Hannah Tizedes is an American mosaic artist and Michigan native who creates colourful paintings and mirrors from beached trash. She first began by collecting trash for herself at The Great Lakes, Michigan, before eventually creating The Cleanup Club. This non-profit organisation cleans up and educates the public about plastic pollution at the Great Lakes. Tizedes’ bright and engaging mosaics have allowed her to start a movement of trash collection at the Great Lakes while also inspiring others from around the world to do the same for bodies of water around them. Her endeavours help make The Great Lakes and other underwater ecosystems hospitable for life, free from the clutches of harmful human waste. This is why her pieces are relevant to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Responsible Consumption and Production and Life Below Water.

Hannah Tizedes working on her Great Lakes Mosaic Installation for SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium. Image courtesy of Hannah Tizedes’ website.

According to a study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 22 million pounds of plastic waste enters the Great Lakes annually. The United States Geological Survey has also found that 112,000 particles of microplastics are found in every square mile of the Great Lakes’ water. As a result, a study by the American Chemical Society (ACS) has found that 85 percent of the fish sampled from the Great Lakes in Michigan had microplastics in the digestive tract.

Microplastics are extremely destructive to wildlife. They can fill an animal’s stomach, making it think it is full without providing its body with any sort of nutrition. If left unattended, as is the case with most wildlife, this will lead to death from indigestion and impaction. This is why efforts such as Tizedes’ are crucial for the welfare of wildlife in the Great Lakes.

Hannah Tizedes for Blueland. Image courtesy of Hannah Tizedes’ website.

Tizedes’ mosaics also help her audiences understand exactly what type of polluters end up in the Great Lakes. This happens because Tizedes sorts the litter she’s found by colour and pastes them onto the canvas without altering their original forms, making it easy for viewers to understand exactly what these bits of plastic are. Her canvases can be made of anything from plastic combs and toys to disposable lighters and shampoo bottle nozzles. This will allow her audiences to see and visualize exactly what plastic purchases they are making that are polluting places like the Great Lakes. 

Hannah Tizedes for Surfrider. Image courtesy of Hannah Tizedes’ website.

Tizedes also takes her practice with her wherever she goes, collecting plastic trash from the beach even while on vacation in Greece. She does what she can and tries to engage others to make a difference by collecting plastic trash and changing their consumption behaviours, all for a future free from plastic pollution and microplastics.

Find out more about Hannah Tizedes’s mosaics and their other pieces by checking her Instagram @hannahtizedes.

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