactful than a giant Pipeline barrel!
2. How long did it take to build/find all the items. Where did you get all the plastic?
I built the Plastic Free Pipeline entirely from reclaimed materials. The wood was sourced from a reclaimed lumber yard in Honolulu called Reuse Hawaii, and the plastic debris and rope was collected over a period of months by local nonprofit called Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. They organize massive beach cleanups and thousands of volunteers collected this debris nearby Turtle Bay Resort along the Kahuku coastline. The steady Trade Winds blow floating plastic debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch towards the eastern side of Oahu.
3. What was the most surprising trash item you found?
The most interesting piece of trash we found was a piece of fishing equipment called a Smart F.A.D. (Fish Aggregating Device). The Smart F.A.D. is an electronic buoy that fishermen attach to a pile of old nets and rope and throw in the ocean to drift with the currents forever. Yellowfin (Ahi) tunas are naturally attracted to floating debris in the open ocean and they form large schools underneath it. The Smart F.A.D. tells the tuna fishermen if there is big school of a tuna and where it is located so they can catch them with a purse seine net, leaving the Smart F.A.D. and its debris in the water to keep aggregating Ahi. Over 80% of the plastic debris removed from Oahu’s beaches is related to commercial fishing techniques like this, so the best thing people can do is to promote responsibly sourced seafood. Fishermen who use traditional pole and line techniques don’t have to rely on the Smart F.A.D. approach that generates tons of ocean trash. The best thing to do is to know your fisherman, plus that is the best way to get the freshest Ahi!!!
4. How long have you been an artist?
I have been working as an artist and marine biologist since I graduated from a Masters program in Environmental Science at Stanford University in 2012. I work with the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California studying tunas and sharks while telling stories about ocean health using reclaimed materials in my studio in Santa Cruz.
5. How long will the wave be at Turtle Bay and where will it go next?
The Plastic Free Pipeline will be at Turtle Bay until early March, and after that it will hopefully go to Epic Aloha- an interactive photo experience located in Waikiki.
6. Do you have to take it apart and set up again each time it moves?
I designed the Plastic Free Pipeline to break apart in sections that I can move pretty easily with the help of an assistant. It’s a bit of work to move and reinstall it, but it’s totally worth it to keep sharing the message of ocean sustainability!
8. Anything else you would like to share about the wave and your mission?
Building this sculpture was a dream come true, but I wouldn’t have been able to make it happen without the support of the Turtle Bay Foundation, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, the World Surf League, the Johnson Ohana Foundation, the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, Bureo, Hydroflask, and Reuse Hawaii. In particular, Kim and Jack Johnson helped turn this into a community project and we reached thousands of local school students with assemblies and field trips talking about plastic pollution and sustainable seafood. Mahalo nui loa to the project partners and everybody who is helping to leave a cleaner, healthier environment for the next generation.
Turtle Bay Resort has been working towards a plastic free Hawaii. The resort recently got rid of plastic straws. All cups in our restaurants and outlets are either washable and reusable or are made from corn-based or post-consumer materials, which break down quicker than plastic.
To learn more about Turtle Bay Resort's green practices and recognition, click here.
The #plasticfreewave will be at Turtle Bay Resort through the Spring.
You can learn more about Ethan and his work here.
Check out the #plasticfreewave on Instagram and if you take a pic of the exhibit at our resort, be sure to share it on social and tag it #plasticfreewave @turtlebayresort.