Money is tight in Lithuania. The country has been adjusting to life under harsh austerity measures since Lehman Brothers collapsed. So when the textile artist Jolanta Šmidtienė was asked to design a public Christmas decoration for the town hall square in the city of Kaunas, she challenged herself to create something cheap.
Her solution? A Christmas tree made out of 32,000 old plastic Sprite bottles. She cut the bottles in half and strapped the bottoms together with zip ties to make those spiky green hemispheres. Then she hung those hemispheres on a roughly 40-foot scaffold, around a real tree. At night, the orbs are lit from inside with 40,000 lights. It’s a dramatic scene.
It’s not an energy neutral display, of course. The lights use electricity. But Šmidtienė’s work is a nice reminder that there often are useful—or at least artistic—ways of repurposing plastic trash. We’ll assume the top halves of the bottles were recycled.
If you’re interested in a less environmentally destructive Christmas yourself, but don’t have time to wrestle 32,000 plastic bottles into a work of art, there are companies, like this one in Los Angeles, that will rent you a living Christmas tree.