Deeposits - underwater collection and returning of refundable bottles and more


artistic intervention: collecting and returning refundable bottles underwater to fund sustainability.

How I became a deposit diver

After an online dispute about the proposed EU ban of single-use disposable plastic, I went snorkeling at the Kulkwitzer and found a bunch of disposable tableware. So I collected it and continued my dive finding more objects that do not belong in a lake. Some of these were plastic bottles and/or refundable bottles. At Makerfaire Berlin the team of mifactori
presented the PET palace project. Many people asked us about the value of the installation because we removed the labels of the bottles. Because in Germany, you can only return plastic bottles with an intact label but glass bottles are recognized by the machines using shape and weight. So, this makes plastic bottles lose their return value much easier but glass bottle can go back into the system even after years underwater.

For me, this activity combines what I love: snorkeling, exploring, treasure hunting and helping the ecosystem. Besides that, I make money to fund to the OSCE Days 2019.


  • have fun
  • explore
  • find awesome stuff
  • get stupid rich … well maybe
  • try creating an open campaign/project
  • document everything

Social Media Profiles

How it is done

1. Gear

  • diving goggles
  • snorkel
  • fins
  • equipment / collection
  • go pro hero3 (lent from an @expanding-focus) to document
    • with custom grip including 2 scrunchies found at expediton1
  • diving bag + carabiner hook + big plastic container as buoy and collection station

2. Places

House lake Kulkiwitzer See Leipzig one of the best diving lakes in Germany. The clear water makes it much easy to cover a lot of ground.

On tour so far

  • Schlachtensee Berlin
  • Rhine River Basel
  • quarry lake Leipzig
  • Walensee Switzerland

3. Search and collect

I mostly look for unusual shapes and colors. The color leads to plastic trash as most bottle colors blend it. Any kind of net is useful to store the objects. I use my diving bag to store what I find because going back to the shore takes too much time. Also underwater storing will lead to some items floating away.

4. Clean

  • Remove mussels and other sea life that might have grown on the object on the place where you find.
  • Clean the bottle on site, many are full of sediments that should stay where they are.
  • Before returning the bottle make sure it is as clean as a bottle you would normally return. If that is not possible put it into glass recycling.

5. Return

  • cash in refundable bottles (only clean enough ones)
  • put the glass bottles into the recycling
  • plastics and other unusable material right now I put in the trash bins at the lake
  • keep any useful stuff that you found

6. Document

It started an Instagram Deeposits where I will post for now. I link this post to provide information and draw people to the forum.

Hashtags: I will use #take3forthesea #PickUp3 #deeposit … right now searching for more, any input is very welcome

I am planning to use Buffer or something similar to post regularly on multiple platforms.

Slogan first ideas

  • go deep & do good
  • go deep, find stuff, have fun

Social Media

  • I started taking pictures on expedition2 on 7 June and expedition3 on June 9
  • then I started choosing the picture
  • the real documentation start with this post on 10 June
  • I work on the picture and set up the social media page after work to be able to release everything before the OSCE days in Berlin where I will present Deeposits


  • for the pictures I recommend the Go Pro Mode that take multiple pictures at once because it is hard to be steady underwater. But usually, I set it to 3 in 0.5 secs a one comes out fine,
  • Time consumption: choosing and cropping the picture takes a lot of time for me. For the first Videos it was ok because I did only minimal edits for the first one.


So far, most in the east shore area of the Kulkwitzer See

Season 1 2018

1 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig

  1. June 2018

Here I got the idea and didn’t have a camera to document with me.


  • 6 returnable glass bottles
  • 2 glass bottles
  • 1 plastic bottle
  • some plastic waste including about 8 pieces of disposable tableware

Notable Objects

  • a small garden shovel perfect for my balcony planting
  • 2 scrunchies used for securing the camera
  • a nice sock acting as go pro transport protection

Cash: 48 cents

2 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig

  1. June 2018
  • 1 refundable plastic bottle still with the label
  • 1 refundable beer can
  • 3 refundable glass bottles only, one will make its ways OSCE Days #berlin
  • 7 glass bottles
  • 1 can
  • a small bag full of plastic mostly packaging
  • a metal grid
  • a broken dog toy

