A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TRASH CHUTE

Our partner TreePeople is one of many these days doing brilliant things with recycled trash.

The TreePeople’s Story

These days artists are doing brilliant things with recycled trash. There is one artist who turns his own personal trash into art by projecting light through it, another who recreated the Mona Lisa out of plastic, and another who made a magnificent beached mermaid scene out of 10,000 plastic water bottles to draw attention to plastic pollution. But what is equally as incredible as these professionals are students who are making brilliant sculptures out of trash they’ve collected. Students at Eastside High School in Lancaster, CA are calling this project “Wasteland, too,” and it is based off of a similar project that their teacher Evelyn Rivas did a few years ago called “Wasteland” in which her students made flower sculptures out of recycled trash. This year, the 200 students involved stepped it up a notch, making fully-functional solar light sculptures out of trash!

The trash sculptures were just one component in a brilliantly-crafted lesson on how illegal dumping can affect one’s community — the people, the animals, and the surrounding environment. In order to visualize why their community has problems with illegal dumping, they created a community map of where the dump sites are in relation to other landmarks.

Community Map
Eastside High School’s Roots & Shoots Community Map

Students and families learned about the appropriate ways to dispose of trash and unwanted items, and the legal ramifications of illegal dumping from community collaborators and guest speakers. Karen Tandler of the District Attorney’s office, as well as Donald Watkins and David Jones, representatives of the city of Lancaster, were among these speakers. The students also got to greet a real owl when representatives from Parks and Recreation came to share about how illegal dumping affects wild animals.

"There are approximately 100 million tons of illegally dumped garbage lying around the world."

Anna Stewart
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But you can’t learn about trash without getting your hands dirty. So the students ventured to some dump sites to clean up as well as to personally scavenge for the trash that they would be using to form their sculptures. They also participated in a nature walk, photographing illegal dump sites in preserved areas to really witness the harsh contrast of trash disposed of in nature.

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