Summer Deals! Save up to 25%

The Treasure of Trash: An Interview with Activist Artist Ethan Estess

1/11/2022

Artist Ethan Estess at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort

Commercial fishing lines. Plastic bags. Microplastics.

Artist Ethan Estess transforms trash into its own kind of (eye-opening) treasure: large-scale art installations that incite awareness of the impact of today's growing ocean pollution across sea creatures and humans alike.

Ocean Roots

Raised on the shores of Santa Cruz, CA, the marine scientist first tried his hand at art after his hobby for making surfboards was banned at university. Ethan then combined his love for the ocean by repurposing trash from its waters.

"I realized I could tell stories through reclaimed materials and get people to care about the environment," he shared. "This was a big pivotal moment for me."

As Ethan believes, the role of the artist isn't to provide answers—but to get people to start asking questions.

"I like to try to draw people in with work that's visually engaging and 'beautiful,' and then upon closer inspection people are like, wait, What is that made of? Where did it come from? Why is that a problem? That kind of questioning and emotional whiplash—the reaction of, Oh it's beautiful, but also, Oh it's sad—that's my aesthetic and that juxtaposition of materials and beauty," Ethan said.

Artist Ethan Estess at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort

Falling in Love with Oahu

When he first came to Oahu, Ethan was like tourists—just a surfer enjoying the incomparable (and as he says humbling) waves. This changed when he decided to volunteer on a beach cleanup with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii while on a regular surf trip.

"Volunteering with thousands of people on these huge beach cleanups really opened my eyes to the scale of the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans," said Ethan. "I learned that if I threw away a bottle in Santa Cruz, with the currents there's a good chance it will end up on Hawaii's shores."

Now, one of the main statements Ethan hopes his work makes is around where our seafood comes from.

"When people think about plastic pollution, we think about straws and bottles and cigarette butts," he said. "Those are all major issues, but the other side is that a lot of debris comes from commercial fisheries that are operated irresponsibly. Once someone dives into learning more, they see that supporting local sustainable fisheries is the best option."

Making Waves at Outrigger Reef

Ethan's latest project, a mural called "Coming Home," was recently installed in the lobby of the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Using materials donated by the Center for Marine Debris Research and with support of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, the piece represents all that Ethan's work inspires. And it wouldn't be possible without support from the local Oahu community

"The number one thing I've learned about working in the islands is that it's not a big place, so you have to walk with respect," Ethan shared. "It's crazy how supportive people have been—and that something as simple as volunteering with a local nonprofit while here as a tourist opened me up to this issue. And now I have friends on Oahu than i do in California."

Follow in Ethan's Footsteps

Make it a fun and meaningful adventure by doing your own "volunteer vacay" with an opportunity like Outrigger's Malama Hawaii Experience, which lets guests get a 3rd night free or volunteer with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. Check out other art at Outrigger resorts like Love & Aloha or the Goddess of the Sea, or the varied exhibits at The Bishop Museum (where Ethan had a prior installation, The Plastic-free Pipeline). Book your stay for an art (and activism) filled vacation soon!


