When it comes to pollution, one of the most detrimental issues we are dealing with as a society, besides global warming, is the massive build-up of plastic waste floating within our oceans. Did you know that each years there is approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic which ends up in our oceans? That’s approximately 3% of all the world’s plastic that’s manufactured in a single year. Pretty staggering numbers, huh? The plastic just continues to add up and estimates put it at approximately 110 billion pounds as I sit here drinking water from my plastic PET bottle, writing this story.

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It’s impossible to know the real impact that this waste is having on the world’s largest ecosystems, but one Dutch artist named Peter Smith wants to at least help alleviate the problem. Smith has launched a campaign in which he seeks to collect over 100,000 PET bottles (typically the everyday water bottle is made from PET) so that he can 3D print a statue of Madonna. No not the ‘Like a Virgin’ Madonna. That wouldn’t make much sense. The Madonna we are talking about is Michelangelo’s depiction of Mary and Child, which he carved into marble during the 16th century.l4

“The Plastic Madonna project wants to show the huge amount of power humanity has. We are so strong and numerous that by doing just one thing – almost nothing actually – we can achieve great things. That’s what we would like to prove with the Plastic Madonna project,” states Peter Smith.

So how will this whole project actually get off the ground? It already has. Smith has placed bins around the Netherlands in which he will be collecting PET bottles that people have picked up off the streets. So far he has collected a total of 9,255 bottles, equating to just under 10% of his 100,000 bottle goal. Smith is also looking for 1 euro donations to help make this idea a reality.

Once the bottles are collected, he then intends to use them as feedstock for multiple 3D printers. The model of the statue, which still has yet to be created, will be broken down into 1,000 sections, allowing each section to fit within the build envelope of a single 3D printer. Once printed the pieces will all be fused together. Smith hopes to get international Dutch model Doutzen Kroes to model for the ultimate design of the statue, but we are not quite sure how much progress this idea is making.

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A prototype of the statue

Once the entire statue is assembled, which is estimated to be a staggering 12 feet in length, Smith wants to place it on the Rio de Janeiro beach in Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympic games, taking place between August 5-21.

“Approximately 1 billion people will watch the Olympic Games,” writes Smith on this blog. “Along with the sports competitions, beautiful films of the city will also be shown. Of course the Christ the Redeemer statue will be shown, and hey, what’s that lying on the beach, a Madonna with child? I can see what it looks like before me, the Plastic Madonna in the foreground with the huge Jesus statue in the background.”

Smith hopes that such a project will bring attention to the vast amount of waste being dumped into our oceans or carried into the oceans by runoff. The amount of litter in the Netherlands, much less the entire world, is certainly a major socioeconomic issue, one which takes a team of millions of people to make a difference. With the reach that the Olympic Games have, along with the incredible technology of 3D printing, Smith hopes that his project can ultimately make that difference. If you’d like to be one of those who donate to this particular project, whether its money or litter you’ve picked up, please do so by checking out the Plastic Madonna website.

Let us know your thoughts on this awesome initiative. Have you participated? If not, why? Discuss in the Plastic Madonna forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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