As part of the kick-off event for Earthtober, attendees brought their non-recyclable plastic from home to create a pile on the courthouse steps to illustrate the problem of plastic pollution. Then the issue arose of what to do with all that plastic. The idea hatched that a life-sized whale sculpture be created and filled with the plastic waste to display the dangers of the contaminant to oceans and the planet.

At that moment, the Whale movement began. VMI engineer professor Jay Sullivan agreed to build a whale with the help of his first-year cadets. They created a wire replica of the 15-foot juvenile whale that washed up on the shores of the Philippines with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach.

The whale sculpture made its first migration from VMI to Bessie Weller Elementary School in Staunton. The students there learned about the issues of plastic pollution throughout the Whale’s week there, and, as a visual lesson, deposited their plastic waste into the whale. The Whale has visited many other area schools, as well as participating in the Christmas parades in Staunton and Waynesboro.        


Financially supported by Earth Day Network.