Campaigners are trying to get a floating garbage island the size of France recognised as a country in the North Pacific.
Trash Isles, as the country would be called, is the brainchild of environmental charity Plastic Oceans Foundation and media company LadBible, who are petitioning the United Nations to recognise the plastic mass, which floats off the coast of Hawaii, as the world’s 194th country.
But nationhood isn’t an easy thing to achieve.
Under Article 1 of the 1933 Montevideo Convention, a country must be able to: define its borders (tricky when it continues to accumulate waste on a daily basis); form a government; interact with other states; and have a permanent established population.
Luckily, environmentalist and ex Vice President of the United States of America Al Gore has volunteered to be Trash Isles’ first citizen. It’s second could be designer Mario Kerkstra, who’s created a tongue-in-cheek flag, passport, stamps and currency for the island (named debris) that feature images of floating garbage.
It might sound far-fetched, but the campaign’s primary goal is to raise awareness of the environmental havoc being unleashed on the ocean. Some eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped into it every year – roughly the equivalent of a rubbish truck full every minute.
‘We want to shrink this nation,’ says Gore. ‘We don’t want any more plastic added, so let’s come up with biodegradable materials, instead of this junk. We ought to have a price on carbon, which would also affect the economic attractiveness of plastic.’
Gore also advocates for the introduction of recycling laws which would minimise the amount of plastic being dumped, and increase the amount being reused for new products.
Plastic kills over one million seabirds a year, and it’s also started making its way into the human food chain. If current rates of dumping continue, it could outweigh the amount of fish in the ocean by 2050.
Should Trash Isles be formally recognised, it’d be subjected to the same environmental laws governed by the United Nations, meaning the garbage nation would be forced to clean up its act.