Below the Line

Surfrider Foundation’s plastic monster rampages through social media and beaches

By Christopher Tolve | Editorial Intern

August 7, 2019 | 4 min read

To warn people about the dangers of unrecycled plastic waste, the Surfrider Foundation has teamed up with Rankin to invade social media with a plastic monster.

The world’s coastlines are crowded with waste and our oceans are full of plastic, threatening marine life. Out of human neglect, a terrifying representation of the impending crisis has risen – a half-living plastic beast called the Plastic Monster. Photographed by one of the world’s top photographers and cultural provocateurs, Rankin, and created by seamstress Charlie Watkins, the creature can be seen stalking around beaches and social media feeds, admonishing humans about the necessity to keep their earth clean.

Plastic Monster

In 2015, just 9% of all plastic waste in the US was recycled, according to The Intercept, and that number has only gotten lower. The vast majority of the 300m tons of plastic produced globally each year is thrown into landfills or washed up on beaches.

Plastic Monster

Plastic Monster being photographed on the beach

“The fight against ocean pollution is urgent and the Plastic Monster seemed the perfect way to hit home the horror that we have created,” Rankin said in a release. He has partnered with the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental non-profit that has been working to clean up oceans and coastlines since 1984.

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Rankin and the Surfrider Foundation collaborated with startup Phil Ropy, the inventors of digital philanthropy cards, to launch a digital card that puts the Plastic Monster front and center and urges people to show their support online.

Plastic Monster card

“The Surfrider Foundation has been an amazing organization to work with and create an environmentally focused campaign with Phil Ropy’s digital philanthropy cards,” said Rankin. “Now it’s up to all of us to raise as much awareness as possible to prevent any further irreversible damage to our marine life.”

A large number of well-known international faces, yet to be announced, are expected to pledge their support for the project across social media on 7 August when the digital cards will go live. The Plastic Monster is due to appear on a UK coastline to drive home the message, also on the release date.

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