By Nina Wu
Got plastic bottle caps?
Thinker Toys and Thinker Tots at Ala Moana Center are now collecting plastic caps and lids for art projects to be displayed in store windows on Earth Day, April 22. The plastic caps will be recycled in a partnership with the Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii (BEACH), a non-profit group which educates others about the dangers of plastic marine debris.
Creative director Ka‘ohu Cooper says last year, the store made a display out of recycled newspapers for Earth Day, and was inspired to go with plastic caps this year, especially with the mission of educating the public about them.
He hopped online, googled "bottle cap recycling Hawaii" and found information by BEACH, which resulted in the new project.
"As I researched it, I realized how damaging to the environment they are," he said.
When the caps end up in waterways and oceans, they can be ingested by marine life and more often than not become part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
One display will represent the ocean, according to Cooper, and the other will be an abstract art piece.
Cooper is looking for about 20,000 plastic caps (No. 2, 4 and 5) for the ocean display, and also about 20,000 for the abstract display. Recyclable caps generally include water bottle caps, drink caps, shampoo bottle caps and vitamin bottle caps. They need to be clean, with no metals inside.
BEACH is a non-profit group that brings awareness and solutions to marine debris through environmental education and plastic reduction campaigns. BEACH volunteers also remove all sizes of marine debris from Hawaii shorelines.
Cooper says to put clean caps in a bag and label them with his name.
Thinker Toys and Thinker Tots (on Level 1 near Centerstage at Ala Moana Center) are locally owned retail businesses that sell fun educational toys, including wood puzzles, organic stuffed animals, craft science kits and games. Thinker Tots is geared towards the younger baby and toddlers, while Thinker Toys is geared towards older kids. Only the Ala Moana stores are participating.
The caps will be transported to the mainland afterwards for recycling. Visit www.b-e-a-c-h.org for updates on additional collection sites as well as recycling efforts.
Goodwill Industries of Hawaii previously collected bottle caps at four of its locations for recycling, but stopped on Dec. 1, 2011.
Folks who have been saving their caps for recycling can bring them to Thinker Toys and Thinker Tots at Ala Moana Center.