Institute for Environmental Solutions project WasteArt concluded at the end of January. It was implemented to increase the awareness and change people’s habits towards more environmentally friendly behaviour concerning the waste reduction, re-use, and recycling. This was demonstrated in practice – travelling exhibition “NOT out of sight, NOT out of mind” visited 6 education and art centres and 27 educational institutions implemented waste audit.
The average amount of household waste produced per capita in the European Union is decreasing, but it in Latvia and Estonia it continues to grow. Trash does not disappear from the planet. It is accumulating at a disturbing rate. During three-year period Institute for Environmental Solutions in cooperation with WasteArt partners have worked to raise public awareness and understanding of this problem in Latvia and Estonia. Last few years have been dedicated to waste recycling, but it is important to know that it is the last step in waste management hierarchy. First one is to try not to produce waste, then to evaluate what is necessary in our everyday lives and choose reusable options, after that comes the recycling and finally, the last step is to send the leftovers to landfill. These and other practices need to be introduced both in Latvia and in Estonia in order to reach the European Union's target of reducing household waste to 10% by 2030. Eurostat data (2017) shows that in Latvia 31% of household waste is buried in landfills while 20% in Estonia. This means that both countries need to take swift and practical action to reach the 2030 target.
WASTE AUDIT IN SCHOOLS AND KINDERGARTENS
Children and youth can contribute to change habits in their families by encouraging environmentally friendly behaviour. Project WasteArt partners Vidzeme Planning Region (Latvia) and Tipu Nature School (Estonia) in cooperation with expert from Foundation for Environmental education – Daniels Trukšāns have developed first waste audit tool for schools and kindergartens in Latvia and Estonia. This methodological material provides a detailed insight into how to carry out a waste reduction project at school by implementing a waste audit and related steps – an action plan, a monitoring and evaluation process, and linking to the curriculum. 14 educational institutions in Vidzeme and 13 in Estonia have already participated in the testing of Waste audit tool and have implemented practical actions to reduce the volume of produced waste.
Dagmar Hoder from Tipu Nature School notes, as a result of waste audit, participating schools could see their weak points and where improvements are possible to reduce the amount of waste. They discovered that in order to provide suitable waste sorting in schools support from both the school management and municipalities is necessary.
Vidzeme Planning Region project co-ordinator Maya Rieksta emphasized that the project is closing, but education of children will continue. As teachers agreed at the beginning of the project on a shared slogan: “We cannot free the world from waste in a single day, but by educating children, good change will happen every day.”
For any school it is possible to download waste audit materials free of charge to assess the generated waste at school in order to find solutions on how this volume can be reduced.
More about waste audit materials and process here.
RAISING AWARENESS THROUGH ART
The leading partner of the project WasteArt Institute for Environmental Solutions in cooperation with artist residency MoKS (Estonia) and Polva municipality (Estonia) implemented a contemporary art campaign “NOT out of sight, NOT out of mind”. For this travelling exhibition 17 internationally recognized artists from 9 countries were invited to develop artworks using waste materials found locally or from the SIA “ZAAO” landfill “Daibe”. The exhibition stressed the consequences of overconsumption and invited it's visitors to look at the waste differently – as a material, resource and opportunities for the future.
During a two-year period, the exhibition travelled through 6 art, culture and environmental education centres in Latvia and Estonia. Curators Evelyn Grzinich and Indrek Grigor describes the exhibition creation process: “Trash as such isn’t something bad or abnormal. And what seemed to be worthless for one can become valuable for other. It’s noteworthy that most artists in the exhibition referred to waste as a material rather than a problem, while talking about their work. The potential for creating something from seemingly nothing lies deep in our culture.”
Artist Timo Toots (Estonia) explained lessons he has learned during artwork creation process: “During artwork creation process I used electronic devices that society has discarded as useless in SIA “ZAAO” sorting place. While trying to fix these devices I learned that part of them still operate on some level. This is one of the biggest challenges of consumption cycle, if the device breaks, we buy a new one. But please, next time you feel like discarding any of your electronics with the aim of acquiring something new, reconsider and give second chance to those that you already have.”
More about artistic campaign “NOT out of sight, NOT out of mind” here.
At the end of January Institute for Environmental Solutions together with other WasteArt partners organized online closing event “New life of waste through education and art”. Recording of this event is available on project Facebook page.
More about project here.