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One person sees an empty hummus container and thinks, “I need to add hummus to the grocery list.”

Another person sees the same empty hummus container and thinks, “I have an opportunity to change the world.” That is the inspiration behind Free Plastic, an organization turning trash into artistic treasure in South Florida.

“I realized that 3+ plastic hummus containers per week were adding up to a very large unrecycled, single-use plastic footprint,” Free Plastic co-founder Nathan Moyer said. “I am not good in the kitchen and can't make my own hummus anywhere close to the caliber of my favorite store-bought goodness. I watched [our] hummus containers pile up in our recycling bin. I had to make a choice: either learn to cook or build a non-profit recycling company that could actually recycle my favorite hummus containers. The decision was easy.”

Moyer and Amancio Paradela, two members of the LGBT community, ran with the idea and created Free Plastic, a non-profit focused on a cleaner and more artistic world. Things made of plastic spend some time in our cabinets, on our shelves, and in our fridges. But they spend most of their time in landfills or, worse, in the air as pollution.

Based in Oakland Park, the Free Plastic team has recycled plastic into various products including coffee tables, lazy Susans, wall art, jewelry, keychains, chess pieces, dice, tiles, letters, and more.


Cleaning & Creating

Free Plastic serves as a platform for artistic expression in addition to making Earth a little cleaner. They’ve partnered with local schools and O, Miami Poetry Festival to create and educate. The pandemic has slowed but not stopped their initiatives. Moyer said they've held virtual meetings to show how the process works.

“We taught about plastic recycling and then recycled nearly two pounds of plastic while our Zoom participants wrote poetry in a 45-minute poetry workshop led by the O, Miami team.”

Last year they restarted their in-person mission, spending two days at Miami Norland Senior High, teaching about plastics and recycling. They then collected plastic from the school grounds and spelled out the words to a poem the class wrote, “I will be comfortable in the skin I was born in and waltz into any room and be who I am harmonized with my heritage.”


Custom "Lazy River" Lazy Susan. Photo via

Hitting The Road

Another long-delayed project is set to start this autumn: hitting the road with their mobile unit. About 100 drinking straws can quickly go from discarded and environmentally dangerous waste to a beautiful piece of art, right on the spot.

“We shred them down to a mulch, heat the shred to 220C, and inject it into a mold to have a hexagon tile or letter in about 10 minutes. The cooling time is a few minutes, and the minor trimming and touch-ups take no time at all. With our injector and extruder on location, we estimate that we can recycle over one pound of ocean plastic per hour at the beach or at your community cleanup. That's not a lot considering some of these cleanups pull 100+ pounds of waste, but it is a scalable and replicable platform.”

Not all plastics are the same and some can’t be used in the mobile lab. But with the right type, art is just minutes away.

Moyer said Free Plastic isn’t against plastic. They celebrate that life-improving and life-saving materials are made of plastics. What they lament is that there is no plan for a piece of plastic after its initial use is over.

“In relation to our lives, plastic lives forever. Why would we ever think that a ‘forever material’ was disposable? We need to re-collect our previously used plastics and transform them into products that are meant to live long lives, cherished, responsible, forever lives.”

For more on Free Plastic and its community-based initiatives, visit

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