Thursday, August 27, 2009

New-Year Resolution #1

Mosaic mirror; recycled pottery shards on plywood with molding scraps
As I was unpacking my room today, it occurred to me that I could do so much more (environmentally speaking) than I'm already doing. Currently, I do a unit on recycled materials; there's a world of artisans who are making wonderful art from cast-off materials. It's a rich resource for studying cultural connections, socio-economic issues, and really cool art. The web is a wonderful resource for these explorations. My latest find is this site:, where Ugandan women create wonderful jewelry from colorful bits of paper, and have rescued themselves and their communities from poverty through their art. I've heard the story before, and have loved it each time: the art of Oaxaca, Mexico comes to mind specifically. Any Fair Trade site will show you the gazillions of ways people have used their ingenuity, talent, and local materials to pull themselves up from the depths of poverty. Creativity = Possibility. But I digress.
I have spent the last few years canvassing my fellow teachers and support folks for their unused, unrecyclable stuff to use in my art room. We use those nasty meat and vegetable trays (well cleaned, no worries) for paint trays. We use plastic bags to keep clay moist. We melt waste glass into beads. We use broken glass and pottery for mosaics. We make paper from cast-off paper, and make paper-mache from leftover, slightly used newspaper, which we also use to cover our desks. We repurpose the books the library discards, making altered books and using the extra pages for origami. Each lesson has its cultural connections.

Recycled glass, metal scraps, wire and stone chips

But there's more we can do. Do you know how much paper is discarded in an art room? Or how many plastic bottles of water are consumed by a school full of students in a single day? I'm going to start with my own room, and learn the dynamics of greening kids; from past experiences, I think they'll be on-board. We'll move out then, into the cafeteria, and the other classrooms. Right now, I have tons of boxes waiting to be broken down and reused or recycled. I have a box labelled with "plastic", and another one with "paper" by my desk. I'll haul it home to the recycling center myself if I have to. My messy, wasteful artroom is GOING DOWN!

No comments:

Post a Comment