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Al Gore joins campaign to turn ocean plastic landmass into official country

Al Gore joins campaign to turn ocean plastic landmass into official country
A flag has been designed for the Trash Isles
Former US Vice President Al Gore has agreed to become the first honorary citizen of ‘the Trash Isles’: an area of plastic waste in the Pacific ocean so large that campaigners are calling on the United Nations to recognise it as an official country.

The campaign, which is being led by the Plastic Oceans Foundation and LADbible, aims to solve the issue of ocean plastic pollution by lobbying the UN to recognise ‘the Trash Isles’ area and to award it all of the environmental protections offered to other official UN member states.

Having met the basic criteria to become a country – defined borders, forming a government and setting up communications – campaigners have submitted an application to the United Nations to declare ‘the Trash Isles’ as the UN’s 196th country.  

The campaign has launched with an official flag (presented by Mo Farah), a currency called Debris, and passports created from recycled materials.

Marine plastic pollution is one of the most serious environmental problems of our time, with as much as 12 million tonnes of plastic ending up in the ocean each year, according to Eunomia Research & Consulting, with grave consequences for the fishing and tourism industries, as well as for human health.

In addition to Al Gore’s endorsement, Dame Judy Dench has agreed to be named Queen of the Isles, and British Olympic great Sir Mo Farah has also pledged his support.

Accepting his position as the Isles’ first honorary citizen, Gore, who has become a leading climate change activist since leaving the White House, said: “We want to shrink this nation [Trash Isles]. We don't want any more plastic added.”  

“Let’s come up with biodegradable materials instead of this junk! 50 billion tonnes over the last 60, 70 years. It’s completely outrageous. It is absolutely harming the oceans and actually some of it shows up in the fish people eat now. It’s disgusting.” 

Recruiting Citizens

Commenting on the launch, Stephen Mai, Head of Marketing at LADbible Group, who is leading the campaign said: “The ambition of ‘Trash Isles’ is to garner the support of our 60-million plus social community and drive them to become citizens by signing our online petition. We will present this to the United Nations to get them to approve the ‘Trash Isles’ application”

“We are just getting started,” Mai adds. “There may well be a national anthem, general elections and even a national football team.”

Environmental campaigner and ‘Trash Isles’ ambassador, Sarah Roberts added: “You only have to take a walk to your local stream, river or beach to see evidence of this for yourself. With so much hype about environmental issues, it’s easy to become desensitised, but the truth of the matter is we are on the verge of an environmental catastrophe.

“Right now, there is enough cumulative plastic in the oceans to circumnavigate Earth more than 400 times. This indestructible material upsets every level of the food chain. If our oceans can’t function properly, they won’t be able to support fish stocks, absorb carbon to protect us against global warming or generally do any of the things that our lives are dependent on.”

Al Gore joins campaign to turn ocean plastic landmass into official country
The Trash Isles passport highlights the risk of entanglement on larger marine life like turtles and seals
Cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Trash Isles Campaign is the latest of a number of high-profile efforts we’ve seen this year to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area containing roughly one third of all ocean plastic.

In May, The Ocean Cleanup Project - which pioneers a system that clears plastic from the water’s surface using passive plastic capturing technology - announced that it will be able to begin extracting plastic from the Pacific as soon as 2018, thanks to a design breakthrough.

During the same month, leading beer brand Corona unveiled a plan to protect 100 islands around the world from ocean plastic pollution by 2020 after teaming up with Parley for the Oceans.

The partnership sees Corona assess its own supply chain with a view to replacing all plastic items. The brand will adopt Parley’s AIR Strategy (Avoid, Intercept, Redesign) and encourages other companies to do the same.

The petition to have the Trash Isles recognised by the UN can be found on change.org.

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