The student action project is connected to UN Sustainable Development Goals: quality education, sustainable cities and communities, reduced inequalities and responsible consumption. Further, the project focused on the ongoing efforts of our city waste management and TBSB Eco school to better educate our community to provide a better understanding of our community’s role in managing waste. Consumption continues to overproduce plastic waste and waste that is not being properly disposed of, both of which are major issues under climate change. The art pieces and installation are intended to provide creative and experiential learning through art, innovation through creating inclusive art tools using repurposed materials and creative climate action by our students and to inspire discussion about solutions to the urban waste problems.
The lead students in the project were inspired by sorting waste in the classroom and the school. Sorting classroom waste connected to their daily lives at home as well as building a bridge between school/home life to the community. The students were excited to use their creative expression to promote proper urban waste management and bring awareness to the ongoing plastic problem.
The actions the students took in this project were aimed at educating the public through creative expression focused on waste management. The students first learned about sorting waste in the classroom by using TDSB eco schools infographics and the TO Waste Wizard App. Next, the students collected plastic waste from our school snack program waste and also asked staff to bring in any plastic waste from home to be used in an art project. Then, the students participated in a presentation from UofT Trash Team about watersheds and how plastic contaminates our environment from a variety of sources. A project goal for the creative vision encouraged the use of plastic destined for landfill and not the use plastics that can be recycled. From there, the students took action to educate our families by distributing information from the City of Toronto about proper recycling and composting as well as distributing information to the school community to post by all classroom waste areas. Between the students initiating the project and the school staff, we were able to upcycle landfill plastic and aluminum destined for landfill to be used in art as a medium and used as an accessible art tool.
In the end, the students used the plastic waste to creative a collaborative art piece that echoes the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and used upcycled materials to create an accessible art tool to engage all students in making eco-art. We then held an after-school art installation at a local coffee shop to celebrate the work the students did for this action project and collect data on how viewing the art and attending the event could change individual waste management behaviours in our community. This project continues to have an impact on our community through having the collaborative piece “Plastic, Plastic, Plastic” hosted and showcased at Toronto’s Ripley’s Aquarium, where visitors will continue to be inspired by our students’ climate action project.