Single-use plastic consumption has gone up by 250-300% during the pandemic.
And with the United Nations Environmental Assembly coming together in February 2022 to discuss a global plastic treaty, we need to put pressure on world leaders to get the situation under control!
As an artist and activist, I’m always looking for exciting ways to make the boring problem of plastic pollution more interesting. I’ve created campaigns from 168,000 plastic straws, 18,000 plastic cups, and 10,000 plastic bottles. But those projects only raised awareness for individual objects and never pointed to the root cause of the problem: Plastic production.
I knew that I needed to level up my projects, but I just needed to find the right partner willing to take a chance on a brand new big idea first.
Lucky for me, the Embassy of Canada in France accepted my proposal to build an art installation to raise awareness for plastics. This was my chance to create more than a piece of art. It was my chance to create a symbol inviting the world to #TurnOffThePlasticTap
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Our faucet was built from used ventilation ducts scavenged from a building that was about to be demolished
I wanted to embody the spirit of reuse for this entire project. That meant finding folks that believed in the same! The kind folks at Delsan-Aim provided us with access to a building that was about to be demolished so that we could scavenge pieces of ventilation duct to bring our art installation to life.
It was then cut, painted, and adapted to fit a manual forklift
We found a local fabrication shop called Gaufab Inc to help us transform over 200lbs of ventilation duct into a giant faucet that would fit safely onto the SLC-24 – a forklift that could be found almost anywhere in the world.
So that we could take over the entire city with plastics.
Almost every single piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists on this planet. If we don’t do anything about it, it is my nephew’s generation, and every generation after that will have to live with the consequences.
The plastics were held together with rope made from plastic bottles
My dad helped me build a small tool out of wood, and a razor blade with the help of a youtube video that we found online after my friend and fellow artist Aurora Robson recommended it to us. She told us that PET plastics could hold a ton of weight if we kept them thick enough. She wasn’t wrong!
Each piece had to be sorted, poked, and threaded together
With the help of dozens of volunteers, we spent over a week organizing and preparing the plastics at the headquarters of YAM, a local community organization dedicated to protecting the environment.
So we could easily set up and tear down the installation within a single day, and photograph it in multiple locations!
Millions of tons of unrecyclable and contaminated plastic waste are exported to poorer countries every year. These countries don’t have the facilities to manage the waste, and it often bleeds straight back into our environment. Although it’s hard to do, the best thing we can do is reduce our plastic consumption.
We used smoke and mirrors to light up our faucet
Since the installation was so tall, the cheapest and most efficient way to light up our faucet was using mirrors provided by our volunteers. To help diffuse the light and add a sense of magic on location, we used a simple bee smoker loaded with organic hay (more environmentally friendly than running a generator!)
And a collection of flashes to light up the models.
Volunteers brought whatever lighting they had to the project for us to use. We used everything from speedlights to Godox strobes to top-of-the-line Broncolor move packs. We ended up frankensteining three triggers one on top of the other to trigger all of our lights!
All that remained, was for us to wait for the sun and clouds to get into the perfect position
With more than a truckload of plastic flowing into the ocean every 60 seconds, we need to take our heads out of the sand and start looking beyond beach cleanups. Unless we start by turning off the plastic tap, the problem will only get worst – regardless of how many cleanups we perform!
We found single-use boat wraps to hide our forklift
Every winter, boats here get shrink-wrapped to protect them against the elements. We reached out to a boat repair shop and asked them if we could recover their tarps and they were more than happy to give them to us. They told us that local waste management facilities can’t recycle them.
And used guide ropes and a wooden foundation to stabilize the faucet
To ensure that the faucet would be level, my friend Guillaume helped us build a small foundation from upcycled wood that we could place under the forklift. Gaufab installed eyelets into the faucet so we could tie thin matte black guide ropes at a 45-degree angle to guarantee it wouldn’t blow over with a heavy gust of wind.
It would take us five hours to set up the faucet, and two hours to capture the perfect shot.
Over 2/3rds of the world’s plastics end up in landfills like this one. Finding access to a landfill was a challenge, but we managed to find a local family-owned company called Groupe Bellemare to help us out. They recycle 75% of the waste they receive into new products, with the landfill reserved exclusively for materials too hard to recycle.
Hundreds of volunteers contributed thousands of hours to bring this project to life
Volunteers came from all walks of life. Young and old. Friends and strangers. Some spent hours helping while others like my parents spent weeks! One thing is for sure, this project would never have happened without the help of so many rockstars. If you want to participate in a future project, please drop me a line!
