In our Heroes of Tisza articles series, we are featuring individuals, NGOs, and other programs that contribute to cleaning up the Tisza River in some way. In this article, we present a Hungarian volunteer-based NGO, the Plastic Cup (hun: Pet Kupa), or as they call themselves: the Plastic Pirates.
The background story
According to the recollection from Attila Dávid Molnár, the founder of the PET Cup: “It all started with a conversation. My friend Tibor Fekete and I were recalling our summer experiences at the regular monthly meeting of the book club in Budaörs. Tibor told me about an unusual water tour he had recently taken. Believe it or not, he sailed on the Tisza River on a raft made of PET bottles. István Palkó built the boat, and… my friend would have gone on, but I interrupted him and exclaimed: This is it! The idea I have been waiting for!!! Tibor did not understand why I was so excited, so I told him briefly what it was about. About five years before the conversation, near Tokaj, I was filming swallows. This was when I first saw the flood of PET bottles in the Tisza River when tons of plastic waste poured over the river’s surface from beyond the borders. I had no idea what could be done against such enormous pollution. I had no idea, but it seemed that the problem had settled in my brain because as soon as I heard about István Palkó’s boat, I knew. We had to build a ship from PET bottles and fight pollution while making a film about it! Together with the filmmaker Zsolt Marcell Tóth, we founded Természetfilm. hu, so it was natural that we would start this initiative together. We knew we were taking on a big challenge.”
Introducing the Pet Pirates
Everyone knows that PET bottles float splendidly on the water’s surface. However, only some people know what kind of splendid ships can be built from them. We know because we made our ships, not just one, but an entire fleet. We sailed more than a hundred kilometers on the Tisza River. We call ourselves the PET Pirates because we are at war. We have declared war on the enormous flood of PET bottles that floods the Tisza River year after year. Along the way, we collected a lot of drink bottles from the river, the floodplain, and the settlements along the Tisza River. At the end of our journey, we crushed our ships and the collected garbage and placed them in selective waste bins where they were reused.
Although the PET Pirates’ first attacks were successful, the Tisza River has yet to be saved from pollution. The new flood wave is expected yearly in late autumn and early spring. We have decided to repeat the feat. With the help of the settlements along the Tisza River, we will turn garbage collection and the fight against environmental pollution into a fun and educational event and once again declare war on the Tisza River’s garbage flood.