By Josefin Dolsten/(JTA) – Tourists and locals wandering around Flatiron Plaza in downtown Manhattan were met with an unusual sight: a 20-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty standing in a steel cage filled with empty plastic bottles and metal cans. On the other side of the eye-catching set-up, titled “Drowning Liberty,” were booths with people handing out glasses of seltzer. The installation, on display last week, was organized by SodaStream, the Israeli company that sells at-home carbonation kits, together with the Oceanic Society. Its goal is to raise awareness of the negative consequences of single-use plastic (and drum up business for the company while they’re at it). Passers-by were encouraged to sign SodaStream’s sustainability pledge, promising to eschew one-use bottles for reusable ones. The company claims that making soda at home in reusable bottles results in “less plastic manufactured, less plastic waste and less transport of bottled beverages.” “We have no choice,” SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said in a statement. “We have to go reusable. Annual plastic production is skyrocketing and the U.S. is one of the biggest polluters in the world.” Among those who stopped by to sign the pledge on Tuesday was Adrian Grenier, an actor known for his role on the TV series “Entourage.”
SodaStream was the target of anti-Israel boycotts because it maintained a factory in a West Bank settlement. (The company said at the time that it employed Jews and Arabs.) In 2015, SodaStream closed its West Bank location and moved its operations to southern Israel.