This artist is using tons of plastic garbage to make an urgent point about waste.

Over the past several years, artist Benjamin Von Wong has been on an amazing journey inspiring people to reconsider what they throw away.

It started with a trip to Guatemala and an up-close photoshoot of a massive trash heap there, and quickly morphed into a series of projects designed to confront people with various aspects of the world's waste problem.

As an artist, however, he wanted to do it in a way that would get people to look first before he unloaded harrowing facts about waste on them. There's so much alarmist news out there about what we're doing to our planet that, frankly, after a while, many of us end up turning off to the problem. Von Wong's method of turning trash into something beautiful to get our attention is a different, perhaps more productive approach.


"As human beings, we go through so much sh*t," noted the artist in a blog post on Bored Panda. "Every day, we make dozens of small decisions to buy more stuff – at the supermarket, malls, online… For most of my life, I didn’t think it mattered. After all, I was just one person, making a couple of small decisions."

"But one day, I found myself in a landfill surrounded by an endless mountain of other people’s small decisions and realized that maybe those small decisions did matter."

So, with a veritable army of like-minded volunteers, he created a series of waste-based art installations to help wake others up and see the problem that's all around them.

He put a mermaid in a plastic sea of 10,000 bottles — the same amount the average person uses and throws away in a lifetime.

He created "Toxic Laundry Monsters" to bring the chemicals and micro-plastics that are released every time we do a wash to life.

His latest piece, "Strawpocalypse" is meant to showcase the enormity of the plastic straw problem. It took him and his crew 6 months to collect 168,000 straws recovered off the streets of Vietnam to complete the waves.

In partnership with Laura François and her nonprofit, clothingtheloop.org, Von Wong took thousands of garments that were left in an abandoned factory in Cambodia and made several installations to accent how wasteful the fashion industry has become. You can check out how they made them here.

Photo via VonWong/YouTube.

Photo via VonWong/YouTube.

And this plastic cave was made from 18,000 cups that were collected from a food court in just one and a half days. It really puts that "by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean" statistic into perspective.

The point of all of this, Von Wong hopes, is that more people will start to change their consumption and waste habits. If nothing else, his art shows that one person can make a difference. A big difference.

We're up against a mounting problem, and that can feel overwhelming, but if you pick one thing today — whether it's plastic straws, bags, bottles or how you buy clothes — and make a decision to be more mindful about it, you'll be taking a significant step in the right direction.

Heroes

I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

Policing women's bodies — and by consequence their clothes — is nothing new to women across the globe. But this mother's "legging problem" is particularly ridiculous.

What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

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Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

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