As a part of People’s Climate Week, the Cornell University Sustainable Design team created a functional art project made out of plastic water bottles to display on the Arts Quad to draw attention to the amount of plastic waste generated by students.
“I think the display is important because it starts a discussion among students about the impact of generating so much plastic use and how easy it is to switch to a reusable water bottle,” said T.J. Ball ’19, CUSD co-general manager.
CUSD is a 150-person interdisciplinary project team within systems engineering that allows students to gain hands-on learning experience while creating more sustainable communities.
“As the infographic attached to the piece outlines, plastic waste has a terrible impact on our environment, especially considering how little of it actually gets recycled,” Ball said.
The team used water bottles found on campus, totalling roughly 200 plastic water bottles. This represents 1/20th of the plastic waste generated by Cornell undergraduate students on a daily basis.
“We found this number based on a Student Assembly environmental committee survey that suggested around 4,000 plastic water bottles are used every day,” Ball said.
The idea for the water bottle project was initiated by Ball, and the art structure was created by him, Ruth Park ’21 and Kevin Reigner ’20, two other members of the organization’s operations team.
“Kevin helped me collect the water bottles and assisted with stringing the water bottles onto the string,” Ball said. “Ruth helped with stringing on water bottles, assembling the structure and she also put together the infographic that goes along with the structure.”
Assembling the lines of plastic water bottles took eight hours, and putting the structure together took an additional six hours.
“I hope this piece will spur others to create installations or functional art that performs a similar call to action about other important matters,” Ball said.
According to Ball, People’s Climate Week consisted of a series of around 89 events organized by environmental and sustainability awareness clubs on campus.
CUSD will be presenting their final expo May 5 in Collegetown eHub to showcase more of the organization’s research and projects.