You probably know that plastic pollution is a big problem for the oceans. But most of us don’t see its detrimental effects and truly grasp just how dire the situation is.Single-use plastic is an epidemic that we’ve grown accustomed to in our culture—water bottles, takeout containers, bags—it’s hard to live without them. This convenience, however, also has grave consequences. According to Plastic Oceans, more than 8 million tons of plastic make their way into our ocean each year.
The statistics on plastic bags alone are jaw-dropping. Worldwide, 1 million bags are used every minute. A plastic bag has an average ‘life’ of 15 minutes before it becomes waste, and takes 1,000 years to decompose.
Raising Awareness Through Art
Keeping plastic pollution awareness in the public eye is important in the fight to reduce our waste. Greenpeace Philippines recently created a public art installation called Dead Whale that is hard to ignore – it’s a haunting reminder of the damage we inflict on the oceans and other living creatures. The organization constructed a 50-foot replica dead whale carcass that looks as though it has washed up on the shore. The body was formed out of plastic pollution and the creature is filled with bottles, containers, and all the other junk that makes its way into our waters.
The “beached” whale was positioned along the shoreline of Manila Bay over the course of five days. It’s a harrowing sight; at first glance, people didn’t realize that the sea creature was fake. It’s based on a real event, though; last year, a young 38-foot-long sperm whale died after it ingested a bevy of waste including fishnets, hooks, ropes, and steel. Biboy Royong, the creative director of the project, explained: “We based [Dead Whale‘s] shape, color, texture, size, and proportion on pictures of real beached whales. We even chose to show a decomposing whale so we played more with the textures on its skin using plastic trash we have collected. We wanted to surprise the community in the area. For it to work, we had to carefully craft a realistic dead whale.”
A Last Visual Impact
Greenpeace Philippines took foot traffic into consideration when installing the piece. They chose Manila Bay because of the people that traverse the location and pollute the land. “Art makes a better statement. Seeing the dangers that are happening to our environment through a dramatic visualization urges people more to act against it,” Royong said.
Sadness and shock are part of the viewing experience for Dead Whale, and its viscera will hopefully make a lasting visual impact for those who see it. “Listen to the dead whale’s wake-up call, look closer and see what plastic pollution does to the ocean,” Greenpeace Philippines said of the campaign in a Facebook post. “We hope that this installation encourages the public to take action and #RefusePlastic.”