Doc's quest to protect the environmentWednesday, September 08, 2021
BY VENESHA MORRIS
STONEHENGE, St James — In the quiet, rural community of Stonehenge, a one-man battle to save the environmental has raged for four years.
Sixty-five-year-old Basil Edwards collects plastic waste and transforms it into craft, jewellery, and toys.
Originally from Catadupa, the man many know only as Doc named his initiative CataDoc Arts.
“I love to see the place clean; I don't want to see plastic bottles in the drain or in the gully. I want to do my part to save the environment,” Edwards told the Jamaica Observer when asked what prompted him to start his initiative back in 2017.
He drives around Stonehenge and neighbouring communities including Cambridge, Catadupa, Bottom and Top Stonehenge — in search of bottles.
“In my community I have large garbage bags placed in strategic locations where residents are encouraged to put their plastic,” said Edwards.
He carefully sanitises (a soap and water washing process followed by a spray of alcohol) all the plastic items he collects before using them to make a range of items. Under his skilful hands, what used to be garbage comes back to life as attractive household items.
He makes napkin holders, boxes to hold trinkets and jewellery, cutlery holders, vases, flower pots, hair accessories as well as a wide variety of children's toys.
“Sometimes when I make the items I surprise myself,” the certified plumber told the Observer while demonstrating how a toy truck made from plastic drives impressively along the floor of his workshop.
“All the materials on that truck come from recycled items,” he said with pride. On average, he uses more than 300 plastic bottles monthly as well as other plastic items such as cigarette lighters.
He sells his creations at the Harbour Street Craft Market in Montego Bay. He does not charge much.
“I sell them at a low cost; just enough money to buy paint and other things to make more. A toy car will be sold for like $100,” he said.
Like others in the craft industry, Edwards has senn a significant drop in sales because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Since COVID come here I have not been able to sell like I used to at craft market, because you know everything is affected by this,” he said. “When the Social Development Commission has any function in the parish they will tell me and I will take my items and sell them there.”
Schools in the area are also supportive... when there are face-to-face classes.
“I would sell [to schools] too, and sometimes they will ask me to do recycling projects for them,” Edwards said.
He uses every chance he gets to teach his skill to youngsters in the community. “I don't want this effort to die with me; I want it to be continued even after I'm gone,” said Edwards.
And, of course, he also uses every opportunity he gets to warn anyone who will listen about the danger in improperly disposing of plastic.