18 Apr

As Earth Day approaches, Atlanta woman shows us how to turn trash into treasure

Source: WGCL

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) April 22nd is Earth Day.

On average, we each throw out close to six pounds of waste a day. But one Atlanta artist is turning her trash into treasure.

From light fixtures at Chick-fil-A to a chandelier inside the coke museum, you’ve likely seen Kathleen Plate’s work around the city.

“I love that what I do. When I put it out into the world that it has a story of its own. And it connects people and it gives them an opportunity to talk about environmental things,” says Plate.

A pioneer in Atlanta’s Eco Art Movement, Plate’s been turning tossed out glass into artistic treasures for the past 27 years.

“It wasn’t even a thing then,” continues Plate. “I’ve loved the shift that I’ve watched in the industry.

For Plate, being eco-friendly has always been a way of life.

“I grew up in a solar home. We had an organic garden. We composted.”

Salad dressing bottles get upcycled into earrings at Plate’s smart glass studio in Decatur and wine bottles into hanging sculptures.

“I think that’s important to create not just to recycle but to create something new out of it,” says Plate.

She holds a utility patent for inventing her signature glass circles that hang everywhere from the Westin Hotel in Chattanooga to establishments in California and New York.

Her projects start with the most gross, basic and nasty beer bottles and then it turns into this beautiful thing.

“I transform them. I cut them. I fire them. I create all raw materials out of the bottles,” says Plate.

It takes 4,000 years for a glass bottle to decompose and Americans throw out enough glass each week to fill 4 1/2 football stadiums. Which is why upcycling is crucial says Plate. And why she’s pushing Atlantans to do more.

“I would challenge people to take a moment and look at the things you’re buying. What is the story behind them and if you have the option to buy something that is upcycled, recycled is environmentally correct in its origin. That’s where I think we need to put our focus now.”

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