Skeleton Sea, a group of surfers in portugal, is fighting to clean up the oceans. Their art installations made with plastic garbage have a serious message: We could destroy the world if we continue tu use plastic.
Skeleton Sea built a sea turtle with plastic waste from the ocean for KALDEWEI. The sculpture is on display at the Iconic World in Ahlen and it stands for the company’s support of WWF.
The birth of Skeleton Sea came after a long hike lasting several hours to a remote surfing spot in the Azores. Accompanied by donkeys to carry their boards, Alexander “Xandi” Kreuzeder and a couple of friends walked across the island of São Jorge to the beach. When he finally caught sight of the Atlantic coast behind a peak, he couldn’t believe his eyes: “There was a kilometre-long wall of coloured plastic waste which had washed ashore”, he says.
The 56-year-old from Munich, who moved to the Portuguese surf hot-spot Ericeira with his family many years ago, remembers the moment with great clarity. Dumbfounded, they trekked along the beach, surrounded by old drums, tubing and plastic bags: “We simply couldn’t get into the water.”
Spanish artist Luis de Dios and João Parrinha, an artist from Portugal, began working with the materials they found on the beach. Xandi Kreuzeder, who was a surfboard shaper and sports photographer, met them and was instantly inspired.
“We started collecting the garbage and making sculptures out of it”, he says. Huge fish made of washed up beach sandals and flippers, sea creatures made of inner tubing, polystyrene and plastic bottles. This was the birth of the art collective Skeleton Sea – and the idea of fighting to keep the oceans clean. That was back in 2005.
Since then, Kreuzeder, Parrinha and their fellow artists-cum-activists have been travelling the world to spread their message: “Keep the oceans clean.” They show their sculptures in museums, at surf festivals, trade shows and street-art events. The money they make through these activities just about covers the organisation’s costs and pays for the transportation of the artworks. A three-person Skeleton Sea team holds info workshops and art events in schools and other institutions for children and young people. “This is about their future”, says Kreuzeder. “We need to sensitise the kids and build awareness.”
Every year, around 12.7 million tons of plastic waste is tipped into the world’s oceans. Every single piece of plastic that ends up in the sea stays there, even if it is no longer visible to the naked eye. UV radiation and movement of the waves erodes it until it is microplastic and plastic powder. Fish ingest these particles, which then – through the food chain – end up in our bodies.
“We teach them about these dangers”, says Xandi Kreuzeder. “Everyone should avoid plastic wherever they can. That’s why we take the kids down to the beach to pick up plastic waste and turn it into sculptures. As memorials and warning beacons.”
If you have been transforming natural raw materials into long-lasting, timelessly beautiful products for over 100 years and if, as a family-run business you think in terms of generations, then the subject of sustainability is firmly and immutably enshrined in your DNA. Especially since our enamelled steel is probably the most sustainable material for sanitary products, is 100% recyclable and consists of 20% recycled steel. With a material like that, it is only logical that we make our production and transport just as gentle on resources.
In 2017 KALDEWEI received the Green Good Design Award for ecologically outstanding products. And then, not least, there’s our 30-year warranty which sets products made of our material apart from plastic alternatives and makes them the ideal choice for eco-friendly, climate-neutral building. In fact, sustainability even pays off as an element of green building certification to, say, LEED standard. And don’t forget that thanks to the long lifecycle, our products retain their value for many years.
As a family business, however, we are also thinking even further ahead – about future generations and the kind of environment we will be bequeathing to them. That is why we have made a commitment to preserve the ocean habitats that connect all of us and which are threatened by the rapidly swelling tide of plastic waste. As a partner of the WWF we are supporting a model project that will lastingly and effectively reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the oceans. The aim here is to make plastics too valuable to simply throw them away. For KALDEWEI this is a further, smarter step to a more sustainable future.