Walking into the corner bathed in blue lights, visitors are surrounded by all kinds of plastic bottles and bags with a plastic sea turtle trapped by a fishing net and a stingray coughing up a plastic bag out of its mouth.
The Plastic Free Ocean exhibition, depicting a horrible future of the sea if the public don’t stop using single-use plastics, was displayed on the second floor of Wired on 39 Gallery, Yangon this week.
“When you get into installation, you feel like in an ocean, but the ocean is full of trash,” Wendy Neampui, a visitor, said after looking at the exhibits.
The installation with pictures of animals suffering from plastic products and graphics from EU environment aims to raise awareness about the effect of plastic pollution on waterways, said Don Wright, a Scottish photographer and sculptor who made this art installation.
Living in Myanmar for six years, Wright found the environmental conditions bad. “People throw rubbish directly into the river, and you can see, people use plastic bags everywhere,” he said.
It’s not Wright’s first time creating art about plastic pollution. He made an installation called “Wave of Pollution” at Junction City, the fanciest shopping mall in downtown Yangon, in June 2018.
“People enjoyed it,” Wright said. “They are starting to recognize how plastic products can affect our environment.”
Thant Myanmar, a volunteer-based NGO focused on environmental issues, also held a discussion about the environmental situation during this exhibition.
“Currently, we do not have an efficient waste management system (in Myanmar),” said May Thet Htwe, a manager of Thant Myanmar. For example, there is a regulation that people will be charged 3,000 Kyat of discarding trash on the street, according to her, but the police officers rarely charge people for that.
Plastic pollution, especially in waterways is a worldwide environmental issue. The UN Environment Programme launched #Cleanseas campaign in February 2017 to raise awareness of plastic waste in the oceans with 50 governments signed up to the #CleanSeas campaign so far, but Myanmar is not one of them.
However, Myanmar does have policies regarding plastic pollution.
Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw are pioneer cities in Myanmar with a ban on the use of small and thin plastic bags brought in during 2009. Yangon also entered into force of banning on the production, storage and sale of polyethene bags at 2011, according to UN’s report of single-use plastics.
However, in 2018, it’s still easy to get a free plastic bag at a shopping mall, which calls into question the effectiveness of the regulations.