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Kauai plastic going into Belgian sculpture

LIHUE — Plastic from Kauai’s beaches is going to Belgium where it will become part of a 30-foot tall blue whale sculpture.

It’s all part of Brooklyn-based Studio KCA’s project to create larger than life reminders of human impacts to the environment, and most of the materials for the sculpture are coming from Kauai.

“A lot of our plastic waste is collecting in Hawaii — the northern part of Kauai and the southern part of Hawaii Island,” said Jason Klimoski, co-owner of Studio KCA.

Klimoski and his partner Lesley Chang are also gathering plastic from the United States’ west coast and east coast for the project.

Klimoski and Chang are architects and artists who got their start in gigantic sculptures with eco-friendly messages in 2013 with a sculpture on Governor’s Island, New York.

The piece was entitled “Head in the Clouds” and was a massive cloud made of 53,780 plastic bottles, under which people could walk.

“That is about the number of bottles thrown away in New York City in one hour,” Klimoski said. “That started us thinking about how to reuse all of our plastic waste.”

The pair got the chance to build the whale in Belgium for a celebration surrounding the theme of a liquid city.

They chose to highlight the connection between ocean and cities, because “the ocean is the first liquid city.”

“The best way to do that is to use the plastic that’s created in our cities and ends up in our ocean and create something new,” Klimoski said.

Hawaii Wildlife Fund jumped on board with the project and together they decided to fill 40-foot container with Hawaii-sourced blue, white and black plastics.

Hawaii Wildlife Fund turned to Kauai’s chapter of Surfrider Foundation to help fill the container.

Friday, Surfrider members and volunteers will be filling a 20-foot container supplied by a grant through Young Brothers and sending it to Hawaii Wildlife Fund to combine with the rest of the plastic.

From there, it goes to Brooklyn for assembly and then off to Belgium for final installation, with anticipated completion in April or May 2018.

“We’re always looking for new ways to recycle,” said Carl Berg, chair of the Kauai Chapter of Surfrider Foundation. “It’s a good, fun project.”

Between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet of material will be accumulated for the piece, which is going to rise out of a canal with an accompanying plaque informing people of where the plastic originated.

About three million people are expected to see it within the first year.

“It’s a couple of tons, but if you look at the beaches, it’s not that much plastic,” Klimoski said.

He continued: “It should ignite conversation about what we make, how we package it, and what we do with it after we use it.”

The collection effort began in July and the artists hope to have all of their supplies collected by the end of September. Six or seven months later, they’ll send the mostly-assembled whale from Brooklyn to Belgium, where it’ll be completed.

“The more people become cognizant of plastic and the things they use and the things they throw away, the better our planet will be — the cleaner it will be,” Klimoski said.

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