The Plastic Cup
We are living in the age of plastic. Produced in an unprecedented amount, plastic is everywhere. Flying in the air, forming islands in the ocean. Fresh waters are not an exception: the Tisza river is one of Europe’s most heavily polluted rivers. Proper management of household’s waste is on the bottom of war-torn Ukraine’s priority list. Left with no better choice, local people deposit their garbage into the floodplains of the Tisza. Just a few kilometers downriver, behind the Schengen border, is the EU member Hungary. During the annual floods thousands of plastic bottles, light bulbs, cans and barrels cross the border.
Water Authorities do their best to control the plastic flood but during extreme high tides pollution is among the least of their concerns. After entering Hungarian territory, the river slows down and so does the contamination. Plastic bottles are stranded and form huge deposits in the floodplain forests. At some places, plastic can reach several meters in height. Authorities are helpless. People living by the river are disappointed. No one seems to be able to cope with an environmental problem of this size. No one but the Plastic Pirates…
In 2013 an NGO launched a fun boat race named the “Plastic Cup”. Their volunteers call themselves Plastic Pirates and their idea is quite simple. Why not to build plastic bottle boats from the garbage itself then get onboard and collect as much plastic from the river as possible? Within 5 years the initiative grew into an international environmental campaign. By now, Plastic Pirates collected tons of garbage from the river and the “Plastic Cup” became a tradition.