Life of Polly

Enno Alting, Matthias Tippe


Miles under the sea, in the Gulf of Mexico, we get a glimpse into the life of Polly, a “young” oil particle in the charming neighbourhood of Deepwater Horizon.

Polly: Today is the day! Pete and I are on our way to our graduation ceremony. It took us only 18 million years to come of age. My parents told me that sometimes it can take oil particles like us about 400 million years before moving out of the parents home and finally seeing the light of day... Talk about a slow start. But we’re here now. Pete is super excited. He has always been dreaming about a career in the beauty and fashion industry. But unfortunately, that’s not for us to decide. You kinda have stick to whatever choice is being made for you. And what about me, you ask? Well, I’ve always been fascinated with the old stories about internal-combustion engines. Fueling a 400hp racing machine just for the sake of fun seems pretty amazing to me.

The famous Mr Looney, CEO of a multi-billion dollar company that provides jobs for so many oil particles starts assigning compelling futures graduate after graduate. Some are luckier than others...

Mr Looney calls out: Anderson - Cosmetics.

Polly: Pete to my left is getting all hyped up.

Mr Looney: Clark - Medical Supplies, Wilson - Construction.

Polly: Now it’s finally our turn.

Mr Looney: Taylor (Polly: That’s Pete) - Fuel Supply.

Polly: Pete is gasping for air. Not the way he hoped this would go down.

Mr Looney: Harris (Polly: That’s me) - Packaging.

Polly: Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

Polly: Several hours later, Pete and I are not in the best moods. Not only did we end up in categories we never aimed for but it’s also the time for goodbyes. After living in the same neighbourhood for several million years, Pete really grew on me. That’s what makes the fact that I’m probably never gonna see him again even harder.

Years later, the excitement of a new life has finally worn off. Polly has become part of the process that humans like to call “Recycling”. After myriads of never changing rounds, Polly is longing for a change in her life.

Polly: I’m sick of it! I’ve had it up to here with all this circular economy recycling mumbo jumbo. Is this my destiny? Getting shaped into the same stupid plastic bottle over and over again? And for what? No! I’m breaking out of this! I just have to find the right human to set me free! Hopefully someplace nice. Not even asking for much but something with a view would be cool. I’ve heard rumours of Mirinda’s bottle being dropped off in the Alps somewhere. Way to go champ! If she finds a nice place to hide and waits for about 450 years she and her plastic comrades can go their own way. No longer bound to each other but free as a microplastic can be! I wish her all the best. My next delivery is due tomorrow. Let’s see where we are off to this time.

A week later, we find Polly at a bonfire on the beaches of Hawaii. A way out of the tiring cycle is close at hand. The freedom of the ocean is calling Polly and her plastic mates more than ever.

Polly: Calm now Polly. Don’t get too excited yet. You’ve been close to open water before and every time some stupid environmental activists picked you up and days later you find yourself with a new shiny label reading Diet Coke, Nestea or whatever other ridiculous names these people come up with. But today things look more promising. Maybe it’s the fact that my container says 30% alcohol. Here’s to hoping!

The party is over. Our bottle owner passed out just meters from the surrounding water of the ocean. The situation, stretched to breaking point, the tension nearly unbearable.

Polly: Damn you human! Couldn’t you just stumble a little bit further? I mean it’s right there! Now I have to sit and wait and hope for a miracle. Isn’t Hawaii called a surfer’s paradise? Where are the wind and waves everyone is talking about?

Shortly before losing all willpower and falling into complete and utter resignation, Polly is released. After years of toil and trouble in the recycling industry, she finally lost the shackles of circular economy. Over the next couple of weeks, Polly has the time of her life and takes several rides in the stomach of various sea creatures and finally arrives at every plastic particles Nirvana: The great Pacific Plastic festival!

Polly: Wow, this is amazing! Look at the diversity! There are members from all over the world. All shapes and sizes joined the party. I mean with headliners like “The Ghostnets feat. Suffocating Dolphins”, “The Pollutioners” and “Plastic Maiden” no wonder everyone came. I can’t believe I finally made it!

After a torrential downpour, Polly stumbles across the festival grounds. Still overwhelmed with the vastness of the scene, she can’t believe her plastic eyes.

Polly: Pete! This can’t be real! How did you end up here of all places?

Pete: Polly! Look at you! You haven’t aged a day! Oh my, you won‘t believe what happened to me. After 389 rounds of the “Indie 500” Nascar Race, I was vaporized and blown out of a tailpipe at full speed. These guys really took me to a higher level! Rising up to the clouds I soon made the decision to join the Acid Rain Corps, and today was the big day! Finally, the call to arms was issued and I was allowed to make the big jump from Mother Cloudship down for operation “Ocean Acidification”. Did you meet the others yet?

Polly: The others?

Pete: Yeah! Didn’t you hear? Even your little sister made it. They opened up Deepwater Horizon, handing out “green cards” and releasing millions of us on the fast-track to the open sea. What a move, man! Some of them are even travelling all over the world. I’ve heard Andersons younger cousin even made it to the bottom of the Marianas trench. It‘s so amazing that humans these days make it possible for us to travel even to the most remote corners of the world! How kind of them!


Hello Eve, your weekly cleansing process is completed. In today's cycle, we were able to extract one-hundred and thirty-four thousand microplastic particles. An estimated number of eight thousand particles remains in your blood. On average, this month's internal contamination rate is about 6% higher than last month's. Please remember to replace your filter after every session to ensure maximum cleansing performance. Your next cycle is scheduled for Monday, April 23rd. Have a beautiful day and stay healthy.