In most places around the world – these things can’t be recycled, and they’re used for just minutes but take centuries to disappear. With hundreds of million of straws used every single day around the world, we wanted to intercept just a fraction of them to try and show how these tiny little things added up into a very big problem. My vision – was to take used straws – over one hundred thousand of them – collected, washed, organized and stuck onto pieces of recycled plastics to create a piece to ignite conversations about the plastic ocean that we’re currently creating. The result: a massive #strawpocalypse, represented by the parting of the plastic sea. Here’s how it all came together. This project began when Julia from Zero Waste Saigon heard about how I was converting trash into art and out of nowhere, reached out on facebook offering to help organize volunteers in clean-up efforts all across vietnam to collect straws. After weeks of hard work, we got even luckier. Starbucks Vietnam heard about our efforts and offered to put their resources at our disposal and set us up with daily collection points across various Starbucks all over Ho Chi Minh City. Things were getting really real, really fast and I still hadn’t figured out my final concept. One of my earlier ideas for example was to create a vortex of straws… And while it looked really cool from the front… from the sides, it kind of looked like an ice cream cone… or… a turd… And so after a few more iterations and brainstorm sessions with Suki, an escape room designer out of Serbia and Nick Moser a technical builder out of San Fransisco we finally came up with a brand new concept: THE PARTING OF THE PLASTIC SEA With more plastic than fish in the sea scheduled for 2050 The idea of representing the oceans saturated in plastics just felt like the right message. Only one problem – we still didn’t have a place for our 8m long installation to live. we desperately searched for someone that would give our crazy idea a home – and although most people said no – We finally got super lucky with Estella place, a brand new mall that just opened Who absolutley loved the environmental message and offered us a massive space in their main lobby for free. With all the logistical pieces falling into place, it was time to figure out what to do with the massive amount of straws that we had managed to collect – but first… we had to clean all them. Yep. Thats right. All 168,000 of them The German International School stepped in to offer us a space to work for a couple days – where we asked volunteers on facebook, instagram… and twitter! to come and help. And come they did – spending days washing, sorting and organizing the thousands and thousands of straws that were collected. Since the plan was to build the parting of the plastic sea – I recommended grouping our staws into a few different categories: blue/black and green for the waves, White for the foam, Orange/Yellow for the “sand”, Transparent straws for any transition points and Red… well I didn’t know what to do with the red ones because they were a little distracting. Parallel to all the cleaning, a friend of a friend called Fosha helped us convert our design from concept into reality – acting both as a translator and 3d expert. Working day and night, we built and assembled the pieces of wood into what I hoped would look like two massive waves. alright its 2:00 AM guys and we’ve our ribs set up as you can see. Theyre looking pretty amazing, its growing fast and its looking awesome From there, we only had a few steps remaining: Design the LED lights that would bring our structure to life and glueing straws to large panels of recovered plastic that could then be draped onto our structure. So weve built these sheets over the last couple days but the problem is that everytime we put these up A bunch of straws come falling down As the final pieces were added onto the structure and the lights
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switched on for the first time that’s when the true magic started to happen: families, children and couples stopping, taking the time to read the educational banners that we had left out and taking photographs to share the message with their friends. Ultimately, we all know that a piece of art alone can’t change the world… but just maybe it has the power to touch somebody and get them to start a conversation the next time they’re offered a straw by saying : “No thanks”. Because that little bit of nothing, can add up to a whole lot of something. Thank you guys so much for watching this video, on Monday we’ll be launching our big cinematic piece so if you enjoyed this so far please be sure to subscribe for the launch on: TheStrawpocalypse.com Also, if you know a company, institution or museum that might be interested in adopting our installation forever thats all 168,000 straws please let us know! Straws can’t really be recycled, and we would really love for this installation to live and fight on forever!