If you’re aware of LADBible, the news and entertainment publication, then you might equate them with internet memes, irreverent videos, and a certain kind of humor that skirts the boundaries of good taste. What you might not equate them with is campaigning to raise awareness of important environmental issues. Yet that’s exactly what they’re doing right now, albeit by doing something that is a little tongue-in-cheek.
Teaming up with the Plastic Oceans Foundation charity, they have launched a campaign to have a patch of trash in the ocean be officially recognized as a country. The campaign is the brainchild of a pair of London-based advertising creatives, Michael Hughes and Dalatando Almeida. Together, the collective is lobbying the United Nations to have The Great Pacific Garbage Patch gain official country status, and as a result be able to push the governments of the world into helping clean it up. The garbage patch itself is a section of the North Pacific that has a very high density concentration of plastic pollution within it, often in the form of tiny microplastic particles that are notoriously troublesome to clean up.
Al Gore is Citizen One
In order to be recognized as a country there are four requirements to be fulfilled — a defined territory, a government, the ability to interact with other states, and a population. While it is difficult to define the border of the giant garbage patch, it is estimated to cover an area equivalent to the size of France. Forming a government and interacting with other states is achievable, and to solve the problem of population, a petition on Change.org was started to enable people to request citizenship. So far they have received 100,000 signatures, and the first citizen was none other than former US Vice President and renowned activist, Al Gore.
The country would be known as “The Trash Isles,” and along with designer Mario Kerkstra the group have even developed the passport, flag, currency and other assets of the country. Of course, it is unlikely that the campaign will succeed in convincing the United Nations to recognize the Trash Isles as the 196th country of the world, but it’s more about the journey than the final outcome.
While this approach might have an element of humor running through it, the issues being addressed are serious. The problem of plastic pollution in the oceans is on the rise, and ocean floor trash levels in the Arctic have skyrocketed in recent years. Any method of raising awareness of the problems caused by plastic should be lauded. Recently, Western Australia announced that it is banning the sale of single-use plastic bags in from July 2018 onward, and Costa Rica went a step further and announced a ban on all single-use plastics by 2021, which are all good steps toward reducing our reliance on plastic.