Even those who don’t want to do complicated art works can use plastic bottles in creative ways.
> Bottles with the tops cut off and placed over open metal fence posts will stop water running into them and causing rust.
> Closed bottles can be used as insulation in concrete flooring.
> People who keep birds and small animals can use the bottles as water dispensers.
> Gardeners can use upside-down bottles to gradually water their plants.
This is according to the Czech artist Veronika Richterova who makes beautiful works of art by upcycling plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate, known commonly as PET, a clear plastic.
In the Czech Republic, clear non-coloured PET bottles have been used to make greenhouses – inventive flower and vegetable growers are glad to make use of this light but at the same time strong plastic.
The walls of these greenhouses, made by simply inserting a large number of bottles into each other, in fact have better insulation qualities than classic glass ones. They are also excellent moisture retainers, and let through diffused light in an ideal way, just as the plants need it.
The most common object made of PET to be found in Czech gardens is a simple device for frightening away moles. An iron pole is stuck into a flower bed with a PET bottle on top of it. The noise made by the bottle as it vibrates in the wind is transmitted along the stick into the ground and frightens the tunnel-digging animals away.
An improved version of this device – with little “wings” jutting out of the bottle – acts as a wind turbine and keeps at bay not only moles but also birds.
In the summer PET bottles containing a little sweetened juice are hung on fruit trees as a trap for wasps and similar pests. In the winter, on the contrary, feeding boxes cleverly carved out of the same material make life more pleasant for songbirds trying to survive the season.
Thanks to their outstanding qualities, new ways are constantly being found to use PET bottles, not only in gardens, but in the household and on building sites as well.
Plastic in clothes
PET is fairly easy to recycle, and so it can no longer be considered as useless waste.
On the contrary, thanks to the organised system of waste collection in the Czech Republic, it has now become an extremely valued commodity, suitable above all for the production of staple fibres for the textile industry. The only producer of these recycled fibres in the Czech Republic is the Silon company in the town of Plana nad Lu Nici.
Staple fibre produced in this way is used as filling for anoraks, duvets and sleeping bags, and is successfully used in upholstery, too. Recycled fibre is also added to heavy-duty carpets and in recent years it has been extensively used in manufacturing interior coverings for cars.
In recent years there has been a marked increase in the demand for PET as a used material. At least half of Czech PET bottles that are pressed into bales are exported to the People’s Republic of China, from where it later returns in the form of cheap clothing and toys.
In manufacturing these textiles, the Chinese add the fibre produced from PET bottles to classic natural materials such as wool and cotton, and in this way mixed materials are created that are widely used.
Recycled PET also turns up in products where we would not expect it, for example in jeans or towels, while pure PET fibre is used in the manufacture of popular sporting knitwear or fleeces. Only about five PET bottles are needed to make one T-shirt, while 25 are enough for a whole ski jacket.