Westmoreland residents turn trash into treasure

Westmoreland residents turn trash into treasure

Thursday, July 18, 2019

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TWENTY-FIVE community members from Whitehouse and Bluefields, Westmoreland, recently learnt during an upcycling workshop how to use waste materials or useless, unwanted products to create new materials or products that have a higher value, not only monetarily but also for the environment.

Upcycling is the process of creative reuse, transforming waste materials or useless, unwanted products into new materials or products that have a higher value not only monetarily but also for the environment.

The programme, initiated by the Sandals Foundation, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is part of the Whitehouse and Bluefields Solid Waste Reduction Project.

This project, which has been taking place over the last 14 months, has introduced waste separation, plastic bottle recycling, community composting, and lessons in schools to engage the youth in these activities at an early stage.

In the first session of the workshop attendees were taught how to use a variety of waste materials, including wine corks, paper, and lionfish fins, to make jewellery. In the second session they were taught how to make durable garbage bins using primarily plastic bottles.

According to Sandals Foundation Environmental manager Bianca Young, the aim of this workshop was to encourage and introduce upcycling as a method to empower community members to participate in the waste reduction and separation project as well as to create an incentive to drive and expand the initiative.

“This session is an important part of the Whitehouse/Bluefield Solid Waste Reduction Project because of the impact it can have in creating a sense of community when it comes to solid waste management,” said Young. “There is potential for persons to make a livelihood through upcycling,” she added.

One of the facilitators for the sessions, Robert Toby Grant, CEO for Jamaica Artistic Movement for Youth and Humanity (Jamyah) International was particularly intrigued by the lionfish fin earrings that some participants made.

“The lionfish remains a growing problem in our marine environment, so to see where we can eat it and then afterwards use the wasted parts of it to make earrings, bracelets, etc, is very good.” he said.

“Whitehouse is a fishing community and we want to preserve that. We want the young people to actually venture out into things like these where they have the beauty and bounty of the environment and at the same time can actually make a living from it.”

For Christopher, a resident of St Elizabeth who attended the jewellery making session, the initiative was really interesting. “It's nice to see that we could make everything from scratch and everything here you can basically find at home so it's really interesting.”

Another resident, Nickeisha Robinson, of Bluefields, said the session was excellent. “I plan on carrying my pieces back to my community and sharing what I've learned with my community members and guests. And my children are going to enjoy this as well,” she said.

Robinson and a number of other attendees particularly enjoyed making the plastic bottle bins and jewellery items from waste paper, which is readily available throughout their communities.

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