Introducing our plastic bottle cap world map!
Our bottle cap map currently resides at our flagship store in downtown Middletown, CT, and is a work-in-progress. We have a collection bin in the store for locals to drop off their caps so that we may use them for our art, and responsibly recycle the ones we don't need.
In 2018 we collected over 6100 bottle caps and used what we could for the map, and recycled the rest. We sent 61 pounds of #5 plastics to be recycled; how awesome is that?! Many thanks to everyone who helped collect them and contribute to this display.
So, why exactly are we building this map? I'm glad you asked...
In the early 2000s I had learned that my local recycling service did not accept #5 plastics, so if a bottle cap was left on the bottle it came on, the workers were instructed to cut off the bottle top, or throw away the whole thing, sending lots of recyclable plastic to the incinerator. So, I started saving the bottle caps until I could find a way to responsibly recycle them. I recruited my family members as well, and together, over ten years, we accumulated about 50lbs of bottle caps.
Seeing all the bottle caps, I realized they're like oversized confetti - they have an aesthetic value and I felt like I could give them a shot at a more beautiful and creative future. It was around that time that I learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and I wanted to create a commentary on ocean waste... so I got to work on the map.
I first debuted the map at the Annual Trashion Fashion Show in Hartford in 2014. After a decade of saving caps I was woefully short on filling up the map... perhaps I also overestimated how big it needed to be. But hey... go big or go home!
Guests of the show loved the work in progress and took plenty of photo opps! Here's a super grainy shot of me enjoying a cocktail in front of this beast of a project!
Over the past 3 years we've had our bottle cap collection bin at the flagship and customers have dutifully brought in their plastics. Once or twice a year we sort through the collection and add more to the map. Here's a glimpse at how she looked in Spring of 2018 - as expected, the continents were filled in but we need a lot of blue caps to fill up that majestic ocean!
After looking at this thing day in and day out I decided that the clear bottle caps over the painted blue ocean weren't really working for the piece so I scraped all of them off with a putty knife and put the call out for more caps!
Around that time, Connecticut changed it's guidelines for accepting plastic bottle caps. Caps are now accepted in single stream recycling as long as they are securely fastened to the bottle they came on. This was great news and I was super pumped. I later spoke with my municipal recycling coordinator & learned that only about 40% of what we recycle in single stream actually gets recycled. The rest heads to incinerator. Because the stream isn't pure, its just not cost effective to sort out all the materials... So, as such, we still encourage people to bring us their caps so we can responsibly recycle them.
In 2018, cinder + salt hosted 4 beach and street clean-ups and collected 418lbs of waste from our communities. #rockon. My boyfriend and I snapped this photo in front of the map after the first clean-up, which was a huge bucket-list project for me. It took a ton of planning the first time around, but now we have a system and are excited to do even more clean-ups in 2019.
Cleaning the beaches, and roadways, is vital to the health of the ocean and all the creatures that live on Earth. I don't want to get too far into the weeds but learning about the birds of Midway Island was really what set this project in motion.
Midway Island is 1500 miles from any continental coastline and sits alone in the Pacific, not too far from the Hawaiian Islands. It's breeding ground to tens of thousands of seabirds who nest there each year. Sadly, it's also in the midst of an ocean gyre, spewing plastic trash onto its island shores every day.
(photo by Chris Jordan)
Hundreds of birds on Midway Island die every year from starvation due to ingesting plastics. With zero nutrients, and harmful toxins, plastics are deadly to all types of sea life. The fate of these birds is unacceptable.
We can do better. We need to do better.
Along with collecting waste from the community, our patrons contributed 61lbs of plastic bottle caps in 2018 which we were able to use on the map and recycle through Preserve. Here's a look at where the map stands now, as of Jan 2019!
If you would like to contribute to this piece, please feel free to drop of CLEAN plastic bottle caps at our flagship store, or mail them to :
cinder + salt
520 Main St
Middletown CT 06457