Cash: 66 cents

3 & 3.5 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig

  1. June 2018
  • 3 returnable glass bottles
  • 1 big glass bottle that somebody put on a tree

Notable Objects

  • some toys for Fritz
  • a fishing lure
  • some mean broken bottles
  • a big intact plastic water container

Cash: 24 cents

4 Schlachtensee Berlin


at the OSCEdays Berlin

  • 10 bottles with deposit
  • 4 glass bottles
  • some plastic

Notable Objects

  • a full beer

Cash: 80 cents

5 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


  • mostly plastic and other trash

Notable Objects

  • a bar stool

Cash: 0 cents

6 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


  • 1 glass bottle
  • a big pile of plastic trash

Notable Objects

  • a construction site lamp
  • a big plastic basket
  • an old egg, but we did put it back

Cash: 8 cents

7 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


  • 7 glass bottles
  • broken glass
  • plastic

Notable Objects

  • 2 matching socks

Cash: 32 cents

8 Quarry lake Leipzig


  • old glass bottles
  • cans
  • plastic

Notable Objects

  • a heavy metal sink

Cash: 0 cents

9 Rhine Basel


  • 4 glass bottles
  • cans
  • plastic

Notable Objects

  • 2 full beers
  • a large white towel

Cash: 0 cents

10 Lake Walen (Walensee) Switzerland


  • no underwater finds only picking up shore trash

Cash: 0 cents

11 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


the biggest find so far clearly

  • 11 glass bottles
  • many cans
  • big pile of plastic

Notable Objects

  • 2 car tires
  • bike tire
  • bike front part
  • car license plate from Nuremberg

Cash: 73 cents

12 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


  • 2 bottles with deposit
  • some bottles
  • some plastic

Cash: 16 cents

13 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


  • 9 bottles with deposit and a can with deposit
  • 7 glass bottles
  • some mean glass shards
  • a lot of plastic
  • many cans

Notable Objects

  • a bowling ball
  • motorbike parts
  • a camping broken camping chair

Cash: 89 cents

Season 2 2019

14 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


  • 6 bottles with deposit and a can with deposit
  • 2 glass bottles
  • 2 plastic bottles
  • a little plastic

Cash: 48 cents

15 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


  • 9 bottles with deposit
  • 1 plastic bottle
  • 1 big glass shard
  • 2 old aluminum cans
  • some plastic

Notable Objects

  • 4kg of diving weights
  • a towel


  • a big catfish around 1m long

Cash: 72 cents

16 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


  • non of the usual bottles or trash (first time in Kulki)

Notable Objects

  • tire (3rd in Kulki)
  • big very rusty bowl
  • toy on the shore


  • we touched and spotted an eel that was living in the tire

Cash: 0 cents

17 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


  • no bottles or can
  • a lot of plastic trash
  • a glove


  • 2 crayfish one lived in the glove, the other in a plastic champagne glass
  • many big fish at a underwater diver training platform

Cash: 0 cents

18 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


  • 1 plastic Deeposits bottle
  • a lot of plastic
  • 1 can

Notable Objects

  • a pacifier


  • a diving Great Crested Grebe (Haubentaucher)

Cash: 25 cents

19 Kulkwitzer See Leipzig


  • 5 bottles with deposit
  • 1 can with deposit
  • 6 glass bottles
  • 5 glass shards from broken bottles
  • 1 plastic bottle
  • some plastic
  • many cans
  • a big plastic sheet

Notable Objects

  • a football
  • a big plastic canister
  • a working thermometer
  • a tar bucket


  • we discovered an under water staircase with many fish
  • a diving baby Great Crested Grebe (Haubentaucher)
  • many small fish

Cash: 65 cents

Expeditions 20 - 3

not yet documented please see Deeposits Instagram for the outcome

Account Balance 29th of September 2019: 9,44 €

this post is a work in progress I am still busy with editing and uploading all the photos

Getting involved

  • Help me improve this post, mainly the language
  • follow and share, help me share it, give tips for hashtags
  • Get wet and DiCoReDo: Dive Collect Return Document, post what you find here and on social media using the same hashtags
  • provide feedback
  • Do an expedition! Get wet, find stuff, cash in & document.


License for pictures

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Thank you, Michael and Leipzig team.