Subscribe and Keep Up With The Latest Posts

  • 1
    Select Your Destination
change
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort | Hawaii
  • Home of Hawaiian Music, Kani Ka Pila Grille
  • Renovated modern guest rooms
  • Immersive cultural activities
  • Voyager 47 Club Lounge
Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Hawaii’s first and only craft hotel
  • Home of The Beachcomber Originals
  • Hawaiian Aroma Caffe, Waikiki’s most Instagrammed coffee shop
  • Island’s longest bar at Maui Brewing Co
Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort | Hawaii
  • Beachfront location
  • Home of Duke’s Waikiki
  • Hawaii’s best live music venue, Blue Note Hawaii
  • Voyager 47 Club Lounge
Waikiki Malia by Outrigger |Hawaii
  • Intimate retreat for adventure seekers
  • Easy access to Waikiki Beach
  • Choice for value-minded families and groups
  • Spacious guest rooms and studios
  • Offering connecting rooms and kitchenettes
OHANA Waikiki East by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Spacious guest rooms with kitchenettes
  • Ideal for large groups or families
  • Steps to Waikiki Beach and International Market Place
  • Onsite restaurants – Appetito Craft Pizza & Wine Bar and Tanaka of Tokyo
Airport Honolulu Hotel | Hawaii
  • Only half a mile from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
  • Pet friendly
  • Convenient for business travelJust minutes from Pearl Harbor
Waikiki Shore by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Only resort condo directly on Waikiki Beach
  • Sweeping panoramic ocean views
  • Family friendly
  • Perfect for extended stays
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Regency on Beachwalk Waikiki by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Intimate, boutique style condo resort
  • Situated in the Waikiki Beach Walk shopping and dining district
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Honua Kai Resort & Spa | Maui
  • 38 tropical beachfront acres
  • 3-acre aquatic playground
  • AAA Four Diamond Award accredited
  • Luxury, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suites on Kaanapali Beach
The Kapalua Villas Maui | Hawaii
  • Located on 22,000-acre Kapalua Resort
  • Choose from 3 beaches and 11 restaurants
  • Ocean and golf room views
  • Offering two magnificent golf courses
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Palms at Wailea Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Located within the world-famous Wailea Resort community
  • A short drive from the Shops at Wailea and beaches
  • Near Wailea’s most renowned restaurants
Royal Kahana Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Ocean view of Molokai and Lanai
  • Boasts oceanfront pool
  • Private lanai
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Kaanapali Maui at the Eldorado by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Fronts the fairways of Kaanapali Beach Resort
  • Short walk from Whalers Village
  • Featuring three swimming pools
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Aina Nalu Lahaina by Outrigger | Maui
  • Boutique-style condos in heart of Lahaina
  • Two blocks away from Front Street
  • Walking distance to shops and restaurants
Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Offering stunning views of Lanai and Molokai
  • Newly renovated condos
  • Oceanfront on property dining at the Gazebo Restaurant
Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa Kauai by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Heated river pool running through two-acre property
  • Features flumed water slides
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Kiahuna Plantation Resort Kauai by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Cottage-style beachfront condos
  • Complimentary access to Poipu Athletic Club
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Lae Nani Resort Kauai | Hawaii
  • Oceanfront condos
  • Includes an ocean pool within a natural stone breakwater
  • Adjacent to the Coconut MarketPlace
Welcome to Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa
Watch the majestic manta rays that swim through Keauhou Bay. Or spend your day relaxing at the spa. It all starts here, on Hawaii Island.
Fairway Villa Waikoloa by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Guests treated to infinity pool and lava rock whirlpool
  • Surrounded by Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed golf course
  • Selection of on property dining options
Kohala Coast Vacation Rentals by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Five distinct properties to choose from
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
  • Close to upscale King’s Shops and Queen’s Market Place
  • Golf at Beach Course
Kanaloa at Kona by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Set on 18 oceanfront acres
  • Boasts 3 swimming pools and 2 tennis courts
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Royal Sea Cliff Kona by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Set on a lava rock bluff
  • Panoramic views of the Kona coast
  • 5-minute drive to restaurants and shops
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Castaway Island, Fiji Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
  • Beachfront bures
  • Complimentary beach services
  • Kava ceremony welcomes guests
  • Wood-carving guest activity
  • Enjoy Meke traditional song and dance
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
  • Beachfront bures
  • Offering Meimei nanny service
  • Talai butler service available
  • Named #1 Family Resort
  • Amazing firewalking ceremony
  • Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
    • Luxury beachfront suites
    • Mauritian Rum tasting experience
    • Dance to Sega music
    • Relax on private beach
    • Complimentary kid’s club
    Evening at Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort
    • Located beachfront on Lamai Beach
    • 2 swimming pools
    • Fitness center
    • Restaurants and in-room dining
    • 3 meeting rooms
    Garden Suite - living area | Outrigger Khao Lak Beach Resort
    • Located beachfront on Bangsak Beach
    • Swimming pool
    • Fitness center
    • Restaurants and in-room dining
    • 3 meeting rooms
    Plunge Pool Suite | Outrigger Surin Beach Resort
    • Located on Surin Beach
    • Boutique resort
    • 2 swimming pools
    • Restaurant and in-room dining
    Aerial View | Outrigger Maldives Maafushivaru Resort
    • Luxury resort in the Maldives
    • Choose from beachfront villas or over-water villas
    • Numerous dining options, including our signature restaurant Moodhu Grill
    • Fully equipped PADI and SSI dive center
    Waikiki Beach | Hawaii
    • Famous for Waikiki Beach
    • Hike Diamond Head Crater
    • Take a historical journey at Pearl Harbor
    • Birthplace of legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku
    • Home to Iolani Palace, US’s only royal place
    Experience a gorgeous Maui sunset
    • Voted “Best Island in the US”
    • Home to Haleakala volcano
    • Famed for whale watching during the winter months
    • Famous scenic stretch road to Hana
    • Mile long of sandy shore at Kaanapali Beach
    Beaches of Kauai | Hawaii
    • Nicknamed the Garden Island
    • Known for lush valleys, waterfalls and hiking trails
    • Has more beaches than any other Hawaiian Island
    • Most hiking trails than an other Hawaiian Island
    • Largest coffee plantation in the US
    Hawaii Island (Big Island)
    • Often referred to as the “Big Island”
    • Kilauea volcano is the most active and largest in the world
    • Known for black sand beaches
    • Grows most of the world’s macadamia nuts
    • Home to some of the world’s largest telescopes
    Aerial view | Castaway Island Fiji
    • Beachfront bures
    • Authentic cultural experiences
    • Family-friendly accommodations
    • Beach & water activities
    Outrigger Thailand | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
    • Accommodations in Koh Samui, PhangNga and Surin Phuket
    • Exotic cuisine featuring aromatic spices and fresh ingredient
    • More than 40,000 temples throughout the country
    • Unique variety of wildlife and nature
    • 2
      Select Your Stay Dates
    • 3
      Choose Rooms & Guests
    Adults
    Children
    Rooms
    Apply A Special Rate
    Oh snap! It looks like the rate you selected is not available.
    Your Selection Has Been Applied
    Your Summary
    Back to Top