Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Spectacular Plastic Bottle Sculpture Delivers Strong Recycling Message

These amazing fish are made entirely of discarded plastic bottles. (Photo: Ueslei Marcelino)

It might be hard to believe, but the giant sculpture of leaping fish shown above was created using only discarded plastic bottles. It was displayed on Botafogo Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during last June’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also called Rio+20, and like the Conference, the sculpture was designed to be a statement about sustainability.

However, unlike the Conference, which most consider a huge disappointment, the sculpture delivered its sustainability message loud and clear, and as is obvious in the photos, it didn’t hurt that the messenger was a spectacularly beautiful work of art. The plastic bottle fish glittered in the Brazilian sun and glowed in brilliant colors at

night, attracting visitors around the clock.

Most negative assessments of the Conference cited its lack of concrete, actionable programs, and generally criticized  the collective failure of the governments in attendance to make progress. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said this: “This possibility of a once in a generation moment passed us by and we will regret it. Happily the lack of political leadership was countered by the incredible vitality, determination and commitment of civil society — from young people, women, trade unions, grassroots communities, faith-based organizations and the private sector.”

She could have added artists to her list, definitely including those who created the fish sculpture. Dwarfing their

human visitors, the plastic bottle fish symbolize the number of bottles carelessly discarded into the environment, including the adjacent ocean, and focus viewer attention on the importance of recycling, the strongest remedy against the disease of littering. The global plastics industry is making solid progress against marine litter.

I regret that I could not identify the artist or artists who created the fish sculpture. High praise is overdue to her, him, or them for creating a striking statement on the littering problem and the recycling solution, and above all, for doing it so beautifully. Art need not be solely for art’s sake.

The plastic bottle fish were illuminated by night. The sign advises viewers: “Recycle your attitudes”. (Photo: Alexandre Macieira | Ascom Riotur)


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