Home for wayward plastic bottles

October 10, 2012

When many of us are out there hiking the great outdoors, we become impromptu trash collectors.

After all, when you appreciate nature you can’t help but snatch up that six-pack ring or plastic bag that you just know is going to wreak havoc on some unsuspecting critter.

But then there’s always someone who takes such a chore to a whole new level. Meet Richard James, a photographer who spends a lot of time at the Point Reyes National Seashore. One day after the prompting of numerous people, he decided to up his trash-collecting ante and see what would happen if he gathered and kept plastic bottles from the beach for a whole year.

The result was the construction of what he calls “meta-bottles” — or bottles made from bottles. He made five of them, each 8.5 feet tall, 30 inches across, and with 172-feet volume filled with mostly uncompressed plastic bottles. The bottles are a United Nations of waste — with labels from  Japan, China, Korea, Russia, Malaysia, Greece and, of course, the U.S. Now you know that the junk thrown into the ocean really does end up everywhere.

James writes on his blog:

“What I have learned from my many hours on the beach is that it does not so much matter how many people pick up the trash that is coming in, 24/7/365 from the sea.  Myself and 1,000 others could work each and every day and not keep up with the new trash arriving each day.”

So the bottles are meant to be a reminder that you should stop generating trash and use reusable water containers.

Like many artists with large projects, James has a little bit of a real estate issue he wants you to help solve. What’s he going to do with the mega meta-bottles?

“They need to be seen, to galvanize society. Now they mostly sit in a barn entertaining mice and swallows and the occasional fox or raccoon,” he wrote in an email. “I’d like to find a more meaningful home for them soon.”

So this whole story here is meant to ask: Do you have a place to showcase his meta-bottles? Leave a comment, or email,  and we’ll put you in touch with James.

Alison Hawkes is the online editor of Bay Nature.  

About the Author

Alison Hawkes was a Bay Nature editor from 2011-2017. Before Bay Nature she worked in journalism for more than a decade as a former newspaper reporter turned radio producer turned web editor with each rendition bringing her closer to her dream of covering environmental issues. She co-founded Way Out West, a site dedicated to covering Bay Area environmental news.