Repurposing Plastic: An Artistic Eco-Business

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Repurposing plastic is an approach to recycling that builds in creativity and artistry. And we need to do whatever we can to diminish the amount of plastic in our trash cans, transfer stations, and recycling centers.

plastic repurposing

The scientific term for petroleum-based plastic is Ethylene Monomer Chains. Scary, huh? Plastic is very stable and, therefore, stays in the environment a long time after being discarded. Repurposing plastic can help to alleviate some disposed plastic while also creating works of art.

Some Background about Plastic and Why Repurposing Will Make a Difference

The production of plastic has increased substantially over the last 60 years from around 0.5 million tons in 1950 to over 260 million tons today. That’s according to Thompson, et al in a white paper titled, “Plastics, the environment and human health: Current consensus and future trends.” Their research indicates that around 4 per cent of world oil production is used as a feedstock to make plastics and an additional similar amount is used as energy in the process.

When I was young, plastic was more of a novelty than a common item in everyday life. The extent of our repurposing was devoted to empty bleach bottles. We’d cut out a window, fill it with soil, and create starter environments for seedlings. But that was about it. Most packaging then was paper or glass, and building construction in our area was primarily from wood.

Alleviate the Impact of Plastic through Repurposing

We live in a different world today. As reported by Knoblauch in Environmental Health News, more than one-third of today’s plastic is disposable packaging like bottles and bags, many of which end up littering the environment. We have an opportunity to make an impact, albeit small, to alleviate plastics’ denigration of the environment through repurposing. It’s also a nice way to express your creativity and save money.

Instead of disposing, let’s take a look at how artists are currently transforming everyday plastics. It’ll be an inspiration for your own artistic projects.

See How Established Artists Repurpose Plastic

Here are some artists whose use of media, method, and color in repurposing plastic is quite remarkable.

  • Jeff Yeager created a juicer out of plastic.
  • Sarah Turner’s home lighting is quite innovative.
  • Virginia Fleck turns plastic into fanciful plastic paneled mandalas.
  • Josh Blackwell designs thread-studded shopping bags in varied textures and patterns.
  • Gert de Mulder created Recy-Blocks for constructing inhabitable dwellings.
  • A fashion artist named Zoe May is becoming famous for her plastic corset dress.
  • Catherine McEver has a fun line of Barbie Doll clothes made from plastic bags.
  • Multidisciplinary design firm Rosenbaum and TV producer Luciano Huck built a vertical wall entirely out of plastic bottles.
  • Sarah Turner’s half-moon chandelier, made out of plastic bottles, is quite graceful.
  • Lisa Be of Project Vortex designed a wall from plastic bottles in memorial to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of much of New Orleans.
  • Photographer Garth Britzman captured a plastic parking canopy art installation created by a team of artists.
  • Olga Kostina covered every wall of her house in colored bottle caps. It’s really wonderful!

The Transformational Repurposing Plastic Artist in You

If you are artistic, then you must see these photographs of “45 Ideas of How to Recycle Plastic Bottles” from Architecture Art Designs.  The concepts range from walls, screens, and room dividers, to lamps, games, toys, planters, mosaics, and candle holders. So creative!  Clever! Innovative! So, too, are all kinds of repurposed plastic designs on Pinterest.

If each of us took on one of these projects, we’d be beautifying the local environment as well as reducing the amount of plastic that just isn’t being recycled. Give it a try; you might very well expose the inner plastic artist within yourself.

Photo credit: spakattacks via / CC BY



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