Photographer Benjamin Von Wong is determined to make people care about plastic pollution, but he knew he needed to make a big splash to get their attention.

"All I knew was that plastic pollution was a boring topic and I had to find a way to make it more interesting," he explained on his blog.

Inspired by the knowledge that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, Von Wong came up with an ingenious idea: He'd create a sea of plastic.


Things fell into place quickly after that. A waste management center let him borrow 10,000 plastic bottles. A friend let him coordinate the shoot in his warehouse. A "small army" showed up to help clean the bottles.  

Photos showing thousands of plastic bottles were interesting, sure, but Von Wong knew the shoot needed "something unique and beautiful to truly stand out."

What he needed ... was a mermaid.

Photo via Benjamin Von Wong, used with permission.

Thankfully, he didn't have to go far to find one. His mother knew of a local artist named Cynthia Brault of Cyntault Créations who made silicone tails, among other things. Once she heard about the project, she offered to make a custom one for the shoot.

Photo via Benjamin Von Wong, used with permission.

As for the mermaid herself? Thanks to the magic of hair and makeup, model Clara Cloutier transformed into a living, breathing half-fish, half-human friend-of-Ariel.

Photo via Benjamin Von Wong, used with permission.

"Alone, I was just a photographer — but thanks to the help of amazing individuals we transformed a lifeless pile of used garbage into a message: #MermaidsHatePlastic," Von Wong explained.

Photo via Benjamin Von Wong, used with permission.

The photos are stunning, but Von Wong is hoping to do more than produce a few gorgeous images.

He wants to create a sea change in the way people use plastic, which is why he's encouraging people to take a pledge to reduce the amount of plastic they use.

Photo via Benjamin Von Wong, used with permission.

‌If we don't take action, our plastic waste will continue to be found in places it shouldn't — and not just on beaches either. Plastic has turned up "in the stomachs of more than half the world’s sea turtles and nearly all of its marine birds."

The good news is that people are finding simple and innovative ways to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean.

But it'll take more than one photographer, 10,000 plastic bottles, and a mermaid to combat plastic pollution.

We're all going to have to change the way we look at the plastic we use. Sharing these photos is a good place to start.

True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less

Prior to baby formula, breastfeeding was the norm, but that doesn't mean it always worked.

As if the past handful of years weren't challenging enough, the U.S. is currently dealing with a baby formula crisis.

Due to a perfect storm of supply chain issues, product recalls, labor shortages and inflation, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with formula demand and retailers are rationing supplies. As a result, families that rely on formula are scrambling to ensure that their babies get the food they need.

Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

That might seem logical, unless you understand how breastfeeding works and know a bit about infant mortality throughout human history.

Keep Reading Show less

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

Your cat knows you better than you think.

Cats are often seen as being aloof or standoffish, even with their owners. Of course, that differs based on who that cat lives with and their lifetime of experience with humans. But when compared to man’s best friend, cats usually seem less interested in those around them, regardless of species.

However, a new study out of Japan has found that cats may be paying more attention to their fellow felines and human friends than most people thought. In fact, they could be listening to human conversations.

"What we discovered is astonishing," Saho Takagi, a research fellow specializing in animal science at Azabu University in Kanagawa Prefecture, told The Asahi Shimbun. "I want people to know the truth. Felines do not appear to listen to people's conversations, but as a matter of fact, they do."

How do we know they’re listening? Because the study shows that household cats often know the names of their human and feline friends.

Keep Reading Show less

Emily Calandrelli was stopped by TSA agents when she tried to bring her ice packs for pumped milk through airport security.

Traveling without your baby for the first time can be tough. And if you're breastfeeding, it can be even tougher, as you have to pump milk every few hours to keep your body producing enough, to avoid an enormous amount of discomfort and to prevent risk of infection.

But for Emily Calandrelli, taking a recent work trip away from her 10-week-old son was far more challenging than it needed to be.

Calandrelli is a mom of two, an aerospace engineer and the host of the Netflix kids' science show "Emily's Wonder Lab." She was recently taking her first work trip since welcoming her second child, which included a five-hour flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. Calandrelli is breastfeeding her son and had planned to pump just before boarding the plane. She brought ice packs to keep the milk from spoiling during the flight, but when she tried to go through airport security, the TSA agents refused to let her take some of her supplies.

Keep Reading Show less