13 Mermaids Hate Plastic

Another artist that features the human impact in the environment is Von Wong. Von Wong is a multimedia artist that often focuses on humans impact on the ocean and the lives of animals in the ocean. He focuses on the impacts that humans are making on the environment and what will happen if we continue to have this much of an impact on the earth. Many of his projects are made from collected trash and recyclables in order to share the impact that humans and plastics are having on the earth.

One series that the artist created is called ‘Mermaids Hate Plastic.’ This series feature models dressed as mermaids that are drowning in a sea of plastic. For this project, Von Wong collected 10,000 plastic bottles from a waste plant. Ten thousand is the estimated number of plastic bottles that the average human will use by the age of 60. He then laid the plastic bottles out to look like water and show the negative effects that plastic has on oceans and the animals inside them. The mermaids in these photographs look like they are reaching out for help, to escape the clutches of the human creations.

Another piece that the photographer has featured a wave made of straws. The straws, collected from the streets of Vietnam and donated by individuals who have pledged to go plastic-free, create a large interactive wave that allows the viewer to walk through in order to feel the true effects of the plastic straws being dumped into the ocean every minute. Wong partners with companies that share the same beliefs that he does. While at the time of building the exhibition Starbucks was not free of plastic straws, after partnering with Wong they have set the goal of becoming plastic straw free by 2020. The installation is currently looking for a permanent home (as of 2019) to prevent the straws used from entering the ocean, adding to the problem.

Wong has many other pieces that feature the effects of humans on the environment, even some that show the future if humans keep contributing to climate change.

As the viewer walks through the installation they may have feelings of guilt or wanting to fix the situation. Vong Wong invokes the feeling of guilt in order to allow people to realize the true effects of the plastic that humans use every day. From plastic bottles to plastic straws and wrappers, Wong features these items in order to educate his viewers on the devastating effects of their everyday activities. His series challenges the viewer to change their habits. Wong has said that “change happens when individuals come together to fight for something they believe in”

Von Wong’s website features ways for viewers to help reduce the amount of plastic they use on a daily basis. This includes refusing plastics, not using straws, buying a reusable water bottle and even just education on the plastic and waste that humans are creating that have lasting impacts on the environment. Viewers can share the hashtags created for each piece and spread awareness about the effects we have on the environment.


  1. Jessica Stewart, Mermaid Swims in a Sea of 10,000 Bottles to Spotlight Plastic Pollution





 “Mermaid Swims in 10,000 Plastic Bottles.” Von Wong Blog. September 14, 2017. Accessed May 03, 2019. https://blog.vonwong.com/mermaidplastic/.

Habicht, Clemens, and Shovova. “Mermaid Swims in a Sea of 10,000 Bottles to Spotlight Plastic Pollution.” My Modern Met. December 13, 2016. Accessed May 03, 2019. https://mymodernmet.com/benjamin-von-wong-plastic-pollution-mermaids/.

“This Installation Is Made from 168,000 Plastic Straws.” Von Wong Blog. February 04, 2019. Accessed May 03, 2019. https://blog.vonwong.com/strawpocalypse/.



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