events waste

The Giant Plastic Tap at UNEP

It’s kind of got buried in the news, but as I mentioned last week, UNEP are meeting in Nairobi at the moment. Among other things, they will be beginning discussions on a global plastics treaty. And to get them thinking, arriving delegates have been greeted by this striking work of art: a giant plastic tap.

There’s rather a nice story about this tap, which is why I wanted to share it – as well as the fantastic image. It’s the work of the artist and activist Benjamin Von Wong, in collaboration with communities in Nairobi.

Every piece of plastic in the installation was picked up in the district of Kibera in Nairobi, by a team of 60 women who had lost their jobs because the pandemic. Through the awareness raising created by the artwork, partner NGO the Human Needs Project hopes to make those jobs permanent as part of a clean-up and recycling business in the area.

The tap makes an important point to delegates. Too much discussion around plastic waste focuses on recycling, when the more obvious solutions are further up the chain – slowing the production of plastic in the first place. The world is scrabbling to keep up with the flow of waste plastic. The real answer is to turn off the plastic tap.

The project is also supported by an online art collective called the Degenerate Trash Pandas. Having seeded the funding for the project, they are now leading the fundraising for ongoing work in Kibera. It involves digital artworks and an eco-friendly blockchain currency called SOL. I’m over 40 now and so I don’t understand this, but I do like the name Degenerate Trash Pandas.

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