Every single day, millions of plastic takeaway cups are used in food centers across the world. That has become so commonplace that we don't even think twice about it.
To help start that conversation, the artist Benjamin Von Wong decided to create an art piece made from 18,000 plastic cups collected over the course of just a day and a half. These cups, collected from two dozen hawker centers across Singapore had to then be cleaned, arranged and assembled into an art installation with the "Plastikophobia".
Although the word "Plastikophobia" doesn't officially exist in any dictionary, Von Wong and his team felt like it represented how they felt about single-use plastics – an extreme aversion to it.
Hoping to draw a connection between how the plastics that we consume on land inevitably flow into the ocean, they decided to create the illusion of a diver swimming in an ocean full of plastic.
"When Starbucks announced that they were removing straws from their stores, we designed the Strawpocalypse out of 168,000 straws collected off the streets to explain why." – Benjamin Von Wong
"It's just one straw, said 8 billion people." Sounds like a cliche little quote – but there is a lot of truth in it. Straws are not recycled in most cases. They're also one of the easiest products to turn down at a bar, cafe or restaurant.
For his project, Benjamin Von Wong wanted to encourage people to turn down their next straw by creating a "strawpocalypse". The result was a 3.3m (10 ft+) tall art installation representing the parting of the sea to reveal the plastics hiding within.
Although the installation is made from straws, it isn't just about straws. It's about taking a first step towards paying attention to the problem threatening the oceans we rely on.
If things don't change by the year 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the sea. While statistics like that can appear daunting and impossible to fight against, it all starts with small simple actions.
"When TOMRA wanted to make recycling interesting, we created a mermaid drowning in a sea of 10,000 plastic bottles." – Benjamin Von Wong
Worldwide, nearly 500 billion plastic bottles are sold every year – that's no less than 1 million every minute! Only 7 percent of those get recycled.
Those are shocking numbers, but Benjamin Von Wong knew he wanted to make the problem more interesting somehow to draw attention to it.
For his project, he borrowed 10,000 bottles from TOMRA Recycling. On his own, he was just a photographer – but thanks to the help of many supporters, he turned this lifeless pile of used trash into a message: #MermaidsHatePlastic
Von Wong's hope: to spark a conversation about it and encourage people to take the pledge to reuse.
Why throw plastics into the ocean? Benjamin Von Wong und sein Team decided to throw an entire truckload of plastic into the ocean after they learned about this shocking statistic: "Every 60 seconds, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters the ocean."
In his project he wanted to illustrate how plastics inevitably flow from land into the sea, despite our best efforts to stop them.
The project was supported by Greenpeace Greece and local grass-root organizations like Garbage Art Corfu. Ultimately they collected over ten thousand pieces of plastic!
Although they were able to remove the plastics that they put in, the same can't be said for what is currently happening every minute for the rest of our lives, and those of our children. #TruckloadOfPlastic is a call for responsibility – to consumers and to companies.