Seeing Through Recycled Bottles

I am very much happy to write something about a very good friend I have met while we were volunteering together during the first few months after typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan left our country devastated. Luckily, when I moved back to Manila, we realized we were neighbors that we started hanging out in his place. In one of my visits, he showed me his new-found love: recycled bottles! From that time on, I have seen him improve and grow into a beautiful soul that reflects on every piece of bottle he gets to recycle.

As an active volunteer for Greenpeace Philippines, Ian Sarra has been introduced to a new world where he became more aware of the different environmental issues we have been facing. Being a volunteer for environmental causes has been fun and full of adventures where he acquired new skills, connected and made friends with the people he has been meeting along the way.

Just recently, Ian has been inspired to embark on another direction to make something out of used bottles. But like most people who got to discover their purpose in life, his new passion to make art through bottles was triggered when his partner got a stroke and had to be admitted to the hospital last year. During this time, a friend of his partner who owns Detoxify Bar suggested for them to do alternative healing through vegetable detox concoctions. For a week, his partner received 5 bottles a day from their friend.

Instead of throwing them away, Ian was fascinated with the shape of each bottle that he bought some copper wire and started drawing some designs as soon as his partner recovered. He was able to recreate the bottles into art with stories inspired by his partner’s health condition: suffering, medication, renewed lifestyle, rehabilitation, recovery and how their relationship was made stronger by all these changes that happened in their lives together.

Bottle 1: Changes

“Changes” — One of Ian’s first bottles inspired by his partner’s health recovery.

Bottle: Follow the Lead

“Follow the Lead” — One of Ian’s first bottles inspired by his partner’s health recovery.

Through social media, he started to share his new hobby with their family and friends who gave him positive comments and encouraged him to do more. With the things he learned as a volunteer, he has been  aware of the improper waste disposal  done by most people that he decided to contribute in his own way by collecting used bottles in his community. He showed his neighbors what he has been doing with the bottles and explained his plans. As a positive response, his neighbors were more than willing to give him their used bottles. Since then, his neighbors would send him a message and he would collect them door to door.

Tres Lampadario

“Tres Lampadario”

Bottles 2

“Leo” — He found the holder for this design in his father’s tool box that he named it after him.

He is very much thankful to his family who have always been there to support him in his creative way of helping the environment and spreading the word to their friends. They are his inspiration in making some of his first bottle art. And most especially to his partner who is both his critic and number one supporter as he grows beautifully with his recycled bottles.

Bottles 5

“Banay ni Natividad” (Family of Natividad, his grandmother)

Bottles 3

“La Familia”

Bottles and Wire

“Igsuon” (Brother and Sister)

His recycled bottles have been made both for aesthetic and home use. With his previous experience working in a cruise ship as a secretary to the chef, Ian is also inspired to recreate the bottles into something they can use for the kitchen. Since he and his partner both love to cook for themselves and their friends, his first set of bottles have been hanging around their own kitchen. Their own place is decorated with things that other people would usually dispose of – from old magazines as their wallpaper, labels of old clothes, keys and locks, pull tabs of cans, his partner’s MRI turned into a lampshade up to his old mountain bike which is now hanging on the ceiling.


Ian has his hands full of these bottles that he had to use the laundry area to accommodate space.

Ian Sarra

Ian Sarra seeing through his bottles

“Everything is connected. Giving importance to things no matter how small or big they are will lead into something bigger than what you expect, not just for yourself but for everybody else,” Ian shared.  “Since the time I have started making art through these bottles — friends, friends of my friends and even establishments that serve beverage in bottles have reached out to me to turn their bottles into something useful. I have been meeting so much people through my bottles and it’s really overwhelming in a good way!”

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SuperMom • Human Canvas • Island life • Coffee & Tea • Travel • Mover & Volunteer

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19 Responses

  1. ian sarra says:

    Salamat, Day.

  2. Rea says:

    What a great idea to recycle bottles! And his creations are so awesome! His creativity was definitely put into good use.

  3. Anne says:

    These are amazing! Honestly, I’m a bottle hoarder myself. I often tend to keep all those sandwich spread, ketchup and wine bottles for my DIY projects. They’re cost efficient and environment friendly too. I say upcycle! I would have to say that the creations featured here are really unique and very creative. :)

  4. Jazmine says:

    We have so many unused bottles and glasses at home but we never even bothered to recycle them. His creative ideas has inspired me to recycle more to lessen garbage in our community.

    • onlyvic says:

      Yey! Great to know that. I am very much looking forward to know more about it when you get started. The purpose of this post is to share the idea and encourage more people to do the same. Glad to have you on board! :)

  5. Tara says:

    The bottles look beautiful! Where do I find more of his creations?

    • onlyvic says:

      Hi Tara! Ian is based in Manila where most of his bottles can be found but he comes to Cebu (his hometown) regularly. The great thing about what he does is his can do it anywhere. :)

  6. Janine says:

    Wow these bottle creations or bottle art (?) is amazing! We don’t really recycle bottles since we sell it to junk shops which what I believe they will use for recycling too. Haha!

  7. Katherine says:

    These ideas are really creative and resourceful! Such beautiful pieces of art!

  8. Very crafty! Unique, too. I envy this person’s talent to create something out of a scrap material. :) I have a collection of bottles, too, but I haven’t really touched them. I think it’s time I tap into my inner creative self! Haha

    • onlyvic says:

      My friend Ian isn’t really the kind of artist who’s been making art since he was a kid. Ian just brought in his different experiences in one place and made them into bottle art. But I agree, it takes creativity as well to think of different designs. But once you’ve done one, more ideas will come up to you. Get started and let me know when you have one! The purpose of this post is to share the idea and encourage more people to do the same. <3

  9. I have some bottles at home. If only he’s in Cebu now, perhaps I could met him and donate the bottles. He’s great! Thanks for writing an article about him, I’m now looking ways to upcycle my bottles too. Hashtag #VivaBotelya!

    • ian sarra says:

      Hi Fernan.would love to pick up ur bottles soon. i will be doing my workshop in my homtown, Daanbantayan, partiulary in sitio mayjo. Thats my moms place. i started this all womens group wayback 3yrs ago. With the help of some friends now they have livelihood programs and after the super typhoon, they become more eager to learn more skills.

  10. ian sarra says:

    Hi guys. I will be in Cebu this month. im going to meet some people/friends from YLC and Lets do it phils. Also i will be in my hometown (daanbantayan) to give workshop to a group that i started in my sitio.

    • Buddy says:

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  11. Seg Gajol says:

    Nice Creations ,
    how can we avail and buy some of the designs , ,?/

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