Plastic soup is contaminating our oceans. So much so that the European Union has just announced plans to introduce new laws on single-use plastic to reduce marine litter (27 March 2019). But, how many people have actually seen plastic soup? Not a lot. To date, our oceans have already been contaminated with 150 billion kilograms (165 million US tons) of plastic waste, and billions of kilos more are added every year. However as long as the problem is out of sight, it’s out of mind. This is exactly why Dopper, producer of reusable water bottles with a mission, wants to create awareness and change behavior by bringing people eye to eye with plastic soup.
The world’s very first Oceanic Plasticarium is literally bringing plastic soup to the people. The glass cube is a brand new museum piece, which contains 2,700 liters (713 gallons) of plastic soup, sampled directly from the Pacific Ocean, brought to the Institutes founded to educate people about the history of mankind and nature. Filling in a crucial – but missing – part of history.
“People often see plastic waste as such an overpowering problem, that feels like it’s too big to do anything about. Our goal with this project is to change that. We are encouraging everyone to take ownership. Plastic soup is something we have created together, and we’re all part of both the problem and the solution. By altering our behavior, together we can make single-use plastics a thing of the past. Our aim is to banish plastic soup to the history books. So that in the future, the only place you will ever be able to see it will be in museums like the Tropenmuseum,” says Merijn Everaarts, founder of Dopper and initiator of the Oceanic Plasticarium.
This unique museum piece is both disturbing and thought-provoking: allowing the public to get up close and personal to the heavily polluted water, with the aim to create awareness and a dialogue. The Oceanic Plasticarium aims to empower people, so that they can take ownership of their part in changing the tide against plastic pollution. The idea is to spark a conversation about plastic waste, which will ultimately lead to actual lifestyle changes.
The Tropenmuseum wasn’t randomly selected as the location for this unprecedented project. As a ‘museum of world cultures’, it is renowned for its unique collection and exhibitions that represent the riches of cultures far and wide. The plastic soup has been allocated a prominent, eye-catching location in the museum – right in the main hall and central point of the museum – and deservedly so.
After all, this is one of the most defining events in our recent history: distressing, controversial, and man-made. But contrary to the rest of the museum collection, this plastic soup isn’t a treasure to be admired. Instead, the goal is to make it history, by making it a part of history. Putting it where it belongs: in a museum.
Stijn Schoonderwoerd, director of the Tropenmuseum: “As a museum of world cultures, we want to contribute to a sense of global citizenship. Global citizens are people with a purpose, they are committed to making this world a better place. We feel that the Oceanic Plasticarium sends a strong message, and therefore we are proud to exhibit it in our museum.”
The plastic in the Oceanic Plasticarium was sourced from the Pacific Ocean by Greenpeace in 2018. The container measures 140 x 140 x 140 cm (55 x 55 x 55 inches) and holds 2,700 liters (713 gallons) of water. The coordinates 135°W 35°N refer to an area in the north central Pacific Ocean.
The Oceanic Plasticarium will remain on display in Amsterdam until mid-April, after which the installation will start an international tour.