A sustainable legacy
Sustainability is a fundamental part of the Opera House. I love that fact that our air conditioning system uses the seawater from Sydney’s harbour in a non-impactful way to heat and cool the building, and that our one million ceramic tiles are self-cleaning. I love the fact that we took 15,000 unused plastic straws and commissioned Francesca to transform them into an arresting interpretation of Sydney Harbour, of which the Opera House is such an important part. It’s meta, but meaningful.
A few people raised concerns about the fact that we went single use plastic straw free, and these comments fell on pricked ears inside the Opera House. Their concerns are twofold, and join with voices from around the world. The first is that plastic straws make up around 4% of plastic waste in the world, and even less if you look at it by weight instead of volume. Their argument is, surely there were more impactful places for us to start than pesky plastic straws. The second concern came from people who have accessibility needs and require plastic straws who now feel singled out when visiting us. This was never our intention. . As a “community meeting place” we want to ensure that the Opera House is open and welcoming to everyone, which is why we continue to have plastic straws available to those who need them.
This project has taught us it’s easy to look past plastic waste, particularly when it’s small, and think there are bigger fish to fry. But it’s important for us all to take the first step towards sustainability and simply start somewhere. We hope this artwork inspires people to look twice at their own plastic waste and where they can, make a small change. Maybe even a creative one.
Plastic Islands will be on display for the general public in The Lounge, enabled by Samsung, from 17 September – 10 October.