British artist Richart Sowa has created a man-made island from over 100,000 plastic bottles, where he lives with his wife and dog in a three-story house.
Joyxee Island sits 30 yards off the coast of Isla Mujeres, a Mexican island in the Caribbean.
In an extraordinary example of recycling, Sowa began building Joyxee Island in late 2007. He finished it by the end of 2008, and has now opened the 8,000-square-foot island for tours.
The base of the man-made island is made up of nets filled with plastic bottles. The extraordinary home is solar-powered, and even has a washing machine powered by waves, two swimming ponds, a waterfall, and internet connection. His goal is for the island to be entirely self sufficient; he is already growing vegetables and herbs.
Beginning with Spiral Island
Joyxee Island is actually the second bottle island built by Sowa. The first — Spiral Island — was located in a lagoon near Puerto Aventuras, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico south of Cancún; Sowa began constructing it in 1998.
He filled nets with empty discarded plastic bottles to support a structure of plywood and bamboo, on which he poured sand and planted numerous plants, including mangroves. The island featured a two-story house, a solar oven, a self-composting toilet, and three beaches. He used some 250,000 bottles for the 66-by-54-foot (20 m × 16 m) structure. The mangroves were planted to help keep the island cool, and some of them rose up to 15 feet (4.6 m) high.
Almost all of the sand Sowa used for Spiral Island I was taken from the end of the beach, where it came up against the man-made rock pier on the edge of the canal system where the Island was tied.
The island was destroyed by Hurricane Emily in 2005. The island was washed completely onto the beach in one piece, and a small proportion of the bags of bottles washed up on the beach away from where it landed. The roots of the 7-year old, 7-metre (23 ft) tall mangroves were intertwined through the island’s base and the strong net that was wrapped totally under the whole island helped to keep it together.
Sowa started to rebuild his floating environment island in the waters of Isla Mujeres, located near Cancun. Joyxee Island contains about 100,000 PET bottles and measures a size of 82 feet in diameter. Rishi’s new floating green island has also three beaches, a beautiful house, even a solar-powered waterfall and a small river, a wave-powered washing machine and solar panels. It opened for tours in August, 2008.
Plants like Mangroves actually provide stability to the island. Their growing roots wind through the mesh bags – tying everything together. Sowa continuously adds more bags of plastic bottles – growing and expanding the island. He grows numerous plants on the island including; palm trees, sea grapes, mangroves, cactus, spinach, tomatoes, melons, lemons, herbs and flowering shrubs. Sowa keeps building day by day, so Joyxee will always be a work of art in progress.
Richart firmly believes we can reverse the adverse effects our modern lifestyle is having on the Earth’s ecological balance. By creating islands, which become self-sustainable as corals – marine life grows on the underside, and mangroves, fruit and vegetables are grown on the topside.
This gives oxygen back to an otherwise ever decreasing atmosphere. And creates a root integrated, flexible and resilient habitable Island – which can grow big enough to be able to eventually survive, and flourish on the ocean.
For futher information:
An in-depth article is available at:
Also see “Plastic Bottle Floating Island – The Richart Sowa Story” that includes a description of a tour to the island.