Back for a third year, the Beaches Go Green Octopus Garden in Jacksonville Beach, Florida aims to educate spectators on the plastic pollution crisis while simultaneously bringing holiday cheer. The holiday display is centered around an octopus that is more than 100 feet in width and made entirely from single-use plastics.

The statistics are staggering, with reportedly 500 billion plastic water bottles used each year, the mission of this display is to encourage consumers to think twice about purchasing single-use plastic products. Beaches Go Green volunteers spent hundreds of hours bringing this year’s display to life which also features smaller art installations created by local schools, including a shark and sea turtle exhibit.

We caught up with a father, daughter scuba diving duo who recently visited the Octopus Garden to get their take on the display. Matt Mailn and his fourteen-year-old daughter Madelyn Malin both shared that they’ve never seen anything like this before and were blown away by the lighted display. Matt specifically expressed that the signage throughout the Garden was particularly eye-opening. From an educational sign about how much plastic the average American uses (185 pounds per year) to a sign and display aimed to bring awareness to ghost nets — the newest exhibit incorporated in the 2020 display.

“As an avid fisherman, I thought that the “ghost net” display that shows animals caught in an abandoned net was so important. Reminding fishermen and women to be responsible with their gear, whether it’s nets, fishing lines, hooks, etc., it saves marine life and protects our oceans!” said Malin.

While his daughter’s biggest takeaway centered around the impacts of one person’s actions. “I learned a lot from this exhibit. I walked away with a completely different perspective on how plastics impact our planet because I realize how just one person’s use of these plastics continue to add up. I was shocked by the pure quantity of plastic used in the art and how if it was not re-used, it would be in landfills or oceans for another couple hundred years.” says fourteen-year-old Malin.

The Octopus Garden can be viewed nightly now through January 2, 2021. “This Octopus Garden is a labor of love and education for our community. We could not do without our partners and dedicated volunteers. We are especially grateful to Deck the Chairs for putting on this community-building, festive holiday event!” says Beaches Go Green Founder, Anne Marie Moquin.

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