Turn Off The Plastic Tap is a global campaign started by artist and activist, Benjamin Von Wong, in collaboration with the Canadian Embassy in France, environmental groups and photography influencers around the world. The purpose is to bring awareness and inspire action towards reducing plastic pollution.
On his blog, Von Wong shares a troubling statistic from Oceanic Global:
Single-use plastic consumption has gone up by 250-300% during the pandemic.
Plastics can be a boring topic and we often tune it out, accepting plastics as a normal part of our lives. This campaign hopes to bring awareness towards the threat of plastic pollution to air quality, marine/freshwater environments, and human health, inspiring and empowering people to rethink plastic use and make a difference and help Turn Off The Plastic Tap.
Von Wong and his team of volunteers constructed a GIANT three-story plastic tap using reclaimed materials and donated plastic waste. The purpose was to remind governments, the general public, and corporations that the global plastic problem was getting worse, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Once the giant plastic tap was constructed it was photographed in various environments – the playground, at a landfill, by the beach, at a recycling facility, and at a shipping container park. The installation is then being shipped to Paris where it will be displayed in collaboration with the Canadian Embassy in Paris to mark the launch of the global campaign. During the launch, Photoshop influencers and experts will also release composite images they have created using the Giant Plastic Tap.
When asked if I would participate by creating a composite photograph to help launch the campaign I didn’t hesitate to jump on board. For far too long I have sat on the sidelines. I knew that plastics were not good for the environment but until I started digging deeper into the facts I was unaware of how big of a problem plastic waste had become. Meanwhile, the amount of plastic pollution is building up and the industries that contribute to it continue to churn out plastics at an alarming rate – harming animals, humans, and the environments where they live.
Plastics in our Marine & Freshwater Environments
A full truckload of plastic ends up in the ocean every minute! –
Plastics are being dumped into marine environments in massive amounts. It often seems so overwhelming to tackle this problem as an individual, but time is running out and we all need to help. Individuals, governments, and corporations need to work together to make a real difference and help save these fragile ecosystems.
My original concept was to photograph my daughter, Jessica, wading out into the water surrounded by floating plastic. I wanted to use a young model for this image because it is our children and grandchildren who will have to live with the environmental consequences of plastic pollution.
When we arrived at the beach the waves were crashing in and it was nearly impossible to control the armful of plastic we had gathered and tied together to ensure the plastics wouldn’t float off into the lake. As the plastic became wet we were astonished at how HEAVY it became. Trying to pull the plastic bundle from the water’s surface was an almost impossible task. That’s when it really sank in – how HARD it is to remove the plastic from marine environments once is flows in. Jessica came up with the idea of showing how hard it is for just one person to take on this task on their own.
Being the model in this photo allowed me to understand just how difficult it is and would be to remove all the plastic from the earth. As I struggled to pull the plastic out of the water it made me think… I want the world I live in to be a clean and healthy environment. I thought of ways I can help reduce the amount of plastic being put into the world, but out of all the things I came up with it came down to one thing. Even if I do my best the reduce my plastic consumption it won’t really make a difference. We need to all come together as citizens of this earth to save our planet. So as a 14-year-old worried for her future on this earth… I call on YOU to help me and so many others around the world reduce plastic consumption and save our planet for the future generations. – Jessica Lee
We photographed several quick images of her in the water with the plastic and I later combined them with the stock image of the Giant Plastic Tap to illustrate how impossible it would be for one person to remove the plastic pollution from the lake on their own. The clock and sunset represent a sense of urgency. There is still time to take action, and if we stop the flow of plastic into our marine and freshwater environments now, there is hope for our future generations.
Plastics used in packaging
Although we try to shop locally as much as possible, during the pandemic our family began using online shopping for our purchases rather than risk exposure to the Covid-19 virus. The pile of cardboard and plastic waste from the packaging accumulated quickly.
The second image I created as part of the #TurnOffThePlasticTap project was inspired by Oceana’s campaign asking Amazon to use plastic-free packaging. Oceana estimated that in one year over 22 MILLION pounds (10 million kg) of plastic packaging from Amazon ended up in global freshwater and marine ecosystems as pollution. Amazon responded to Oceana’s report by stating their estimates were not accurate, however, has not shared its’ official plastics data.
Read Oceana’s report on the use of plastic packaging by Amazon and take action by requesting plastic-free packaging choices, sign the petition, and post your plastic packaging on social media with the hashtag #PlasticFreeAmazon and tagging @Amazon and @Oceana.
PLASTIC POLLUTION IS ONE OF THE GREATEST THREATS TO THE ENVIRONMENT
How can you help turn off the plastic tap?
- There are two ways you can win prizes:
Spread the word and Create your own image using the Giant Plastic Tap, or any of these 14 actions here
Help spread awareness, support environmental partners and take any or all of these 16 actions here
- Avoid single use plastics whenever possible and use a reusable bottle for your water.
- Make a commitment to question and reject plastics that are given to you in packaging of food, goods ordered online and items purchased at stores.
- Learn the facts about plastics and share with your friends and family.
- Explore how environmental groups are taking action to help Turn Off The Plastic Tap. You can view their Calls to Action here.