SURFSIDE, Fla. – Rodrigo Butori is fishing. Not for fish, for plastic.
“I call it plastic fishing,” he says.
Like so many all over the world, worried about the planet’s growing plastic crisis, with grim predictions of there being more plastic than fish in the ocean by weight just 30 years from now, Butori wants to wake people up.
So the Brazil native took to the sands of his adoptive home in Surfside to clean up all the plastic littering the shore. And that’s when he had his a-ha moment.
“I started collecting the plastic at this beach over here and making little fish with it, as a statement,” he says. “The ocean and the sea is for fish not for plastic.”
Instinctively, the professional ad executive took a picture of it, posted it on Instagram, not knowing that a global movement was about to explode.
“I started with this one post,” Butori says. “And I said, OK, there’s something cool with this. Second post, third post I started calling it Plastic Fisherman. It started developing.
“The beach, the water and the ocean has always been a gigantic part of my life,” he adds. “Diving, fishing, I surfed all over the world. So, the ocean gave me so much, I had this bug saying I you gotta do something.”
His first post was back in February 2020. Now, his Plastic Fisherman page has spawned accounts all over the world, from Germany to Japan to Brazil.
There is now a fleet of fishermen all over the world, picking up plastic bits from our beaches, creating art, and then properly throwing it away.
“Make a fish, take a picture of that, share on Instagram and invite others to do the same,” Butori says.
He invites everyone to use the hashtag #plasticfishing so he can repost on his Instagram page. It’s a fun way to solve a serious problem, turning a moral obligation into a playful activity.
“If everybody can do that, we could have something,” Butori says. “That’s the goal. That’s what we’re trying to do here.”
The sad truth is that there is an over-abundance of material, schools of plastic fish swarming our beaches, just waiting to be assembled.
The world is dumping 18 billion pounds of plastic into the ocean every year, the equivalent of a garbage truck dumping a load of plastic into the sea every minute of the day. And the world’s plastic production is expected to quadruple by 2030.
“It’s all about volume,” Butori says of the Plastic Fisherman movement. “So the more people that do it, the more plastic that is removed, and the cleaner our beaches will be.
“This is our treasure and it’s a valuable treasure.”
Butori’s goal is to get plastic fishing into South Florida schools, knowing that if you engage children at a young age, they will grow up knowing better and make better choices. But really this is on all of us to dramatically reduce our plastic consumption. Stop using single-use plastics, don’t accept plastic shopping bags, stop using plastic water bottles. All of us can and must make a difference.
And remember to use the hashtag #plasticfishing when you create your own.