Unn Sophary: Waste Plastic, Glass Bottle Re-used to Art

Casting light on a longstanding problem is only part of what Unn Sophary does. She takes waste plastic and glass bottles, turns them into practical and elegant accessories – and educates her community too.

Unn Sophary: Turning waste into resourceful lampshades

Singapore, 10 September 2011. Unn Sophary or better known as Pari s a Cambodian eco-campaigner and bar owner who has extended her work from a glass cutting hobby into a serious ongoing work. She takes discarded plastic and glass bottles, and, using the upper part of the bottles, she crafts them into artistic lights. The remaining bottle parts she makes into drinking glasses, candle holders and so on. It's re-use, art and utility all in one go.

Examples of her work can be seen in Little Pari Jazz Bar in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, where she and other owners are committed to reducing as much waste as possible, and turning unavoidable waste back into resource.

Her main purpose in using these crafted glass and plastic bottles is to sharereuse and cycling knowledge with the younger generation in the community itself, to not throw waste on the ground, and keep it to be used for other purposes. She delights in changing rubbish from a simple and useful source; and as well to return love back to earth.

Ultimately, she has a very strong belief that in the nearest future she would be able to spread this creative re-use idea to her whole community. Gaia Discovery's Mallika Naguran asked Unn Sophary about her work and her ambitions.

What is your work about?

Used plastic bottles are cut into strips then designed around a cut used glass bottle to make this delightful lampshade

My work is about taking waste glass and plastic bottles to turn them to be as useful materials, mainly light fixtures as drinking glasses, lamps and vases.

What prompted you to do this?

I got the idea to re-use waste from some very good friends. Then, from one day to another, I kept seeing bottles lying around so I started to collect them. Initially, I only used them as drinking glasses, vases and so on. I then realised that there were too many plastic bottles around me! So I sat down and started to cut them, and to put them together. I thought they would work well for lights so I went to get a light bulb and installed them. I didn’t have a design or any plan of what to do with them. It just happened.

What are your motivations and goals?

My goal is to raise the green living awareness for the community and to be a part of nature. I've realised that I started to have a gap between nature and my daily life. It is sad to see plastic taking over the natural world.

Who buys your re-used plastic products?

Soft lights pervade from a shrouded lampshade from re-used waste

So far I do not have them on the market, but I am planning to get some on the market and sell them to anyone who support the idea of waste resource. I do not deliberately choose who to sell these products to but I would like to see Cambodian families, as well to everyone around the world using them. So that they can share with the community about the environment and lead healthier lives.

How much work is involved in making these?

The work I put in is mainly my free time. I enjoy making a bottle into something completely different from what it was and still keep the shape of what it was.

Can you take orders outside of Cambodia?

I would love to provide the orders out of Cambodia, but it will take some time to send them over to other countries - but we can definitely do that. If someone would like to use our waste-to-art products, the shipping may be quite expensive and the post does not really work well here. But we can try!

Want to contact Unn Sophary (Pari) to see if she can ship you a re-used lampshade, candleholder or glass? Contact her at unnsophary AT gmail DOT com