What Do You Do with More Than 20,000 Bottle Tops?

Keep Suffolk Beautiful Bottle Top Art

You make a mosaic, of course! On Jan. 13, more than 30 volunteers arrived at the Suffolk Art Gallery in Suffolk, Virginia, to create a large mosaic using thousands of plastic bottle tops.

The project began from a partnership between Keep Suffolk Beautiful (KSB), the Suffolk Art League, the Suffolk Art Gallery and Suffolk Public Schools and was designed to raise awareness of plastic pollution and promote recycling. More than 8 million tons of plastic gets dumped in our oceans every year resulting in an estimated 100,000 marine mammals and millions of birds and fish killed annually. Angela McElroy, Oceanography teacher at Nansemond River High School, said, “Raising awareness of plastic pollution and the damage it does to our environment is very important. Getting students involved using art is an effective way to engage and get people thinking.”

Local high school students collected bottle tops over a six-week period, which started on America Recycles Day (Nov. 15). The goal was to collect 6,000 tops but students and members of the community were able to gather approximately 20,000 tops of all shapes, sizes and colors by the end of December.

“It goes to show how much plastic we use in our daily lives,” said Linda Bunch, director of the Suffolk Art League. “We hope this project will encourage people to recycle more and maybe change some habits. Instead of buying a bottle of water, why not use a refillable container?”

Wayne Jones of Keep Suffolk Beautiful said, “It was great to have so many students from different schools working together. Everybody had a really great time and after 5 hours we were all really pleased with how well the mosaic turned out. KSB is thankful to Linda Bunch of the Suffolk Art League, as well as Stephanie Gwaltney, Angela White and Brian Kershasky, the art teachers from the local public high schools."

The mosaic is currently displayed at Suffolk City Hall. It will then be moved to the North Suffolk Library. The goal is to move it to different venues across the city where it will be accompanied by recycling information. Anyone can watch the mosaic being made in a one-minute time-lapse video available on the City of Suffolk YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/CityofSuffolkVA) or on the Facebook pages for Keep Suffolk Beautiful, The Suffolk Art League or the City of Suffolk.