Design Students Raise Awareness through Polluted Water Popsicles

Category : Science/Environment

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. custom / ˈkʌs təm / (adj) – designed and created for a particular need or purpose

    Custom pieces of furniture were made for their new house.

  2. rubbish / ˈrʌb ɪʃ / (n) – unwanted things; trash

    Water from the polluted river was filled with rubbish.

  3. put a spotlight on / pʊt əˈspɒtˌlaɪt ɒn / (idiom) – to bring people’s attention to a person or thing

    The government gave seminars to put a spotlight on water pollution.

  4. shock value / ʃɒk ˈvæl yu / (n) – something done to cause people to feel strong negative emotions (e.g. disgust, anger, fear)

    The TV ad used shock value to make people realize the need to save the oceans.

  5. creative / kriˈeɪ tɪv / (n) – someone who is creative, especially one who makes art as a profession

    A group of creatives started a photography project to raise funds for environmental research.


Read the text below.

Three design students from the National Taiwan University of the Arts created popsicles out of polluted water.

Their work, entitled “100% Polluted Water Popsicles,” started as a graduation project. The students collected 100 samples from ports, rivers, and other polluted water sources in Taiwan and froze them. Each popsicle also had custom packaging that gave information on its water source and possible contents.

The project was featured in several exhibitions in Taipei and was nominated for the 2017 Young Pin Design Award. For the exhibitions, the students recreated the original popsicles with polyester resin, a substance for making plastics.

The popsicles look colorful, but inside them are rubbish like bottle caps, wrappers, and many more. According to the students, they wanted to put a spotlight on water pollution in Taiwan through the project. However, they felt that the usual campaign methods were no longer effective in getting people’s attention. They made the popsicles visually appealing to create shock value when people find out what each piece is made of.

In recent years, other creatives have also used their art to raise awareness on environmental concerns.

In 2014, professor and activist Max Liboiron created a set of “sea globes.” They were like ordinary snow globes, except that they contained floating plastics collected from the Hudson River in New York. The sea globes represented New York City’s polluted waters.

Another environmental activist, Canadian photographer Benjamin Von Wong, launched a project called “Mermaids Hate Plastic” in 2016. He took photographs of mermaids swimming in a sea of plastic bottles for the campaign. According to Von Wong, he intended to use visuals to make an uninteresting yet important message viral.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What do you think will be the impact of “100% Polluted Water Popsicles” on people who see it? Discuss.
• Can using environmental art instead of typical campaign materials (e.g. posters, articles, websites) have a more significant impact on people? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think that using shock value is effective in getting an important message across? Why or why not?
• In your opinion, what are effective ways to communicate something you strongly believe in? Explain your answer.
Category : Science/Environment