15 seconds: That's how long it takes for this pile of garbage to enter the world's oceans. This is truly incredible, given that this process is going on 24/7/365.
The Plastic Garbage Project was born in 2009 when this ecological nightmare first became public. Still today, it is a lesser known fact that there is a gigantic garbage patch floating in the Pacific ocean.
Due to a no wind zone, this apocalyptic mass of small plastic particles keeps spinning in place endlessly. So basically, any piece of garbage entering the sea from the coasts of China, Korea, Japan, Russia, Canada and the US will ultimately end up there.
Now through September 23, 2012, the Museum für Gestaltung in Zürich is displaying plastic debris collected from the Pacific near Hawaii, the North Sea and the Baltic. The sheer amount of garbage in the center of the exhibit helps to put this ecological disaster into focus.
Meanwhile, the educational section of this exhibition portrays the dangers of microplastics. These are tiny, poisonous particles that accumulate in animals' systems over time. Also, some animals will repurpose larger plastics into floating devices, settling 1000's of miles away as invasive creatures.
You may ask why the problem of ocean pollution is on exhibit in a landlocked country like Switzerland. According to the museum's curator, 80% of plastic debris in the world's oceans originates in places far away from the sea...
The museum has a line-up of interactive workshops for kids and adults to discover how society uses plastic. My favorite is a design workshop to make your own iPad case from recyclables!
So the next time you plan a summer BBQ, buy lunch for take-out or shop for a toy, think about the available alternatives:
- Use dishes and glasses instead of plastic plates and styrofoam cups
- Avoid food which is packaged in plastic and use paper instead of plastic bags
- Invest in more durable toys made from wood or leather as opposed to (oftentimes toxic) plastics
Plastic Garbage Project
Museum für Gestaltung, Ausstellungsstrasse 60, Zürich
July 4 - Sept 23, 2012