Ah, a day at the beach. Blue skies. A balmy breeze. Sand between your toes. And a seagull puking its brains out because it’s ingested far too many plastic bits.
Famed marine sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor created this figure as part of a larger installation meant to convey a sense of urgency about the amount of plastic debris in the world’s oceans.
Taylor partnered with the nonprofit Greenpeace to erect his disturbing installation in central London this week.
The full work, called “Plasticide,” sits outside of the Royal National Theater. In addition to the vomiting seagull, the installation depicts a family of four enjoying a regular day at the beach. There are several other birds in the piece, and several other colorful piles of plastic ― presumably the other birds have already puked and moved on to find more garbage.
Each year, 8 million tons of plastic wind up in the ocean. By 2050, we’ll have more plastic than fish in our waters. This will lead to a number of deleterious consequences, including birds mistaking plastic for edible food. Studies have found that 90 percent of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs.
Among the pieces of debris one of the “Plasticide” seagulls has vomited is a cap from a Coke bottle. Beverage companies are a huge contributor to the current marine crisis, a Greenpeace UK report released earlier this month concluded.
While the major soft drink companies have committed to producing bottles that are recyclable, that’s not actually a sustainable solution. Just because something’s recyclable, doesn’t mean the user is going to deposit it in the appropriate bin.
One solution the environmental group has proposed is for beverage companies to manufacture bottles made entirely from recycled plastic. This will help reduce the amount of wasted materials entering the oceans, and cut down on the amount of entirely new bottles being produced.
“The build-up of a man-made material like plastic in the vast expanse of our seemly untouched oceans is a visceral reminder of humankind’s devastating impact on our environment,” deCaires Taylor said in a statement.
“I want to bring this message back to home: our oceans, and the marine life which inhabits them, literally can’t stomach any more plastic,” he added.