With microplastics polluting the food chain and increasing numbers of marine species facing endangerment, the world's ocean plastic issue is more urgent than ever. To push the issue, Greenpeace Philippines used art to make a bold statement about the pollution issues facing local communities. Seeking to capture the public's attention, a nearly 50-foot-long blue whale was beached just south of Manila. But, it was no ordinary whale; it was actually a massive installation created from ocean plastic.
Greenpeace notes that though the Philippines has made steps to address plastic pollution through legislation, the reality is that the country has ranked as the third highest contributor of plastic waste in the ocean for many years. Mirroring the findings of real beached whales, the sculpture's stomach is filled with a mix of plastic bags, plastic containers, bottles, and other waste collected from the ocean.
In fact, the entire replica was created from ocean plastic. The provocative piece of activist art was a call for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to step up and implement measures to curb plastic pollution in an effort to stop environmental degradation.
“The ASEAN region's contribution to plastic pollution in the oceans cannot be ignored and is already way beyond alarming. We are asking the ASEAN membership to take this issue with a sense of urgency and demand that our leaders initiate bold steps to address plastics pollution through regional cooperation, exacting corporate responsibility, and massive public education,” said Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines.
As the images of the plastic beached whale went viral, Greenpeace's initiative spread far beyond Southeast Asia. The photographs are yet another reminder that we cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to demanding action to stop plastic pollution.