Offbeat Video

By Jack Williams


This incredible 11 foot structure may look like a giant wave, but it was actually created using 168,000 STRAWS – highlighting the world’s plastic waste problem.

Photographer Ben Von Wong is used to working on large scale projects to bring attention to environmental issues, and for this installation he even broke a world record for the world’s largest drinking straw structure.

The project came about while Ben was speaking to representatives from Zero Waste Saigon, (ZWS) an environmental organisation that offered to collect more than 100,000 straws off the streets of Saigon, Vietnam.

PIC BY BEN VON WONG / CATERS

The two-month cleaning process saw hundreds of volunteers collect straws and plastics from not only Hanoi, but also the beach towns of Nha Trang and Vung Tau.

Having sorted and counted the 168,000 straws, Ben and volunteers then glued them onto pieces of recycled plastics, as well as assembling them to fit the ribs of the structure.

Bringing the installation to life, LED lights and pieces of plastic were then hung from the wave – a structure which measured 10 feet 9 inches high, 36 feet 2 inches long, and 14 feet 9 inches wide.

PIC BY BEN VON WONG / CATERS

Ben, 32, from Canada, said: “The hope with this installation was to show how small individual actions and decisions can really add up to make a big difference.”

The installation was built in Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam, in January, and it is currently looking for a permanent home after March 26.

According to a 2016 report by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it is predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the world’s oceans. 

In total, Guinness verified that 168,037 used straws made up the structure, a representative from ZWS said, and the verification process required two independent witnesses, a count and de-count.

PIC BY BEN VON WONG / CATERS

This installation was Ben’s first world record, and he was pleased that he, the collectors and ZWS received recognition for their work.

Ben added: “The response has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“Out of the people that physically experienced the installation that we surveyed, 91 percent said that the installation changed their perspective on single use plastics.”