The Life of a Plastic Water Bottle

By Peter S. Green - 2012-10-02T21:18:26Z

Photograph by Marcos de Paula/dpa/Corbis

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Art of Water

Plastic bottles and other waste wash into the oceans, where they degrade and endanger marine life and ecosystems.

Sometimes art mimics life. Pictured are two plastic fish, each made of thousands of discarded water bottles, rising from Botafogo beach in Rio de Janeiro during the United Nations Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in June. The document endorsed at the conclusion of the meeting was widely panned as being similarly empty.

The document "does not match the ambition and the challenges the world is facing," said European Union Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, in an interview at the summit's conclusion. "The thing which is missing is the part that would give a clear sense of how this should be done -- some concrete steps and guidelines."

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