If the average American uses 167 plastic bottles a year, in 60 years they will have used 10,000 plastic bottles.

Those same single use bottles will be around for your children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s children.

That’s a lot of bottles to be running away from, for a very very long time.

Running in just about 1/3rd of the 10,000 plastic bottles we had so far.
My girlfriend & I running through 20% of the 10000 bottles collected for this project

One of my greatest strength as an artist is that I am often too naive to realize how crazy my ideas are.

I dive into them head-first, rallying volunteers around a single cause. Thanks to the help of people who are often complete strangers at the beginning of my projects, what starts off as a small idea blossoms into a full blown production.

In this case, all I knew was that plastic pollution was a boring topic and I had to find a way to make it more interesting.

Alone, I was just a photographer – but thanks to the help of amazing individuals we transformed a lifeless pile of used garbage into a message: #MermaidsHatePlastic

Shot on the Sony A7r-ii, 16-35mm | ISO420, 27mm, f/4.0, 1/60 with Broncolor strobes

See how we did it:

Sign our pledge: www.mermaidshateplastic.com

10,000 bottles were borrowed from Tomra, a waste management centre.

Didier, a friend and producer called up a bunch of waste management centres to pitch the project. They even offered to drop them off for us in a 50 foot truck, no strings attached.

Photo by Anna Tenne

Over the course of a few days, a small army of volunteers came to help de-label, un-cap and clean our 10,000 bottles.

My friends and family came to help out along with complete strangers from my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. A few even came to help after the local news got wind of my shenanigans!

Photo: Tessa Levesque

We were also going to need a huge warehouse to experiment with different patterns.

I thought of  a friend whose wedding I shot that was in the flooring business and reached out to see if he might know someone. Turns out, he now owns his own company and loved the project so much that he offered to lend us warehouse space for the week.

360 BTS Shoot
Photo: Elie Babin

From there, all we needed was to add a mermaid.

My mom discovered Cynthia by mistake when she was hunting for a designer to help modify my sister’s wedding dress. When I saw her gorgeous silicon tails, I knew I had to work with her. She offered to design a tail specifically for this project.

Shot on the Sony A7r-ii, 16-35mm | ISO200, 21mm, f/4.0, 1/60 with Broncolor strobes

The camera was suspended by a professional using a system of pulleys and plywood

Guillaume Briand, a professional rigger and good friend helped rig up my camera saving me the trouble of trying to find a cherry picker.

Photo: Elie Babin

And controlled via iPad, while being connected to a 52″ TV borrowed from Costco

Sony mirrorless cameras can be controlled by a free app called Play Memories. Though super handy, it would take approximately 6 seconds to take each photo.

Photo: Teny Sarkissian

We spent a full day just to experiment with different plastic bottle configurations

Allison, a painter, spent a full day with me experimenting with different bottle configurations and we came up with the idea of designing a fake beach using flooring lent to us by Power Dekor

Shot on the Sony A7r-ii, 16-35mm | ISO500, 18mm, f/4.0, 1/60 with Broncolor strobes

Between each shot, hair, bodypaint and mermaid tail had to be tweaked to perfection

Tamsen, a professional makeup and hair stylist teamed up with Jean-Michel an airbrush artist to make sure our model Clara, had the proper iridescence and shine.

Photo Mathieu Harvey (left) and Paul Kepron (Right)

Until we reached the final shot hoping that the results would ignite a conversation and encourage people to reach out and take the pledge to re-use. 


Shot on the Sony A7r-ii, 16-35mm | ISO250, 21mm, f/4.0, 1/60 with Broncolor strobes

Change happens when individuals come together to fight for something they believe in. Will you join us? 

Photo: Martin Lacasse

PS. Want these in print to spread the word? I have them available for sale, AT COST. Check it out.

Media Requests

  • Feel free to quote and publish the photos on your online publication (please credit & link back to the original). High-rez press images, BTS and more can be found in this dropbox link.
  • Part 1 and Part 2 BTS videos with more information on the project can be found on my youtube channel.
  • Commercial requests and rights: suzy@suzyjohnston.com
  • Interview requests: ben@vonwong.com

Thoughts and rambling

3 things you can do today to make a difference.

  • Buy yourself a re-usable bottle today. It doesn’t have to be expensive, look out for simple innovative young companies like Refillit!
  • Make a commitment to consider whether to accept the next piece of plastic that is offered to you, whether it’s a plastic bag, a straw or a microscopic water-bottle in your uber ride.
  • Learn a few horrible facts about plastic pollution and tell your friends over the next drink or coffee you get!


Photography: Von Wong
Cinematography: Jordan Hamelin
Bottles: Tomra Systems ASA
Warehouse: Power Dekor
Model: Clara Cloutier
Makeup: Tamsen Rae
Bodypaint: Jean-Michel Cholett
Mermaid Tail: Cynthia Brault
Rigging: Guillaume Briand
Producer: Didier Kaade
Patterns: Allison Blue Visionary Art

Test model: Marielle Chartier Hénault

Jessika Chiasson, Élizabeth Lily Létourneau, Martin Perreault, Lili Yip, Anna Tenne, Yanik Chauvin, Allison Blue, Emmanuelle Néron, Laura Luu, Tout Yang, Albert B. Ross, Dominique Pepin, Paul Kepron, Teny Sarkissian, Mélanie Guertin, Tessa Levesque, Isabelle Pilette, Martin Jack Lacasse, Taline Nalbandian, Hai Nguyen, Élie Babin, Jeanette Wg, Sing Wong, Roxanne Maïté Nault, Amy Jessica Pilette, Jerry Zhu, Renaud Delaquis, Arielle Vary, Lucie Doyle, Ricky Cheng, Guildo Gagnon, Caroline lemlin, Pierre Larin, Robert Wong, Ting Huong Hua, Alex Decarie, Mylene Tat, Alex Gaipo