Monday, 16 July 2018

Rescued by a Plastic Bottle

We were having a discussion in the office the other day about the many ways in which plastics have contributed to ‘rescuing’ people. For example, literally, through lifesaving equipment such as buoyancy aids and indirectly, through providing recycling/upcycling solutions for poorer communities. This inspired me to find out how the humble plastic bottle is being ingeniously utilised to ‘rescue people’.

1. Solar lightbulb:

Refill an empty plastic bottle with water, add some bleach to prevent algal growth, insert through the roof, secure in place and the bottle acts as a solar lightbulb with daylight being refracted through the water to create light inside.

Originally developed by Alfredo Moser in 2002, bottle-light technology inspired the creation of the
Liter of Light charity in 2011. In only four years the charity had installed 350,000 solar lightbulbs in 53 different countries and had also developed a solar panel addition to create street lighting at night.

2. Air Conditioning Unit:

Cut plastic bottles in half and mount them into a board which is then placed over a window. The change in air pressure as the air enters the wider part of the bottle and is funnelled through to the narrower end cools the air inside.

Designed by
Ashis Paul in 2015, he presented his idea to his employer who decided to develop a working prototype and put the downloadable plans online for free as a social project. In three months, the eco-cooler had been installed into 25,000 homes across rural Bangladesh.

3. Canoe:

Collect approximately 1000 plastic bottles, clean them, tie them together in blocks of ten, connect the blocks and insert a wooden board to create an ‘ecoboat’, capable of carrying up to 3 people and a load of 90kg.

Designed by Ismaël Essome when he noticed how discarded plastic bottles were contributing to the flooding of his local neighbourhood. He created his first canoe in 2016 and set up his company Madiba Nature to provide recycled, ecological canoes for local communities at a fifth the cost of a wooden equivalent. His aims are to reduce plastic bottle pollution, to promote sustainable fishing and to encourage ecotourism.

4. Brick:

Collect empty plastic bottles, fill them with mud/sand and you have the basic building blocks required to create schools and homes. There are many projects taking place across the world where organisations are helping local communities to build using discarded PET bottles.

And finally, not a bottle but a bottle top:

5. Bottleshower:

A polypropylene plastic top designed by Tim Jeffrey to fit a standard sized water bottle, acts as a tap allowing a constant flow of water that is ten times more efficient than if the water was poured out manually.

Originally designed for refugee camps, the Bottleshower has also been adopted by the emergency police response teams in London to aid in the treatment of acid attacks.

We have many objects in the MoDiP collections that are made from recycled/upcycled plastic bottles ranging from a string of lights to a pushchair and even school uniform. If you want to find out more about the history of the plastic bottle and how it can be recycled, take a look at this case study

Katherine Pell (Collections Assistant) 

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