Facebook82Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by Thurston County Solid WasteThurston County students braided more than 9,000 plastic bags into rope that would become a large whale for the Procession of the Species.While Santa is out delivering presents Christmas Eve, TV viewers across America will find out if a life-size plastic whale sculpture created in Thurston County can make one whale of a journey safe and sound on A&E’s hit show “Shipping Wars.” The episode featuring the 32-foot long brainchild of local artist and environmental educator Carrie Ziegler premieres Tuesday, December 24 at 10:30 p.m. on A&E.More than a year ago, Ziegler conceived a plan to marry her artistic skills with her environmental education job by having Thurston County school children assist with the creation of a giant whale sculpture that would use plastic bags and other plastic waste. The large-scale art project was a way for kids to get a hands–on experience while learning about the harmful effects of plastic waste on the environment and wildlife.“Talking about the scale of plastic contamination in our environment and in our oceans can be a bit overwhelming. I didn’t want to leave these kids with a sense of hopelessness, I wanted them to remember what they learned with a positive attitude and I wanted them to feel like they had contributed to something special and had made a difference,” said Carrie Ziegler, Outreach and Education Specialist for the Thurston County Solid Waste Division. “So I came up with this large-scale sculpture idea—this giant whale is something special, something memorable, and the kids can point to it and say ‘I helped make that.’”By the time the plastic whale sculpture was completed earlier this spring, more than 800 youth in Thurston County had helped make the body, skin and skeleton of the 32-foot long whale out of plastic bags, plastic forks and cups, milk jugs, and Styrofoam. The skin required about 9,000 plastic bags that local youth braided into about 6,000 linear feet of plastic rope that was formed into a mat similar to a rag rug. The skin features a map of the Pacific Ocean with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch depicted in the middle.The giant whale floats through Olympia’s Procession of the Species.The finished whale sculpture was one of the feature floats at the annual Procession of the Species parade in Olympia on April 27. After migrating to The Washington Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Olympia and to the Thurston County Fair for display over the summer, the plastic whale went on tour with its message of environmental stewardship and waste reduction.To find out more about this sea mammal sculpture’s great land journey, tune in to A&E’s “Shipping Wars” on Christmas Eve at 10:30 p.m.Channel 52—Xfinity (Comcast) customersChannel 118—Dish Network customersChannel 265—DIRECTV customersFor more information about A&E’s “Shipping Wars” and the episode featuring the whale sculpture, go to www.aetv.com/shipping-wars/season-5/episode-8.For more information about the plastic bag whale sculpture, view the short video called “The Plastic Whale Project: a sensational cetacean” at http://bit.ly/130EMjN.