To draw attention to his cause, he does not throw soup on paintings, nor block bridges or roads, two methods which otherwise work very well for making headlines, but Jonathan Olanlokun, a Nigerian in his thirties, chose another method: he disguises himself as Spiderman. He lives in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State in western Nigeria, and regularly organizes street waste collections in a spider-man costume, including a full-face mask. And the effect is immediate. We film him, we photograph him, we encourage him, and above all we ask him why he does that, and that is precisely the goal sought with this costume.
The one who is nicknamed “the green Spiderman” wants to start conversations on the thorny problem of waste production, on the addiction of our societies to plastic, to throwaway, to the idea that once thrown away, waste would concern us more. But nothing disappears. Everything remains, accumulates, pollutes the earth, the water, contaminates the animals and this therefore concerns us in the first place. This is what Jonathan Olanlokun repeats to all those who come to see him, with supporting figures. According to the UN, more than two billion tons of solid waste, ie non-degradable, are produced each year in the world.
So it’s not just a matter of throwing your little paper in the trash. It is about radically changing the way we produce and consume. Hence the Spiderman disguise, “because beforehe said on Instagram, when I was organizing waste collection in the street, nobody was interested, we didn’t take the subject seriously, and then I tried with this costume, to shock, to attract attention, and now it works, we listen, I am asked questions, and people are interested in this issue.”
And not just people. The media are tearing up the story of the green Spiderman and he is entitled to his portrait everywhere, in Nigerian newspapers, on Cameroonian television, on the BBC in England, or even via the American agency Associated Press. Now, he is even invited to schools to talk to students about the importance of reducing waste production and convince them that they can all be agents of change, role models, heroes.