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One man’s trash is another woman’s art

A Pennsylvania bartender makes used straws and bottles into something beautiful

Banning non-recyclable plastic straws may be on-trend for green restaurants these days. But one bartender has found a creative way to give them a second life.

Laura Dias, a former textile designer and bartender at The Austrian Village Bar & Restaurant in Jenkintown, Pa., doesn’t create art with paint, pencils, or other common mediums: She uses discarded plastic straws and bottle tops. 

After making note of the incredible amount of single-use plastic trash her family and workplace generate, Dias came up with the idea to make something beautiful out of trash.

“As a society, we face tremendous pressure in our communities to do better and rethink how we use and dispose of plastics,” Dias said. “Through some comical trial and error, I came up with various techniques to create my designs. Mainly I cut the plastic into strips, boil the strips and reshape the warm pieces with tongs into a pattern.”

Although the designs are purely aesthetic, the message behind the colorful, mainly floral pieces of art is purposeful: to show people that single-use plastic does not have to be ugly, clog up our trash heaps, or worsen our environmental impact.

“I create plastic art hoping to spark conversation,” she said.

As Dias prepares to display her artwork at local art shows, her creative statement has already made an impact — The Austrian Village is in talks to eliminate use of plastic straws altogether.

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @joannafantozzi


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