Wellingtonians were paid to scoop 400 plastic bottles out of the bucket fountain on Cuba St this afternoon.
The event was part of a wider call for the government to introduce a cash-for-trash bottle deposit scheme in New Zealand.
The pop-up bottle drive in Wellington demonstrated how a bottle deposit scheme would work if it was created.
The Kiwi Bottle Drive campaigner Holly Dove said people needed to see what effect plastic was having on the environment.
"Bringing bottles out and putting them in the bucket fountain is a really great way to show that our waste doesn't go away. You sort've think you put it in a bin and that it magically gets totally recycled and turned back into this other product.
"Actually, it often doesn't - and we really need strong regulations and good systems in place."
Ms Dove said recycling needed to be looked at more closely.
"A lot of people put their litter, put their bottles for instance in kerbside recycling, or they put it in public place recycling in town - and a lot of that doesn't get recycled because it's contaminated.
"What we're seeing is that New Zealand has a really, really low recycling rate - and it means all of this stuff ends up mostly in landfills, which then, obviously, is really a big problem for greenhouse gas emissions."
A petition, which has about 13,000 signatures, is being created to bring awareness to the group's solution to plastic pollution.
It will be given to the Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage at Parliament next Tuesday.