ORLANDO, Fla. — As Floridians continue to endure one of its hottest summers in history, Julio Sanchez, better known as "Julsan," aspires to “save mother nature” by collecting trash throughout Central Florida and transforming it into three-dimensional canvases.
What You Need To Know
- According to the World Bank, “thousands of plastic shards are often found in the wider Caribbean waters, representing nearly 80% of the total litter"
- Of the 380 million tons of plastic that is produced every year, only half of it is created for single-use purposes and is then thrown away
- The Sunshine State “did not meet the 2016 interim goal of 60% and the recycling rate has continued to decline since that time,” the Florida Department of Environmental Protection states on its website
“I feel magnificent with the work I do because art is a power that God gives you and it’s a power you develop to create a good. If you can use your power to create a better good, that itself is a blessing,” the Dominican artist said.
Growing up in the Caribbean, Julsan took inspiration from the streets of Barahona, a province located on the southwestern part of the Dominican Republic that he says along with many other cities in Latin America suffer from massive littering.
According to the World Bank, “thousands of plastic shards are often found in the wider Caribbean waters, representing nearly 80% of the total litter.”
When compared to beaches throughout the world, at 2,014 items per kilometer, the amount of plastic found on Caribbean beaches exceeds the average litter found at beaches in different regions.
“At the moment in which you create something new out of something old, you find a phenomenal feeling of satisfaction knowing you were able to contribute to saving the world,” Julsan said.
Julsan, who moved to the U.S. in the early 2000s, said collecting trash throughout Central Florida has allowed him to find a safe-haven through art — one that has allowed him to decrease the approximate 8 million tons of plastic that end up in oceans every year.
According to Plastic Oceans, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to “foster sustainable communities worldwide” and end plastic pollution, of the 380 million tons of plastic that is produced every year, only half of it is created for single-use purposes and is then thrown away. Of the plastic that is used, less than 9 percent of it gets recycled.
“Converting (trash) into art is a satisfaction. It gives it a new message and gives the material a new purpose,” said Julsan, who wants to see a cleaner and more sustainable future.
Through the Energy, Climate Change and Economic Security Act of 2008, the Florida Legislature established a statewide weight-based recycling goal of 75% by 2020.
However, despite meeting its interim goals established for 2012 and 2014, the Sunshine State “did not meet the 2016 interim goal of 60% and the recycling rate has continued to decline since that time,” the Florida Department of Environmental Protection states on its website.
Julsan, who was welcomed to the art scene in Central Florida by The Osceola Center for the Arts in Kissimmee, believes trash should never trump the beauty of mother nature and takes the call to action personal as he wants to make sure he leaves a legacy behind that empowers future generations to give back.
“It’s an artistic concept, but at the same time, it’s an artistic obligation that I must use art as an opportunity to clean Earth and turn the trash I collect into art,” the 2011 Osceola Center for the Arts Mixed Media Winner told Spectrum News 13. “To leave an artistic legacy that has an important message and to save our planet — that to me is the biggest satisfaction and is why I do what I do.”