Every day as activists, we struggle to make our causes appealing to the masses. Saving puppies from the side of the road is heartwarming and rescuing a baby rhino from the poachers who murdered his mother is inspiring. While these impressive rescues are important, the little things we do in our daily lives can also have a huge impact on conservation efforts. Bringing your own water bottle to work or your own bag to the grocery store doesn’t sound as exciting as saving an elephant – but it should. Benjamin Von Wong, an artist focused on conservation issues, is making plastic pollution exciting with his newest series of photographs.

Von Wong was terrified when he learned there would be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. So he started to wonder, “how do you get people to talk about something that is ordinary, ugly, and boring?” The answer he landed on? Mermaids … obviously. He organized dozens of volunteers to help him collect and delaminate more than 10,000 plastic bottles and started to create his surreal vision. Von Wong wanted to humanize the very real danger that marine life is put in by our thoughtless use of plastic products and what better way to do this than with half-fish people trapped in a sea of plastic bottles. He was as excited about the project as we are and told the

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He organized dozens of volunteers to help him collect and delaminate more than 10,000 plastic bags and started to create his surreal vision. Von Wong wanted to humanize the very real danger marine life experiences as a result of our thoughtless use of plastic products – and what better way to do this than with half-fish people trapped in a sea of plastic bottles? He was as excited about the project as we are and told the CBC news, “How do you generate a conversation over stories people don’t want to talk about? I think art and beauty are the way to do that.” And these images are incredibly beautiful. So what should the conversation be?

Over the past 30 years, plastic production has increased by 620 percent but only 15 percent of these plastics are recycled.

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A lot of these plastics make it into our waterways. We have put around 270 billion tons of plastic on the ocean’s surface alone.

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And we add 8.8 million tons of plastic waste to that number every year.

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Over 700 different species face extinction from to the hazards caused by plastic pollution: entanglement, ingestion, and toxicity.

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Von Wong hopes that these images will inspire people to start cutting back on plastics in their day to day lives. 

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So share these images with your friends, start a conversation with a stranger, and learn how you can cut down on plastic waste in your own life below. 

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You can help the marine life treated by plastic waste by signing Von Wong’s petition to reduce the amount of plastic you consume. You can also join One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign where we outline easy ways that you can help to #Crushplastic and save our oceans. Here are a few to start you out.

  1. Bring your own, reusable water bottle with you when you leave the house.
  2. Always bring your own bag with you to the grocery store and if you forget, go with a paper bag.
  3. Politely refuse plastic utensils and instead, bring your own from home

For more great tips check out the #CrushPlastic page here.

Image source: Benjamin Von Wong