Recycling Project Raises Awareness

An exhibition in the Fish Creek art gallery is raising awareness about the ever increasing need to recycle plastics and to stop the throw away, convenience-based culture supported by production of single-use plastics. Using an aquatic theme, a variety of plastics were repurposed into sculptures including a large sea turtle and jellyfish made from plastic bags. While fun and engaging, the reality is that our planet and particularly ocean life are threatened by plastics that are discarded.

“We were speaking with a resident who was interested in recycling. That got us thinking about what we could do to promote it within the community. We came up with a recycling and ocean theme for the art gallery. The art studio started collecting plastic containers and other recyclables that would normally be put into the community recycling bins,” said creative facilitator Jeff Chan. “We made a call out to residents to bring us their recyclables, and we got quite the assortment in a short period of time – water bottles, cutlery, food containers, old phones, plastic bags, batteries, even an old radio.”

Residents joined in and together they created the sculptures and information displays that encourage and inform about the need to reduce, reuse and recycle. Our Fish Creek community recycles some 1,200 lbs. each week, and Garrison Green, about 900 lbs. Interesting facts about recycling were researched and included in the displays, such as the problems caused by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is three times the size of France floating between Hawaii and California, and what’s being done to clean it up.

“The centrepiece is a giant sea turtle made of plastic bottles, cutlery and other discarded items. It was a fun sculpture to build – a collaboration between the studio and the residents who were key in developing the theme and the displays,” said Jeff.

For the title of the display, the word “recycle” was created out of old batteries. The Jellyfish hanging from the ceiling were created by residents and family members using an assortment of colourful plastic bags.

To further the conversation around repurposing, creative facilitator Amy Bouchard purchased used ceramic plates and had residents adorn them with new designs to give them a new lease on life. Creative facilitator Chanel Traub added to the mix by creating a mountain range with the residents comprised of rolled paper from old magazines, giving yet another example of a material that is regularly discarded.

“The display has really raised awareness within the community about the need to recycle, and is encouraging everyone to think about reusing the plastics we buy rather than simply discarding them,” said Jeff.

Resident Maureen Miller agrees. “The display is amazing. It really made me aware of the impact plastics have on our oceans. We need to do something about it. The display talks about a machine that scoops plastic out of the rivers before they go into the ocean. I was very impressed by that. It’s clear we have a lot to learn about the full journey that plastics take from manufacture to disposal.”

Nick and Diane Jongeling jumped in to help with the project. “We always recycle, so the project interested us,” said Nick. “It looks great! It was nicely done!”

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