SURESH RAMPHUL

It’s fascinating how some people can make the best use of discarded objects. Turning plastic spoons into mirror frames, picture frames into trays, scrap jeans or plastic bottles into stationery holders is not only an activity with plenty of fun but it can also be a means to earn some extra money for the family.

SURESH RAMPHUL

Old newspapers are used to clean window panes or to make flowers, or necklaces. Magazines are used to produce decorative pieces, baskets for shopping or photo frames. Some people come up with the idea of turning clothes peg (clothes pin in American English) into vase storage.
What would probably have been thrown away is given a second life. All it demands is a bit of intelligence and a lot of imagination.
Dry palm leaves are an eyesore and occupy space in the yard. They take time to rot. But they have an economic utility. Brooms are made to be sold. The hard parts are mechanically converted into ashtrays, plates, spoons and other kitchen utensils.

When we cut our overhanging branches from our trees, we are at a loss what to do with them. But to imaginative minds, nothing is impossible. You see wood being used to create astonishing sculptures, like Christmas trees or clothes tree – a wooden pole with hooks branching from the top on which coats and hats may be hung. Wood is used to carve animal-shaped objects with decorations.

Old tyres are often thrown away. They may represent a threat to the environment and to our health. But these tyres can be used creatively. Children are amazed to see their parents cutting a tyre into two, cleaning the parts thoroughly and painting them in bright colours before hanging them on the wall. Tyres are placed under trees in schools for students to sit and relax. They are put in strategic places in the school premises and filled with earth to plant flowers and shrubs. It’s an original way of making the environment attractive. Another benefit is that once students have learnt about making the best use of tyres and other trash, they can apply the knowledge at home and urge parents to do the same.

Children learn that waste can be reduced and the life of certain materials can be extended. They discover that some small gestures can lead to environmental protection. When children put into practice what they gain at school, it gives them immense satisfaction and they get the praise of the parents. Such valorization is important in their development. They become aware that it pays to be imaginative, for their creations can be sold as gifts.
Whether it is a piece of metal or a floppy disc, it may be useful to you if you are resourceful enough. Unsustainable materials are causing great damage to Nature. By using trash in intelligent ways, we will certainly not be ending the ecological disaster we are faced with today, but we will undoubtedly be helping to ease the problem.

Dead leaves, small branches, twigs, grass clippings, tea bags, fruit peelings, vegetable waste, shredded newspaper, food scraps, decaying fruits falling from trees are often collected in plastic bags and left for scavengers to carry to landfills. Since some years now, we have awareness campaigns being run by various bodies on composting. People are being educated to use trash as organic fertilizer. An overuse of pesticides in recent years has had serious consequences on people’s health. Compost enriches the soil, reduces reliance on chemical fertilizers, fights plant-related diseases and lowers carbon footprint.

Composting helps to diminish pressure on landfills.

Composting is not necessarily a new concept. More than fifty years ago, we used to put kitchen and yard junk as listed above in a corner in the backyard. We allowed Nature to do its work. It became manure. They were excellent fertilizers and we consumed healthy vegetables or fruits. Today the concept has been modernized. Special bins are used and they call the process composting.

When you are washing, you may notice that certain places are hard to reach with the traditional brush. Do you know that old toothbrushes can effectively clean these places? If you think twice about old clothes, you may find that you can make bags, aprons or patchwork quilts. You may have seen people cutting off the bottom half of plastic water bottles and using them to plant seedlings or to hang on trees with insect-killing medicines or to prepare varnish to apply on wood.

Artwork

Glass bottles, instead of being thrown here and there, can be beautifully decorated. Dozens of questions occur in the mind. How is it that some people come to give a new life to something that was deemed entirely useless? A little bit of thinking will reveal that it has much to do with talent. And suddenly you become aware that talent is a wonderful gift from God. You develop respect for the talented person. It inspires you to try ways of reusing old materials.

Some people can take an old floppy disc, cover it with colourful paper and hang it by means of a thread on the wall or in the car. They, too, are contributing to preserve the environment. Food containers, beverage caps, rubber, cardboard, milk cartons, paper towel rolls, jars, corks or boxes – anything can be transformed into valuable things in the hands of talented people. Talent needs to be encouraged and nurtured.

An interesting development is that eco-artists around the world, aware of waste disposal problems, are coming up with impressive ways of using recycled plastic bottles and other materials considered as garbage to produce enduring works of art. Odd items like buttons, marine debris and the like are used to create stunning art to send out the message that pollution is a real danger and that it is the responsibility of every one of us to keep the earth cleaner and safer. One artist has made a giant whale with some 70,000 recycled plastic bottles. These would have polluted the environment. They would have been washed down to the ocean and endangered the lives of fishes. Thanks to his imagination, this artist has used the discarded bottles for a good cause. Such initiatives must be encouraged.
Recycling reduces the need to dump our garbage anywhere. Fewer vehicles will travel to landfills. When we talk of dealing with trash, technology alone is not the answer, we need imagination as well.