The Wave

What was this about?

A Drop in the Ocean was a project about plastic on Brighton’s beaches. Our beaches.

It was
a beach-cleaning project,
a data-collecting project,
a conversation-starting project,
a conservation project,
a design and making project, and
a power-of-people project.

What was involved?

Every plastic bottle top found on our beaches and intercepted in cafes along the Brighton seafront from March to October 2018  was used to create a colourful wave on the fence along the Volks Railway. It shows how even small bits of plastic add up. And how seemingly small changes could add up too.

Why bottle tops?


Because many bottle tops float and take a long time to degrade. They are also small enough to be swallowed whole by birds and animals. Every bottle top collected is a bottle top that won’t be eaten by a turtle, swallowed by a seabird, or settle as microplastic particles inside a mussel.


Because bottle tops are among the top 5 items found on beaches. Over the last 30 years, more than 20 million bottle tops, caps and lids have been counted on beaches around the world. And those are just the ones that have been recorded.*


Because bottle tops aren’t currently widely recycled  and we have big plans to support bottle top reincarnation projects.


Because bottle tops are easy to collect, count and store. They’re also a bit like pixels, which make them perfect for designing infographics.

*For more bottle top stats take a look the Bottle Cap Report.

Who was involved?

So many wonderful people…

from all over Brighton & Hove helped to collect, count, make and install. Cafe owners, beach clean organisers, Cityclean’s beach cleaning teams, Volks Railway drivers, community groups, university students and smiling people who just wandered by and dropped in to help.

The plastic bottle tops we collected would tower over i360  and The Shard

In just 8 months in 2018, over 29,000 bottle tops were collected along the Brighton & Hove seafront and intercepted at beachside cafes, bars and kiosks. Stacked on top of each other they would be more than 2.5 times the height of the British Airways i360, the UK’s tallest moving observation tower, over 3 times the height of the London Eye, and over 100m higher than The Shard, London’s tallest skyscraper. And these were only a fraction of the bottle tops that were used, discarded and washed ashore along this sliver of coast during that time.