Are you doing something different and loving it?

I’m into Garbage Art!

Not only am I creating art from garbage, I troll the beaches and collect it.  I even have a grabber so I don’t have to bend very much when I pick up the lighters. There are so many lighters on the beaches it’s mind boggling.  Hard to believe that so many people are still smoking.  But from the look of some of the lighters, they’ve been in the water for a very long time.

Yup, I’m creating art out of the lighters washed up on the beaches here on Koh Lanta.  Anyone who thinks that the plastic island in the Pacific is not real, that it’s fake, a hoax or exaggerated, is absolutely wrong.  It’s there.  It’s bigger than Texas, and it isn’t the only one.  The plastic problem is serious.  I see it every day with the garbage that comes in with the tide.

Instead of letting it all depress and stress me out, I decided to do something to clean it up.  Of course I don’t even make a dent, but it makes me feel like I’m part of the solution.  Ya, sounds corny, but if we all did a little bit, it would be meaningful.

I got the idea from another expats here on Koh Lanta.  After driving him crazy with all my questions, I decided to sculpt a huge cat.  Trying something new is so important for staying positive and relieving stress, especially during this crazy time on our planet.

I’ve been picking up the trash on one of the local beaches around sunset every day with a cut-off limit of 3 big garage bags or 2 hours duration.  There is so much to collect after high tide that I could do it non-stop, so I had to give myself some boundaries.  I figured it would be easy to start to separate out the lighters from my bags of trash.   Now I’ve improved my method and use a separate bag for the lighters.  Hahaha, I’m into continuous improvement.  Toyota would be proud of me.  Ya, a stupid joke from the academic side of my brain.

It’s a process

The lighters need to be collected, washed, bleached and dried.  Then the tops need to be taken off and the innards removed.  Sounds easy, and it is, as well as time-consuming.  Getting them ready takes up too 3 days.  First I put the lighters in big bucket full of soapy water overnight, then the next day add in bleach for another overnight.  I wash them to get rid of the smell of bleach and let them dry.

Taking off the tops is easy, but after doing 20 my hand is so sore from squeezing the pliers.  I had to find help, and yes I had to use bribery.  Once the tops are off, the innards come out after a lot of tapping on a hard surface.

More than 2,000 so far

I’ve been prepping lighters for about 3 weeks.  I not talking about a few hundred lighters.  On no, it’s closer to 2,000 now that I’ve prepped and/or used already.  And I’m still collecting them.

About 60% done

I figure it out as I go, taking it a day at a time.  I have no idea where I’m going with any part of my Garbage Art Cat (what other shape would this Happy Cat do?) until I get to that part of the body.  I’m focusing on the chest and hip these days, not even thinking about the head.  By the time I’m ready to start on it, I’m sure I’ll have ti all figured.

Collecting, prepping and gluing the lighters isn’t the end of the effort.  I want to light it up some how.  And I have no idea where it will go.  It’s huge so it needs to be somewhere proper to show it off.  A lobby, a club, maybe a restaurant.  Ideally I’d like to donate it to a charity for them to use to raise money or to a big company for a hefty donation to a charity.  Any suggestions?

Just do it

Are you trying something different?  You should.  It can be making something, doing something, or even trying something.  Even if you end up not enjoying  it, it may spur you on to trying something you will enjoy.  Look at it as an adventure.  And we all enjoy adventures.

You just may have a blast on your adventure.  I sure am. And I’ve even considering my next Garbage Art masterpiece….

It’s all good!


3 thoughts on “Are you doing something different and loving it?

      1. Yes, that is a very good way to describe it, and here on Koh Lanta, it is popular, especially in the rural and poor areas. In the summer months when the monsoon winds blow inwards, they bring a massive amount of garbage to the beaches. Locals sort through the debris, each focusing on one material. There are many recycling depos set up that offer money for the garbage, for commercial and industrial uses. I’m very creative so I’m always looking for new ways to use things. I also recycle all non-food items I can’t find a use for. A few times a week I leave a bag of recycling at the corner, and within an hour it’s taken. It’s good to know that the garbage will be put to good use.

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