The British born artist has created his floating retreat, using a base of over 100,000 empty plastic bottles. Called Joyxee Island the manmade island rests in Isla Mujeres Bay near Cancun.
The island has a house with 2 bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom. There’s also a dry compost ecological toilet. Rain is collected for running water coming out from conch shells. Sowa has built two ponds, a solar-powered waterfall and a small connecting river. There’s a wave-powered washing machine, solar panels providing electricity and even Internet connection.
As the floating foundations are made of nets containing plastic bottles, Rishi Sowa continues to add to the island, increasing its scale and making improvements. He declares it a work in progress. Construction on Joyxee began in 2007 after the destruction of his first attempt, (a floating construction of 250,000 bottles called Spiral Island) was destroyed by Hurricane Emily in 2005.
The concept of these islands does split opinion among the public and environmentalists. While the collection and recycling of discarded bottles is obviously a good thing, many argue that should Joyxee be damaged by the elements, the materials used to build it (mainly plastic bottles, sand, mangrove plants) will litter the waters of the Atlantic.
Thankfully the debris from the first island washed up upon the shore, and was collected with minimum environmental damage. The new island has also come to the attention of the Mexican authorities. The government has designated the construction an ‘Eco Boat’ meaning it now has to comply with all current boating regulations.
This has involved the purchase of fire extinguishers, life ring buoys and emergency kits. Sowa has funded these mandatory elements with a successful Kickstarter campaign netting over $9,000. Sowa’s unique island lifestyle has not stopped him from dating either. Former model, Jodi Bowlin from Knoxville, Tennessee now lives with him on Joyxee after they started a relationship via Facebook.
Due to the media coverage he gained after the construction and ultimate destruction of his first island, Sowa was able to gain the help of volunteers when building Joyxee. The current structure has been slowly built and added to over a period of 7 years.
Sowa’s first attempt, which he started in 1998, was even larger than his current home. The original Spiral Island measured 66-by-54-foot (20 m × 16 m).
Using nets filled with empty discarded plastic bottles for buoyancy, the living quarters were made plywood and bamboo, on which he poured sand and planted numerous plants,
At the time of its destruction, the island contained a two-story house, a solar oven, a self-composting toilet, and three beaches.