11.04.2013 - UNESCO Office in Venice

The garbage patch territory turns into a new state

©M. C. Finucci - Greetings from the Garbage State

The Garbage Patch State® - a performance installation by Italian artist Maria Cristina Finucci - is on show today in Paris at the Maison de l'UNESCO, salle des pas perdus. Following an invitation by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and Maurizio Serra, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Italy to UNESCO, the event is open to the public.

This project has been put in place thanks to the collaboration of the University Ca' Foscari of Venice and the sponsorship of the Italian Ministry of the Environment, with the support of the University of Rome. The Garbage Patch to be symbolically recognized as a federal state rises in the middle of the oceans. It is a territory that comprises five areas of man-made rubbish scattered in the North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and Indian Ocean. Land-based sources - such as agricultural run-off, discharge of nutrients and pesticides and untreated sewage including plastics - account for approximately 80% of marine pollution, globally. Marine habitats worldwide are contaminated with man-made debris.

The Garbage Patch is one of the most serious forms of pollution caused by humankind. The largest, discovered in 2009, is called the Great Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a gyre of marine debris in the central North Pacific Ocean. The Patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other debris that have been trapped by the currents. The garbage gets broken down, as a result of photodegradation, into smaller and smaller pieces. As the plastic flotsam photodegrades into smaller and smaller pieces, it concentrates in the upper water column. As it disintegrates, the plastic ultimately becomes small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms that reside near the ocean's surface. In this way, plastic may become concentrated in neuston, thereby entering the food chain.

The official facebook page of this ambitious project announces that the Garbage Patch will be recognized as a federal state with a “population” of 36,939 tons of garbage. It was discovered in 1989, it covers an area of 15,915,933 square meters, and its flag to wave is blue, like the oceans it pollutes. The nation is large but inhabited; would anyone actually want to live in a Nation made of garbage? Maria Cristina Finucci, the artist, believes that the art has the power to raise awareness and that the tragic garbage patch phenomenon ought to be at least arrested for now, till other actions can be taken.

The UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), supports the initiative and will help bring information to the large public, with particular emphasis on pollution, sustainable development and education. Much can be done. Find out about the problem of garbage patches and get involved, there are probably cleanup efforts happening near you! Don’t discard anything near the coast, when you go to the beach make sure you pick up after yourself. Try to avoid using single-serving plastic items and replace them by reusable items. Refuse excess packaging, try to re-use and recycle as much as possible. Remember that very little of the plastic produced each year is actually recycled and much of it finds its way to the ocean.  

Website: http://www.garbagepatchstate.org/

Social Media : The Garbage Patch State, the away state

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