In 2018, The Appreciation Society organised the project ‘A Drop in the Ocean’ to get citizens involved in collecting plastic bottle tops from Brighton & Hove’s* beaches.
We focused on bottle tops because most of them aren’t currently recycled.
Every plastic bottle top found on our beaches and intercepted in cafes along the seafront from March to October 2018 was logged and then most of them used to create a colourful installation.
In just 8 months, enough bottle tops were collected on and along the Brighton & Hove seafront to build a stack over 2.5 times the height of the British Airways i360, the UK’s highest tallest moving observation tower, over 3 times the height of the London Eye, and over 100m higher than The Shard, London’s tallest skyscraper. And these were only a fraction of the bottle tops that were used, discarded and washed ashore along this sliver of coast.
The aim was to show how even small bits of plastic add up. And how seemingly small changes could add up too.
This is what we discovered about bottle tops along Brighton & Hove’s beachfront.
The Final Bottle Top Count
We would’ve expected to see an increase in bottle tops over the summer months, when Brighton beach sees a dramatic increase in visitors.
The increase in intercepted bottle tops during Phase 2 reflects this.
However, the decrease in the numbers collected from the beach during this phase also relates to visitor numbers. Summer drastically increases the waste City Clean has to deal with on the beach each day. The increased work along with staff shortages meant that cleaners didn’t have the time to separate out bottle tops from the general waste for us.
Making a final statement
We had a rainbow of colour to work with for the final installation.
We sorted the bottle tops according to shades and then used blocks of colour to create a wave. It used around 24000 bottle tops and stretched for almost 50 metres. We couldn’t use the sports caps, and in Phase 3 we didn’t use all we collected. Those not used are destined to be part of a project that will be running at the city’s Jubilee Library in Autumn 2019.
*Brighton & Hove is a small city on the south coast of England (population, approximately 288,000). It’s a popular destination for tourists and day-trippers from London, especially during the summer months. The main stretch of beach this project encompassed was approximately 7.2 miles/ 11.5 kilometres from the Hove Lagoon in the west to Rottingdean in the east.