INSPIRE, PHOTOGRAPHY&PHOTOGRAPHERS

Stop the Strawpocalypse

Stop de Strawpocalypse by Von Wong

Welcome to the Strawpocalypse or “The Parting of the Plastic Sea”, an incredible installation made from 168,000 used plastic straws. 

Photographer Benjamin Von Wong has dedicated his career to create “over the top” images with a social message. Pushing his creative boundaries, he is able to spotlight environmental issues and raise awareness about the waste we produce and how we can make a difference. For his latest piece of art, he was inspired by the phrase, “It’s just one straw, said 8 billion people.”

Though plastic straws may seem like a drop in the bucket when thinking about plastic pollution, the truth is that they are nearly impossible to recycle.

The Plastic Pollution Coalition estimates that over 500 million plastic straws are used daily in the United States, with people coming to expect them at any cafe, restaurant, or coffee shop. But, as Von Wong points out, these straws are one of the easiest types of single-use plastics to refuse.

Wishing to show the public how small decisions can have a big impact, Von Wong set about creating his Strawpocalypse installation.

Rather than simply purchasing the more than 100,000 straws needed, he went the hard way. In collaboration with Zero Waste Saigon, Starbucks Vietnam, and hundreds of volunteers, he managed to gather 168,0000 plastic straws over the course of six months.

Stop de Strawpocalypse by Von Wong

It took us almost two weeks of work to clean, organize and prepare our straws to build “The Parting of the Plastic Sea”.

Stop de Strawpocalypse by Von Wong

Although this installation is made from straws, it isn’t just about straws. It’s about taking a first step towards paying attention to the plastic epidemic threatening the oceans we rely on.

Stop de Strawpocalypse by Von Wong

It’s just one straw, said 8 billion people.

To make his vision of the “parting of the plastic sea” come to life, volunteers spent two weeks washing and sorting the straws by color. Green, black, and blue straws were used for the body of the wave, white for the froth, and yellow for the sand. Transparent straws were also used for transition points and to fill in.

Making this a truly upcycled art installation, plastic bags, gathered by the team, acted both as supports for the straws and LED light diffusers. An assembly line came together to construct the complex structure, which ended up reaching a height of nearly 11 feet (3.3 meters). The straws were arranged like the strokes of a paintbrush along a skeleton, built by a set designer, giving the illusion of parting seas.

The full installation is now viewable at Estella Place in Ho Chi Minh until March 24, 2019.

By creating such a large sculptural piece, Von Wong hits the public with the reality of how one small straw can add up to a big problem.

Stop de Strawpocalypse by Von Wong

Take a look at the installation’s making off.