But this is just the beginning! We’re inviting everyone to help spread awareness! (Closed)
$10,000 prize pool! (Direct instructions to enter here) If you need some inspiration, check out and share some of the amazing work that other artists have created so far! (Find their work in our media center or follow them on Instagram here!)an artist or creative that would like to participate, join us in creating a remix of the Giant Plastic Tap between the 4th of October and the 4th of November which automatically enters you into a
Feel free to share photos of the Giant Plastic Tap far and wide to help spread the word! Note that the copyright and all rights in all content is owned by Benjamin Von Wong and (if applicable) contributors who submitted work as part of the #TurnOffThePlasticTap campaign (“Contributor Works”).
You can find digital use high-res photos, behind-the-scenes, Instagram reels, and more by following the links below:
- Individuals, NGOs, Non-Profits, and Small Businesses (under 5 employees) – get free access to all the files here.
- Journalists/Media – get free access to all the files here.
- Larger Businesses (over 5 employees) – get free access to all the files here.
- Commercial, print, licensing, and installation requests: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Interview requests: email@example.com
#TurnOffThePlasticTap is a Von Wong Production represented by Suzy Johnston + Associates
Legal support provided by Dipchand LLP
In Collaboration with: The Canadian Embassy in France
- Collection and Storage of Plastics: YAM (Y’a QuelQu’un l’Aut’bord du Mur), SDC Hochelaga-Maisonneuve
- Used Ventilation Duct: Delsan Demolitions (ht: Natalie Voland)
- Locations: Tomra Recycling, Sepaq (Oka), Ultradepot & Groupe Bellemare
- Faucet Construction: Team Gaufab Inc.
- Gear Support: Sony, Broncolor
- Project Managers: Geneviève Bélanger, Isabel Racine, Phil Boivin, Lisette Ladouceur
- Rigging Team: Guillaume Briand, Guillaume Allaire-Forget, Roxane Beaulieu, Elizabeth Drouin
- Videography: Danylo Bobyk, Tritam Chu Bedard, Lauren Guarneri
- Graphic Design: Emma Segal
- Digital Tech: Jessika Chiasson
Saxon Fraser (Choreographer), Marie-Reine Kabasha , Emmanuelle Martin, Danny de Matos, Fannie Côté, Brain Mendez, José Flores, Chad Concepcion, Ève Dupuis, Brooklyn Libao
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Non-Profits we’re supporting – (Learn more about the Calls to Action here)
AF Lepri, Alain Wong, Alison Wong, Albert Bahrampour, Alex Tong, Anastasia Stasenko, Andre Dumouchel, Savann-Andy Son, Anna Tenne, Anne T, Anne-Marie Coulombe, Anya Okhmatovskaia, Chris Nguyen’s parents, Christine Lan, Christine Ng, Cindy Ha, Claire Bihannic, Claude Campagna Lupien, Cynthia V Tomizzi, Cyrielle Noel, Daphné Mailloux-Rousseau, Derrick Hui, Didier Kaade, Dominique Duchesne, Elizabeth Drouin, Eric Chou, Fannie Wong, Florence Debellefeuille, Gillian Richards, Giovanna Gonzalez, Jacynthe Sauvageau, Jeanette Kho, Jennifer Blackaller Ruiz, Jérémy Lizandier, Jessica D’Amore, Jimmy Vigneux, JS Bélanger, Juliette Malo, Julian Stamboulieh, Julieanna L., Karine Laurence, Karyne Paquette, Kaylee Chan, Kody Cheung, Laura Luu, Lisette Ladouceur , Louise Lefort, Lukas Jay Tang, Madelyn Lakos, Maelys Fillon, Manh T. Nguyen, Marie Thai, Marius Ortiz, Milady Oanh, Melissa Couto, Nancy Lee, Olivia Ward, Osiris Gagliano Ladouceur, Patrizio Patrizio, Roxane Beaulieu, Roxanne Maite Nault, Sam Lafrenière, Samantha Dimitraki, Sebastien Ricci, Alice Jou, Sing Wong, Talar Chahinian, T. Mai, Tommy Cheung, Tristan Gauvreau, Valerie Rosen, Victoria Kelly, Zihan Cai
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Thank you everyone for making this project possible! It is only by working together that we can make a difference! Please like, comment, and share. You are part of the change we need to see in this world!