Polluted bottle pops

Collect some polluted water in a plastic bottle. Freeze it. Inspect it. Recycle it. The experience will teach children a great deal about water hygiene, and spark environmental consciousness in their hearts and minds.


Earlier this year, a group of exceedingly smart students at the National Taiwan University of Arts collected river water from one hundred different locations. Freezing sewage samples into lolly moulds, they disguised their festering findings as beautifully packaged ‘frozen treats’. The state of the water – littered with plastic and human waste – stunned the nation, and highlighted the extent of the country’s escalating pollution problem.

While you may not have a batch of polyester resin at your disposal, you can still be inspired by the group’s efforts. Try this similar but far simpler exercise to teach your child about the value and importance of responsible waste disposal. In a world where the volume of plastic in the ocean is estimated to outweigh the number of fish by 2050, it’s never too early to start.



  1. Take a trip to a nearby outdoor water source with your child. This could involve a visit to the beach, or to a nearby park pond, or to a seemingly picturesque lake. The closer to home the better – you’ll be carrying the sample from its source, and taking it back to your home freezer.
  2. Together, put on some protective gloves before collecting the water. Explain to your child why this is important.
  3. Carefully gather the water sample, filling the bottle to the top. Screw the lid back on tightly, and take the bottle home.
  4. Empty one of your freezer drawers, and leave the bottle to freeze up for an hour or so.
  5. Take the bottle out of the freezer, inspecting its contents closely. Is there anything interesting lurking in its murky depths? Is there anything that surprises your child?
  6. Keep an eye out for signs of human contamination within the water. Are there signs of plastic waste or other rubbish that has been disposed of in an irresponsible way?
  7. When you’ve finished inspecting the water, throw it away. We recommend disposing of it via an outside drain, rather than inside the house.
  8. Recycle the plastic bottle with your child, linking back to the plastic debris you may have observed within the sample itself. Why is it important to recycle plastic rather than to throw it in the bin? Why is it important that we must not drink the water we find in ponds and rivers? The activity itself is a great springboard for these kinds of conversations, and you can lead them as you see fit.