Last week giant plastic six-pack rings strangled public sculptures around Vancouver. Initiated by the Plastic Pollution Coalition and developed by Vancouver-based ad agency Rethink, this stunt presented downtown commuters with visual protests against the mass consumption of single-use plastic.
“Nearly every plastic item ever created still exists, and has harmful effects on the environment, wildlife, and humans,” says Manuel Maqueda of the PPC. “Patches of plastic pollution currently cover millions of square miles of ocean in the North Pacific and North Atlantic. In the environment, plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that are ingested by wildlife and contaminate our food chain.”
According to Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, “…every second of every day in the United States, thousand people buy and open up a plastic bottle of commercially produced water, and every second of every day in the United States, a thousand plastic bottles are thrown away. Eighty-five million bottles a day. More than thirty billion bottles a year at a cost to consumers of tens of billions of dollars.” To put this into a more visual perspective, enough plastic bottles are discarded in the US alone every week to go around the planet 5 times.
Gasping at these atrocious numbers and digesting the Environmental Working Group’s discovery that we are all becoming full of the toxic chemicals from plastic we discard everyday, I’m hoping demonstrations like this and others continue littering the urban landscape. It should become common sense that there is no “away” in “throwaway,” especially when it comes to plastic. A plague of public protests refusing this disposable lifestyle needs to spread in every shape, size and manifestation until the masses realize the truths of what these objects and actions are mirroring. Then together we can expose the recycling myth, create solutions, and demand that businesses take responsibility for the end life of their products.
In echoing Tiana Uitto (author of Plastic Manners and coconspirator of this stunt), “We want to make a call to eliminate single-use plastics from the face of the planet” and “embrace a culture of sustainability.”
Visit The Province for local coverage of the protest. For more information on the harmful effects of plastic pollution and ways to become a part of the solution, visit Plastic Pollution Coalition’s site.