Rio Plastico

by Ashley Apodaca

Mixed media assemblage, 2023 

In a society that is heavily reliant on plastic products, it can be easy to overlook the impact of plastic pollution on our environment. From the synthetic clothing we work out in, to the packaging our food comes in, to the plastic bags we get in the store, plastic items have become a hallmark of our way of life, but these actions are not without consequence. Plastic items do not simply cease to exist when we are done with them, but rather break down into tiny particles called microplastics that become permanent in our environment. Microplastics have been found in the soil on every continent, in wildlife, and in waterways including the Rio Grande.

This mixed-media piece aims to draw attention to the prevalence of microplastics in our environment by connecting to one of the most precious resources we have in New Mexico- the Rio Grande. Make out of shredded plastic bags, a river of plastic flows through the center of New Mexico illustrating the presence of microplastics in the water. Using common, everyday items like water bottles, cups, and bags to represent natural features reflects the reality that these items will eventually degrade and imped themselves into our environment.

By understanding the long-term effect our simple actions can have, we can begin to make a collective effort to better our world. Simple actions such as wearing organic materials, air-drying clothing, avoiding single-use bags and bottles can help limit microplastic production on an individual level. However, we do not have to stop with personal changes. Express your support for politicians and legislation that curbs the usage of single use plastics, such as the plastic bag ban in Albuquerque. Our river is arguably our most precious resource and we must come together to make sure to protect it.