This Interactive Mirror Shows How You’re Turning Into The Plastic We’re All Eating

The ocean is filled with plastic. And maybe you are, too.

As the oceans fill up with around 19 billion pounds of plastic every year, tiny particles of trash are starting to show up in some seafood. In theory, the micro- and nano-scale plastic inside the oysters you eat then might also end up inside you.


A new art project makes the point that humans may be slowly becoming a little more plastic: When you look into a small pool, you can see the outline of your own body made up of floating ocean trash.

The installation uses sensors to rearrange the trash into a precise reflection. “It’s like a pixel grid of 601 small floating plastic pieces,” says artist Thijs Biersteker, who worked with Better Future Factory and Front404 to create Plastic Reflectic for the Plastic Soup Foundation and Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant.

“The ocean plastic gets pulled down underwater by a grid of 601 small waterproof engines . . . When you step in front of the infrared sensor it detects your outline and releases the plastic pieces in your exact shape.”

As someone moves, the plastic rearranges itself. “Slowly the idea of influencing this dirty, messy plastic soup comes to mind,” he says. Biersteker is hoping that the exhibit inspires visitors to start pressuring companies to use less plastic, or to design plastic that can be used in closed loops so it doesn’t end up in landfills or water.

He’s also working on redesigning plastic products himself. In a project with Better Future Factory, for example, he helped turn old car dashboards into recycled 3D printer ink.

“The other side to reduce the plastic problem would be to create products that show how it should be done, and turn them into profitable solutions that everyone can copy,” he says.


The art installation is on display at an office building in Amsterdam through December 18.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.