Photographer Benjamin Von Wong, with his a focus on conservation and social impact projects, creates artwork that is designed to go viral and to drive conversation. For his latest project, Strawpocalypse, the Vietnam-based photographer gathered 168,000 plastic straws to create an art installation that represents the parting of the sea which reveals the plastics hiding within.
It is estimated that as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches. In the US alone, an estimated 500 million straws are used every single day. In the UK, at least 4.4 billion straws are estimated to be thrown away annually.
Benjamin Von Wong points out that straws are one of the easiest types of single-use plastics to refuse. The Vietnam-based photographer intends that Strawpocalypse, which is currently on display at Estella Place in Ho Chi Minh City until 24 March, will encourage people to turn down their next straw.
Benjamin Von Wong said: “With a truckload of plastic flowing into the ocean every 60 seconds, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – but I’ve always believed that its less about what we can’t do, and more about what we can do – even if it’s something as small as saying ‘No Straw please’.”
To make the awareness raising installation, Benjamin Von Wong teamed up with Zero Waste Saigon, Starbucks Vietnam and hundreds of volunteers – spending over 6 months gathering a total of 168,000 straws to bring the project to life.
The “parting of the sea” effect was created by using green, black, and blue straws 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.
Plastic bags, which were also gathered by Benjamin Von Wong and his team, acted both as supports for the straws and LED light diffusers. The complex structure reaches a height of nearly 11 feet (3.3 metres).
Benjamin Von Wong added: “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.
“If things don’t change by the year 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the sea. While statistics like that can appear daunting and impossible to fight against, it all starts with small simple actions.”
Images: © Benjamin Von Wong
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea