Max Romey was hired to join a marine debris crew in 2015, to clean up wreckage from the Tohoku tsunami. An aspiring filmmaker at the time, Max and friends showed up ready to film a documentary. It didn’t turn out that way. Most of the team were shocked by their experience. Though the cleanup expedition was success, the complicated relationship between humans and plastic derailed the story. At least at the time. Now, as Ocean Plastics Recovery Project's chief storyteller, Max has found his voice.
"Five years ago I returned from an ocean plastics clean-up on the remote shores of Kayak Island in Alaska. I wanted to share about the amount of marine debris and the solutions to address this problem, but the more I looked into it the more overwhelming and complex the issue became for me. This slow-moving tsunami of plastic sat in the back of my head until I returned home and had time to look at this issue in a new light. I still find marine debris overwhelming and complex but sharing the big picture helps me see the ways amazing people from all over could come together to find solutions." - Max Romey
With his team lead by the @oceanplasticsrecovery project, Max and co. tried to pick up as many of the big pieces as they could before they were shredded into fine plastic dust and imbedded into the Alaskan environment.
There were scientist, engineers, economists, politicians, entrepreneurs and Max; "an out of place watercolor painter sketching trash in the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen. I felt totally hopeless. No matter how much we picked up, it would just keep washing up from elsewhere, like a slow motion oil spill. How could my sketch make any difference against a tsunami of plastic."
But no matter how bleak it looked to Max, the work of the people around him, all working toward the same goal from different angles made things feel a little more possible. By the end of the trip the crew had a hull full of hundreds of pounds of ocean plastics and Max had a sketchbook full of ideas. This lead to a short film, which has circled the globe, sharing a small story about our big issue.
"These big environmental issues might feel hopeless, but they are not meant to tackle alone and the solutions require a part from everyone. Even if that part is sketching trash in the most beautiful spot on earth," says Max.
Thanks to everyone working on their part, and those who inspire others to try and make a difference.
Find out more about the Alaskan clean up at: https://oceanplasticsrecovery.com/
"This is how much ocean plastic I found on 100 feet of Alaskan coastline in Katmai. Plastics that washed up from all over the world. From Thailand to Seattle, China to Chile. Piled up on our remote shores in Alaska which is slowly grinding them into micro plastics with our winter storms."
We are excited to introduce Anchorage-based artist Max Romey's watercolor Marine Debris Greeting Cards and Art Prints to our webshop. 10% of all profits go to the Ocean Plastics Recovery Project and tackling Alaska's Marine Debris issue for a healthy ocean. Follow Max's storytelling through video and illustrations at Max Romey Productions.