Recyclable Art with the Carbonear Green Team

Four people stand behind a mermaid tail make from aluminum cans.
The Carbonear Green Team’s recyclable art installation at the Rorke Museum in Carbonear, NL. Left to right: Jessie King (Green TeamTeam Member), Autumn Lambert (Team Leader), Ben Piercey (Regional Supervisor), and Frank Butt (Mayor of Carbonear).

The Green Team with the Town of Carbonear spent the summer of 2021 transforming trash into treasure. Green Team Members Autumn Lambert and Jessie King collected a variety of recyclable donations from the community and used the materials to create works of art. The pieces were displayed in green spaces and trails around the town of Carbonear. This project allowed the team to not only express their creativity through their work, but also teach the community about recycling and reusing materials. 

What is recyclable art?

Recyclable art involves taking recycled or discarded materials and transforming them into some type of art piece or sculpture. Anyone can make recyclable art by reusing discarded materials for crafts. Artists who specialize in recyclable art may exhibit pieces in museums, or sell functional objects and decor.

Two women stand next to a table with aluminium pieces laid out in the shape of a mermaid tail.
Autumn (left) and Jessie (right) at the beginning of their project. Photo credit: CCNL, 2021.

The Green Team with the Town of Carbonear focused their efforts around the idea of reusing commonly recycled materials. After collecting a variety of materials from the community, the team designed art pieces to be placed around the community. Throughout the summer, the team created a mermaid tail and an aluminum can tuna fish, as well as fish, foxes, and racoons made from two-litre bottles. Autumn and Jessie also led crafts with local youth, including creating grasshoppers and flowers from egg cartons. Crafting activities was one way to teach youth about recyclable materials and waste reduction, while showing them that repurposing materials can be fun and interesting.

Plastic bottle that have been cut in half and painted to look like foxes and racoons.
The Green Team made these foxes and racoons from 2-litre plastic bottles. 2021.

Why is recyclable art important?

Recyclable art can give people a new appreciation for materials that are commonly used, and disposed of, in everyday life. By turning single-use objects into art, recyclable art transforms materials that are unremarkable into pieces meant to be admired.

Placing art pieces in public areas also encourages residents to visit local trails and green spaces and consider these everyday materials with a new perspective. In order for the team to create the aluminum can fish and mermaid tail, hundreds of cans needed to be used. If it was not for this project, the majority of those cans would have been discarded.  These art pieces not only create environmental awareness but are a great way to find a good use for unwanted materials.

A purple and yellow spray painted fish made from a plastic bottle.
Autumn and Jessie created plastic bottle fish as one of their recyclable art pieces. Photo credit: CCNL, 2021.

More about this project

The Town of Carbonear envisioned and supported this project for the benefit of the community through the collection of recyclables, the installation of projects, and at local events. The Green Team also hosted a clean up event which allowed the team to start a conversation about the importance of recycling and where to dispose of trash. It was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the impact garbage has on the environment while encouraging the general public to reuse, reduce, and recycle. These many interactions opened the floor to a variety of project focused conversations, which would then turn into a discussion about recycling and waste management.

Learn more about Conservation Corps NL’s Green Team Program here.

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