What’s in the sand?

If you look really hard you can see all sorts of things in sand. Inspired by the beautiful photos on http://sandgrains.com/Sand-Grains-Gallery.html I used a simple handheld microscope to look more closely at the plastic and sand samples I brought back to London.

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This set looks closely at the surfaces of plastic debri, like the surface of strange planets or expensive marbles. In some you can see the growth of coral, using the plastic as a scaffold.

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And finally my favourite image, a close up of one of the eighteen toothbrushes picked up along Kamilo beach in a half hour walk.

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a holiday destination?

If you ask many Hawaiian locals if they know Kamilo Point you mostly get a blank look. It’s not a tourist destination or a local hotspot. It’s also really hard to get to as its not on what you would call a road. You need a 4WD and a good sense of direction. We had both and still got lost and nearly stuck in the sand dunes.


Kamilo Point (or Trash beach, as it is known to the locals) is somewhere near the southern most point of the USA. It sits on Big Island, Hawaii nestled between the glassy green sands of the bay and the closest beach to the Pacific Garbage Patch. My general enthusiasm to go visit this beach brought me and the family to the beginning of a trip of a lifetime, a very bumpy journey along non-existent roads, and wrong turnings that led directly into the sea.

It was the beginning of an amazing experience, and one I am still working with. The work I am creating now is a response to this trip and I am really enjoying myself!

Kamilo beach



However, the subject is pretty depressing. The amount of plastic-to-sand ratio at Kamilo beach was really shocking, even to someone like me who has read a lot about plastic marine pollution. Every day the tide brings in a new load of tiny plastic pieces (here is a picture taken through a microscope of the sand particles and plastic pieces).

microscopic plastic and sand particles

So I picked up a lot of pieces and I sent them back home and now I am working on a show, but that’s another blog…


package of waste plastic

This year for Do The Green Thing and WWF’s Earth Day project I made some ‘Hawaiian Beach Lights’ Here’s the link; http://thomasmatthews.com/sophie-helps-launch-earth-hour-2015-for-wwf-and-do-the-green-thing/