9,230 Bottle Tops on Brighton's Beaches
Local public design project aims to raise awareness of single-use plastic on the seafront
Running from March 2018 to March 2019, A Drop in the Ocean involves creating an infographic along the fence that borders the Volk’s Railway. It will be made entirely of bottle tops that have been found on the beach or intercepted at beachside cafes, bars and kiosks.
The project consists of three three-month phases. At the end of each phase, all the bottle tops collected are counted, sorted and, with the help of local people, made into an infographic.
The first official bottle top count took place on 24 and 25 May, with volunteers counting and recording data on a total of 9,230 tops. These are now ready to be transformed into part one of the infographic, and Brightonians are invited to take part in the workshops to make it. These are being held every day from 6 to the 9 of June at the Volk’s Railway Visitor Centre on Madeira Drive. Volunteers can drop in at any time between 10:30am to 5pm.
In addition, on Friday 8 June 2018, the Pier 2 Pier Silent Disco Beach Clean to mark World Oceans Day is being co-hosted by A Drop in the Ocean. The beach clean starts from the Volk’s Railway Visitor Centre and participants will be encouraged to lend a hand in the workshop too, with free rides on the Volk’s Electric Railway available for several lucky volunteers.
Kemp Town resident, permaculture designer and project initiator, Irene Soler, chose bottle tops for the project because they were something she was finding almost every time she walked on the shore. Since 2014 she’s been photographing her beachcombing finds, creating a series called “Souvenirs Brighton Beach”. Besides being easy to store and count, Soler felt the tops’ bright colours would make an eye-catching design. This she hopes will raise awareness about the impact of plastic on our oceans:
“I hope that when people see all these little bits of plastic – each one with the potential to kill a sea bird, fish or other creature – they’ll think twice before leaving their bottle tops lying around. Even better, that they’ll go out and buy that reusable bottle they’ve been meaning to get for ages! It will show how small bits of plastic add up, but the positive spin on that is that it will show how, if we each make a relatively small change, that could add up too.”
Bottle tops are small enough to be swallowed whole by many sea creatures, may be slow to degrade, may float for a long time, and are among the top five items found on beaches around the world according to the North Sea Foundation’s 2017 Bottle Cap Report.
As of 1 March 2018, CityClean’s teams have been separating the bottle tops they collect on the beach and along the seafront. Cafes and kiosks along the seafront are also hosting collection points for bottle tops, and local beach cleaning organisers are on board too. Individuals who regularly do their bit to clean the beaches can also separate the bottle tops they find and add them to the tally.
Although the project was launched by Soler and The Appreciation Society without any funding, The Rampion Fund saw the potential of the project and granted funding at the end of March. According to Sussex Community Foundation Programmes Manager Hannah Clay, they funded the project because it will:
“... help raise awareness of the impact of plastic pollution - a good example of one of the first projects supported through the Rampion Fund. We look forward to seeing the results when the installation is complete.”
Brighton & Hove City Council was very interested in Soler’s idea too, and through their #StreetsAhead campaign have been involved since the very beginning.
If anyone is interested in taking part in any of the workshops they can just arrive on the day. For more details see www.adropintheocean.org.uk, or follow the project on Facebook (www.facebook.com/adropintheoceanbrighton/) or Instagram (www.instagram.com/adropintheocean_brighton/).
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Notes for editors
2) Project initiator, Irene Soler is a graphic designer and a director of The Appreciation Society, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company based in Brighton. You can find out more about it at http://www.theappreciationsociety.org
3) The Rampion Fund is a community benefit fund set up by Rampion Offshore Wind Ltd and managed by Sussex Community Foundation. More information is available here: https://sussexgiving.org.uk/give-to-your-community/our-funds/named-funds/rampion-fund/
4) A selection of images of bottle tops and local people collecting them is available for publication.
5) Soler’s Souvenirs of Brighton Beach photographs can be viewed at
For further information please contact
Irene Soler, Project leader
Tel: 07754 829837
Images for download
Click on any image to view or download in higher resolution.