Plastic trash is polluting our oceans, and now there’s a garbage patch near Hawaii that is about as large as the entire country of France. The charity Plastic Oceans Foundation and publication LADbible want to have the patch acknowledged as a country called Trash Isles. Why? Two main reasons: to raise awareness of the pollution problem, and to get the area cleaned up.

Trash Isles, LADbible, Mario Kerkstra, Plastic Oceans Foundation, country, nation, plastic, plastic pollution, Pacific Ocean, garbage patch, trash patch, plastic trash, plastic garbage, ocean, ocean pollution

LADbible and Plastic Oceans want to set up the world’s 196th nation: Trash Isles, currently a giant garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. They’re working to raise awareness, but they also submitted a Declaration of Independence to the United Nations (UN) on World Oceans Day back in June. They’re now collecting signatures of ‘citizens’ on Change.org to submit a petition to UN Secretary General António Guterres.

Related: A garbage patch bigger than Texas was just discovered in the Pacific Ocean

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Trash Isles actually could meet country criteria. LADbible says under Article 1 of the 1993 Montevido Convention on the rights and duties of States, a country must define a territory, form a government, have a permanent population – they say that one’s open for interpretation – and be able to interact with other states. Quartz said they can roughly draw borders around the garbage patch and it wouldn’t be hard to create a government and organizations for interacting. Trash Isles can already count former United States vice president Al Gore as their first citizen, and over 107,750 people have signed the Change.org petition.

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What’s the point of all this effort, besides awareness of an environmental issue? If accepted as a country and UN member, Trash Isles will be protected under the UN’s Environmental Charters. LADbible pointed to a specific line which reads, “All members shall cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect, and restore the health and integrity of the Earth’s ecosystem.” They interpret that to mean the world’s countries will have to work to clean up Trash Isles.

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LADbible said people can help out by signing the Change.org petition to become a Trash Isles citizen, or by donating to Plastic Oceans. Trash Isles already has an official flag, currency, and passports created with recycled materials. LADbible Group Head of Marketing Stephen Mai said, “We are just getting started. There may well be a national anthem, general elections, and even a national football team.”

+ Trash Isles

+ Plastic Oceans Foundation

Via LADbible (1,2) and Quartz

Images via LADbible and Mario Kerkstra (1,2,3,4)

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Trash Isles, LADbible, Mario Kerkstra, Plastic Oceans Foundation, country, nation, plastic, plastic pollution, Pacific Ocean, garbage patch, trash patch, plastic trash, plastic garbage, ocean, ocean pollution, stamps, design

Trash Isles, LADbible, Mario Kerkstra, Plastic Oceans Foundation, country, nation, plastic, plastic pollution, Pacific Ocean, garbage patch, trash patch, plastic trash, plastic garbage, ocean, ocean pollution, currency, design

Trash Isles, LADbible, Mario Kerkstra, Plastic Oceans Foundation, country, nation, plastic, plastic pollution, Pacific Ocean, garbage patch, trash patch, plastic trash, plastic garbage, ocean, ocean pollution, currency, design

Trash Isles, LADbible, Mario Kerkstra, Plastic Oceans Foundation, country, nation, plastic, plastic pollution, Pacific Ocean, garbage patch, trash patch, plastic trash, plastic garbage, ocean, ocean pollution, passport, passports, stamp, stamps, design