Sure We Can Lights Up PET Lamps

At the PET Lamp exhibit at Sure We Can. A variety of the cultural styles of lampshades that plastic bottles are weaved into by artisans. Photo Credit: Lori Doyon

Sure We Can is a one-of-a-kind place located at 219 McKibben.  More specifically their website describes it as, “a non-profit recycling center, community space and sustainability hub in Brooklyn where canners, who are people that collect cans and bottles from to streets to make a living, come together with students and neighbors through recycling, composting, gardening and arts.” Sure We Can has supported can and bottle collectors since 2009. Cans and bottles are redeemed for five cents each.

Entrance of Sure We Can at 219 McKibben Photo Credit: Lori Doyon

On May 18 and 19 they focused on the arts with the PET Lamp exhibition. PET Lamp believes “in reuse as the counterpoint to recycling.”  They took inspiration from the form of a bamboo Japanese tea stirrer and saw that by turning a plastic bottle into that formation it could be woven into a lampshade. Weavers’ work featured in the show originated from Ghana, Ethiopia, Thailand, Columbia, Australia, and Japan. They each turned a plastic bottle into a lampshade in their cultural style. Visit www.petlamp.org to learn more or even purchase a lamp.

Plastic bottles weaved into a Bolgatanga style lampshade from Ghana as part of PET Lamp. Photo Credit: Lori Doyon


PET Lamp’s design team flew in from Madrid and spent a week curating the exhibit. Placing lamps in shipping containers with bags of collected cans and bottles.

“This collaboration is such a cool thing, and an opportunity for us to do things at Sure We Can we’ve never tried before! We’re very lucky to have use of a space that can host events like this, and that has grown over the past decade to become a unique nexus of hard work, art, sustainability, and community. However, our capacity to keep doing fun stuff like this, or even to continue our work at all, isn’t guaranteed, especially not in New York City,” said Ryan Castalia, exec. dir. of Sure We Can

Plastic bottles weaved into a Pikul style lampshade from Thailand as part of PET Lamp. Photo Credit: Lori Doyon


Sure We Can is currently fundraising for $50K by July 30 in order to secure the McKibben site and protect them from eviction. You can donate and learn more at: www.mightycause.com/story/Savesurewecan  

Part of Sure We Can’s lot. They are trying to raise $50K to protect them from eviction.  You can donate at: www.mightycause.com/story/Savesurewecan Photo Credit: Lori Doyon
How PET Lamps are made, inspired by a bamboo Japanese tea stirrer. Photo Credit PET Lamp Project
Plastic bottles weaved into an Abyssinian style lampshade as part of PET Lamp. Photo Credit: Lori Doyon
Food was served and live music played at the PET Lamp exhibit at Sure We Can Photo Credit: Lori Doyon

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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