Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant Program's Straw Forward Art Installation on Display for a Limited Time at Carnegie Science Center

Sculpture represents the impact of plastic waste, pollution


A new, limited-time exhibit at Carnegie Science Center seeks to inspire meaningful dialogue around the global-scale issues of single-use plastic waste and plastic pollution. The Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program’s highly anticipated Straw Forward™art installation is now on display in the Science Center’s RiverView Café through Fri., Feb. 15, 2019. 

Straw Forward demonstrates a community-wide, collaborative effort to accelerate an important message about the global issue of plastic pollution—from a local perspective. In addition to plastic straws – more than 25,000 plastic straws were collected from 37 Pittsburgh-based restaurants, nonprofits, and businesses between June and October 2018 – the installation also includes discarded plastic-based items pulled from the banks of the Allegheny River with Allegheny CleanWays, yarn from First Mile (of Thread International) that was upcycled from plastic bottles saved by citizens in developing countries, and other repurposed materials from Construction Junction and the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse.

The concept, design, and construction of the installation was developed through a partnership with the creative team from Pittsburgh-based Shift Collaborative.

“We’re so excited to have Carnegie Science Center serve as the host location for the Straw Forward Art Installation,” says Rebecca Bykoski, Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant Program Manager. “We appreciate their collaboration and partnership in helping to engage the community and draw attention to these issues.” 

“Carnegie Science Center strives to foster a scientifically literate community through all of our exhibits, and this inventive take on highlighting the issue of plastic pollution is a great way to get our visitors thinking about the impact that plastic has on our environment,” said Carnegie Science Center Interim Director Jason Brown. “We’re honored to host this exhibit, and we look forward to the conversations the sculpture will spark among our visitors and in our community.”

In addition to seeing the sculpture, the public is invited to the Science Center’s Café Scientifiqueon Mon., Feb. 4 from 7–9 pm in the Science Stage. An abridged version of the documentary A Plastic Ocean will be screened, providing a deeper look into these issues on a global scale. A panel discussion with local experts will follow. 

Single-use plastic straws represent one small component of the negative ecological impact of plastic pollution and overuse, ranging from disposable items like take-out containers and water bottles, to beach toys and commercial plastic waste (e.g. barrels, fishing line/nets). Straws also represent a challenge in the waste stream as they cannot be recycled by traditional means. For plastics that aren’t disposed of responsibly or can’t be recycled, they continually break up over time, turning into tiny bits of microplastics that clog the bellies of marine life and possibly ending up in the food humans eat. 

Sustainable Pittsburgh and Carnegie Science Center recognize the importance of keeping the needs of the disability rights community in these conversations as plastic straws and other single-use plastics improve the livability and access for people living with certain disabilities and medical conditions. Best Buddies Pennsylvania is a partner of the Straw Forward project.

For photos of the sculpture or additional information, contact Manager of Marketing, Public Relations, and Social Media Nicole Chynoweth at 412.237.1537 or ChynowethN@CarnegieScienceCenter.