Every year, 6.4 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the ocean, killing over 1 million marine animals. A My Plastic Footprint turtle is created from 2.7 grams of single-use plastic waste, and represents one of the many animals lost due to plastic pollution.
I need to make 9,339 plastic turtles to represent my annual plastic footprint.
Until I have the opportunity to exhibit the turtles somewhere (and have created enough), I'm posting photos of individual turtles to Instagram.
Step 1: Pick the right plastic type
After some trial and error while experimenting with different plastic types, the turtles are made from Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE). This plastic types has a relatively low melting point and emits little in the way of fumes when heated.
Some plastic types should never be melted at home because of the toxic fumes they emit.
Step 2: Gently heat to soften
Because LDPE plastic is generally light, it can get blown around if not weighed down when put in an oven. Including an initial melting step (before working with a mould) helps create a more manageable plastic material.
Step 3: Pick a mould
Picking a smaller mould helps to get a more uniform finish. When I tried using some bigger moulds, the plastic didn't melt evenly.
I get all my silicone moulds from Crazy Nature.
The moulds pictured have been used a lot but are still going strong.
Step 4: Shape into moulds
This step involves a bit of back-and-forth from melting to moulding, until the plastic fits the mould correctly.
Step 5: Remove from mould
Make sure the plastic is cool before you remove it from the mould. Taking it out too soon will destroy the smooth finish. There will be some bubbles - this is the nature of the plastic used.