Every single day, millions of plastic takeaway cups are used in food centers across the world.

Receiving a takeaway cup, even when dining in –  has become so commonplace that we don’t even think twice about how little sense it makes to use take-out cups within a dine-in setting.

To help start that conversation, we decided to make a selfie-ready art piece in Singapore made from 18,000 plastic cups collected over the course of just a day and a half. These cups, collected from two dozen hawker centers across Singapore had to then be cleaned, arranged and assembled into an art installation that we titled “Plastikophobia“.

Our piles of cleaned cups (left) and the final art installation (right)

Although the word “Plastikophobia” doesn’t officially exist in any dictionary (yet), we felt like it represented how we felt about single-use plastics, especially after spending over two 14-hour days cleaning the small mountain of dirty plastic cups that we had collected with the help of a small army of volunteers.

Our little cup-cleaning assembly line and the counting of dirty cups.

With the help of Joshua Goh and more than three dozen volunteers, we spent the rest of the week transforming these old dirty cups into a shiny crystal cave  – in the hopes of luring unsuspecting passersbys with the promise of a pretty selfie, only to to be overcome by a feeling of Plastikophobia – an extreme aversion to single-use plastics.

All 18,000 cups were used and converted into pieces of the #plastikophobia art installation at Josh’s “Imaginator Studios

With all the pieces assembled and in place, we put the installation to the test by combining a Broncolor Balloon Lamp with a contemporary dancer, Jialin Neo. With tiny LED fairly lights pulsing across the entire installation, we had to drag the shutter and put our flash on the lowest possible power setting to get the effect of a glowing earth surrounded by a sea of plastics.

This Earth Is Plastic – Sony A7r-ii | 12-24 f4 | ISO 400 | 12mm | 1/25 sec + Broncolor Balloon Lamp

Hoping to draw a connection between how the plastics that we consume on land inevitably flow into the ocean, we decided to dress up Max Pagel, one of our LED volunteers as an underwater diver complete with fins, and inverted the image to create the illusion of a swimmer inside of an ocean filled with plastics.

The Sea is Plastic – Sony A7r-ii | 12-24 f4 | ISO 400 | 12mm | 1/20 sec Broncolor Striplight 60 + grid

Curious to see how it all came together?

Check out this Behind The Scenes video explaining it all more in depth

With the installation tested and certified-photo-ready, all the remained was to hope that locals living in and around Singapore would take the time to go and visit our instagram trap. So far, local photographers and artists have already started to use #plastikophobia to ignite conversations around the plastic problem.

If you know anyone in Singapore that are looking to raise awareness for the issue in a creative way, send them to the Sustainable Singapore Galleries in the Marina Barrage from March 7th to April 18th !

@sassystrawberry, @fariwu, @theshbang
@wunderland_arts, @pip_emerald, @shirlyhamra
@eve.msz, @manuelgussmann, @achewlim


Installation: Von Wong & Joshua Goh
Social impact Strategy: Laura Francois
Cinematography: Run Rhys
Impact Support: Zero Waste Singapore
“Team LED”:  Thomas Svitil, Max Pagel, Sonny Windstrup, Manuel Gussmann, Tobias Herbig

Models: Max Pagel and Neo JiaLing

Timelapses: Henry Poh and Chris Dickinson

Volunteer Wrangler: Karen Ng

Volunteers: Max Pagel, Sonny Windstrup, Manuel Gussmann , Hien Nguyen, Celine Suiter, Pippin Emerald, Missy Ida, Erick Kristantio, Veena Sagi, Laura Abbott, Wei Keat, Wesley Sun, Judith Lee, Inke Weissenborn, Susilowati Joenoes, Thea Widjaja, Henry Poh, Sharon Goh , Rachel van Breda, Mayara Huber, Hania MIRI, Roslina, Janis Heims, Julia Kersten, Saki , Lay Kuan, Mezame Shashin-ka, Wu Hanshi, Clare Kiersey, lim tian chew, Wilson Wong,  Clement Egyx, Mak Han Feng, Fari Wu, Lim Ming Ming, Bottamalin Zaelow, Tiffany Zeeman, Carmen Hong, Sindy Ong , Edison Ong , Egene Chong, Gui Lian En,  Veronica Sung, Daphne Ong, Sophia Guan , Alex Yeo, William Wong, Hui Jeng, Gemma Luengo, Weng Tan, Hailin, Roxane Uzureau, Cassandra AnnDragon , Amirah Aziz , Agisa Abdulla, Michelle Boo, Shan Shan, Anna Salovino, Tobias Herbig, Naomi Heng, Sikai Chen, Carisa Lam, Michael Chan, Christensen Ravee, Cheryl Lin, Anne-Laure Herrezuelo, Megan Ng, Dennis Lum, Zena Choie, Kisha Tan, Aran Dante Samus

In partnership with the Canadian High Commission and City Development Limited
Supported by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Public Utilities Board (PUB)

Media Requests

  • Feel free to quote and publish the photos in your online publication (please credit & link back to the original). Specific Terms of Use can be found here.
  • High-Rez press images, BTS and more can be found in this dropbox link. 
  • Commercial requests and rights: suzy@suzyjohnston.com
  • Read more about the project at Plastikophobia.com