A new exhibition on plastic pollution has opened at the River and Rowing Museum. Spearheaded by local campaigner, Julia Carey, ‘The War On Plastic: Recycling & Reduction’ focuses on the impact of plastic waste on our community, our health and our environment. The exhibition features inspiring sustainability stories from Henley residents, along with thought-provoking artwork from local schools and businesses.
Exhibition creator Jullia Carey is well known for her efforts to reduce single use plastic in Henley. Alongside councillor Sarah Miller, she launched the Refill campaign in October 2017, encouraging local cafes and restaurants to allow people to fill their water bottles for free. Since then, 15 businesses in town have joined the scheme. Julia also runs the ‘Henley Plastic Reduction’ Facebook group, which has amassed over 400 members.
Her latest project – ‘The War On Plastic’ exhibition’ – has been months in the making. The display highlights the devastating impact of plastic pollution, both at home and globally. However, it also places a huge emphasis on what we can do to combat the problem. In their interviews lining the gallery walls, locals Alex Bell, Jessica Sinclair, Nicole Hewitt, Fleur Wells, Ian Reid and Sarah Miller all make suggestions on how to make small sustainable swaps. There are a number of objects on display made from recycled plastic waste, suggesting eco-friendly alternatives to trainers and swimming costumes. Local schools Rupert House, St Mary’s and The Oratory have also made poignant contributions with their artistic plastic projects, demonstrating an encouraging level of awareness amongst the next generation.
Addressing the gallery at Thursday’s launch event, Julia stated, “I hope this small exhibition can be seen as a positive celebration of how many of us care locally. I hope it can inspire us all to go further and help Henley to ultimately become a plastic free town. All rivers lead to the sea, so it’s our responsibility to keep our river town litter free.” She continued, “None of us are perfect and it’s not easy to avoid disposable plastics, but we do have power to vote with our pound and speak up as much as we can so that big producers start looking at alternatives.”
The launch evening was supported by Hotel Du Vin and Brakspear, who provided drinks for the occasion, along with Made For Drinks, whose snacks are aptly wrapped in 50% recyclable packaging. Welcoming the lucky first viewers, Museum Director Sarah Posey said, “This is the first private view we’ve had since I started at the beginning of June, and I’m particularly delighted that it’s on a theme that is very close to my own heart. I wanted to congratulate Julia on the display, and thank her and the interviewees, the artists and the school kids who’ve created such an informative and inspiring exhibition.”
The River & Rowing Museum has been making strides towards becoming more sustainable itself, having started selling reusable coffee cups and water bottles only last week. The museum is hosting a special ‘Green Day’ on August 30th, which will feature a litter pick and a talk from Helen Astle of Planks Clothing, who manufacture their clothes using recycled plastic fibres. In addition, Lynne Lambourne will give a talk and show her film, ‘What Did You Do Today To Save The World?’ Lynne, another local warrior on waste, said, “I think the exhibition is wonderful because it’s pulling together lots of information that people probably haven’t got a clue about. It’s great to see that in the community schools are starting really young and teaching the kids. That’s what I was involved with at the Oratory School – the year 8’s did a turtle made from plastic waste which they found on the beach. I’ve also loaned my swimming costume and my trainers which are made from ocean waste to the exhibition just to show people that there is this whole industry out there now of sustainability, and if they have to make a choice, try and buy trainers that are made from ocean waste, or try and buy an outfit that is made from recycled plastic bottles.”
‘The War On Plastic: Recycling & Reduction’ is located in the Community Gallery, and will end on 2nd September at 5pm.