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UCA student highlights severity of marine pollution by building a boat from plastic found on Kent beach

With pollution a significant problem affecting our oceans, one of our students has been drawing attention to the issue by building a boat almost entirely from marine pollutants found on a single beach in Kent.

Daryl Haines, who is 19 and completing a Diploma in Art & Design at UCA Canterbury, set about collecting waste plastic from the beach near to his hometown of Faversham. Once he had collected enough plastic, he melted the waste down into a liquid mixture before pouring it into moulds to form the skeleton of the boat. Next, Daryl created a canopy to cover the skeleton by melting plastic bags together with an iron. The frame of the boat was held together with wood and the entire process was documented in the video Drastic Plastic.

Daryl says: “I was compelled to carry out this project by the sheer amount of plastic waste entering the ocean each year – a problem that seems to be increasing. I have always been interested in boat-making and the traditions of constructing small scale vessels, so thought what better way to bring the extent of marine pollution to people’s attention than to create a boat out of marine pollutants left lying around on a local beach.

“The overall message was to demonstrate how much pollution there is in our oceans. I wanted people to see the video and be shocked at the realisation that there’s enough plastic on one beach for a guy to make an actual boat. I thought it might encourage people to think about the disposable plastic bottles they drink from, or the plastic cutlery they use and the plastic bags they carry shopping in, and consider the impact that these things have on the environment.”

The vessel took around two to three weeks to make, from collecting the materials to the successful maiden voyage. Daryl’s video, Drastic Plastic, which documents the process, has proved to be extremely popular.

“The biggest challenge I faced was collecting and processing all the marine litter. It took a really long time as I didn't have any machines to break down the plastic, it was all done by hand,” Daryl explains.

“The popularity of the video was really rewarding – I really wanted lots of people to see it so I shared it on Facebook and it spread pretty far. It was encouraging to receive feedback from people acknowledging how much of a problem plastic pollution is.”

The video can be viewed, here.