Photo Essay

You just recycled that empty plastic laundry detergent bottle, you feel like a good person right? But did you ever think if that laundry detergent bottle is truly recyclable? How a pair of earrings can solve the plastic crisis, at least demonstrate how repurposing plastic can create a positive impact on the environment. 

“CP3 is a multidisciplinary project and the end goal is to address the plastic crisis by doing local recycling on campus” Wanda Stamford, co-founder and external business coordinator of CP3 said about the project’s mission.

A new project was created this semester involving recycling and repurposing plastic to be created as fashionable earrings. 

“For the earring project particularly, the idea was to make a fashionable piece that made a statement ecologically, but also in fashion, right, like it’s quite a bold design and it’s quite long and it’s a statement piece,” Wanda Stamford said in regards to the purpose of the project.

The first step to make these eco-friendly earrings is collecting the right type of plastic. HDPE or type 2 plastic is used to create the earring because this type of plastic doesn’t produce harmful fumes and is safe to recycle, as said on CP3’s website. Plastics such as milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles are first cleaned and removed of all stickers before being placed in the shredder or cut into small pieces.

“We made some tests and we understood that the mold was big enough to hold 120 grams of plastic so it’s very easy for us to know how much plastic to put in,” Felix Beaudry, operational coordinator designer of CP3 said when setting up the shredded plastic.

The plastic shreds are then laid flat onto a metal plate and put into the hot press machine to melt the plastic. After it gets pressed, the metal plate is taken out to cool down before taking the plastic sheet out. The designs and color vary on the plastic sheet, depending on which plastics are used more than others.

Once all the plastic sheets are made, the students meet on a different day to prototype the smaller earring size they were working on. Stamford and Beaudry worked in Beaudry’s apartment to determine the right size of the earring before using his CNC (computer numerical control) machine to craft the prototype. 

When asked how the earrings are made, Stamford explained, “It’s going to take the design that Claire made, and it’s going to imprint onto the sheets.” The final earring design was created by Concordia student Claire Lecker. 

After inputting the dimensions of the earring onto the computer program for the CNC machine, it cuts into the plastic to make bell-like shaped earrings. Beaudry, Stamford and Lecker filed and cut out excess plastic off the earrings to clean them up before trying. Once earring hooks were placed on, Stamford and Lecker gasped with excitement at how the earrings looked.

“It’s a conversation starter. So what we hope is that by doing something from Concordia students to Concordia students, we can also motivate our community to wear their convictions.” 

Wanda Stamford weighs pieces of plastic on a scale at Cegep du Vieux Montreal in Montreal, Quebec on December 1, 2021. Plastic that was used from other sheet templates will be weighed and reused for the earrings. Adela Languein/ Concordia
Marina Correia lays out the shredded bits of plastic onto a metal board in Montreal, Quebec on December 1, 2021. Laundry detergent bottles were cleaned and then shredded to be used as the base material of the earrings. Adela Languein/ Concordia
Felix Beaudry places metal plates onto the hot press machine in Montreal, Quebec on December 1, 2021. The plastic pieces on the metal plate are secured by a second metal plate to make sure it melts evenly in the hot plate machine. Adela Languein/ Concordia
Felix Beaudry places metal plates into the hot press machine in Montreal, Quebec on December 1, 2021. The machine clamps down onto the metal plates to melt and flatten down the plastic. Adela Languein/ Concordia
Wanda Stamford holds up the finished plastic sheet in Montreal, Quebec on December 1, 2021. After the metal plates cool from the hot press machine, unique patterns and colors emerge after peeling the plastic sheet off. Adela Languein/ Concordia
Wanda Stamford removes the plastic sheet after cooling from the hot press machine in Montreal, Quebec on December 1, 2021. A small metal frame holds the newly made plastic sheet and must be removed before the plastic sheet is used to create the earrings. Adela Languein/ Concordia
From left to right: Felix Beaudry, Marina Correia and Wanda Stamford work on creating the plastic sheets in Montreal, Quebec on December 1, 2021. Members of CP3 finish making the last of the plastic sheets before creating the earrings. Adela Languein/ Concordia
Felix Beaudry tries on the paper earring prototype earring on Montreal, Quebec on December 5, 2021. Before setting up the design to be created on the CNC machine, Beaudry makes sure the size and dimensions are okay. Adela Languein/ Concordia
Felix Beaudry uses a program to measure the earring design in his apartment in Montreal, Quebec on December 5, 2021. Beaudry plays around with the dimensions of the earrings to make sure it will be cut out correctly through the CNC machine. Adela Languein/ Concordia
The prototype earrings are being cut out of the plastic sheet by the CNC machine in Montreal, Quebec on December 5, 2021. The CNC machine cuts out the earrings through a program on Felix Beaudry’s computer. Adela Languein/ Concordia
Wanda Stamford puts the final touches to the earrings in Montreal, Quebec on December 5, 2021. Stamford filed and cut off any excess material off the earrings before completing the earrings to try on. Adela Languein/ Concordia
Supplies used to create the prototype earrings lay on a table in Montreal, Quebec on December 5, 2021. Box cutters, nose pliers, and other supplies were used to craft and create the new earrings. Adela Languein/ Concordia
Claire Lecker smiles are she tries on one of the new earrings in Montreal, Quebec on December 5, 2021. Lecker drafted multiple designs before the current one was picked through a community poll. Adela Languein/ Concordia