'so-how-long' by Inbal Rief, Will Chase

Imagine there is a new universal eco-rule: that the right to easily enjoy beach access derives from your plastic waste management. The more plastic you feed the ocean, the farther you walk to the sea. Think about how much plastic you use on a daily basis, would you be able to reach the ocean?

Every year, more than 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters our oceans from coastal regions. Like other environmental disasters, the plastic pollution crisis carries a cognitive dissonance. After an onslaught of disturbing images—garbage patches stretching for miles, or wildlife caught in plastic pollution—people have become numb to the message. At the same time, plastic pollution is presented as an abstract problem, and few people grasp their personal impact. We came up with an inventive idea to transform our waste into a physical metaphor for how plastic pollution is distancing the ocean from us. ‘so-how-long’ places a mirror to show us our own mismanaged plastic waste. It helps each of us to grasp and feel the impact of the plastic pollution crisis. And for the first time sustainability and fitness bond.

‘so-how-long’ transmits ocean plastic pollution from a nebulous issue to a tangible metaphor. How? We translate the average amount of plastic waste produced by each person in coastal countries*, into walking distance and time. Just imagine walking the length of your plastic waste. The more you pollute, the farther you walk to reach the sea. This is the core idea of ‘so-how-long’. We have created an interactive web experience that uses data storytelling to communicate the plastic pollution impact that each person has in each country and plan to integrate this next with a fitness tracking gamification.

How and why the design elements were chosen?
Our data visualization forges an emotional connection with the reader. We have embraced the most intuitive and natural design elements from our oceans’ scenery. The colour scheme - from sandy yellow to ocean blues - and the imagery are essential to making our message clear and seamless. The most important light-absorbing substance in the oceans is chlorophyll, we try to echo it in our design. We also use texture to attract interest to our elements. The “implied texture” is detectable by our sense of sight, reflected in the textures of the ocean and beach.

This project has been selected as a finalist for the National Geographic Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge (OPIC) 2019.

So, how long will it take you to walk the length of your plastic waste?

Check in here to see our intro movie: https://vimeo.com/387945567/382057beea

* "Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean.", Research by Jambeck, Jenna R., et al., Science 347.6223 (2015): 768-771.