‘Treasures from trash’ on show at ministry’s inaugural recycling exhibition

Brandon’s Ugalo Tradition’s craft items that were made from bamboo on display at the event yesterday.

Bamboo craft was among the items on show yesterday, when the Ministry of Communities held its inaugural Waste to Resource recycling exhibition.

The Main Street Avenue was lined with tents that were filled with craft and the craftsmen and women who hand-carved the pieces. The craft items were laid out on tables for the many curious members of the public who stopped by at intervals, inquiring about what materials they were birthed from.

Around 20 small businesses that use and recycle waste products participated in the exhibition, which was aimed at raising awareness about reusing products, or as one exhibitor put it, “using one man’s trash to make treasures.”

Darren Shako, a consultant with the ministry who is spearheading the Waste to Resource project, told Stabroek News that the event was organised since the ministry recognises the need to rethink and re-evaluate how waste, especially solid waste, is managed in homes and by extension the entire country.

“The conventional approach is to dump everything in the garbage and wait until the guys come to collect it. What we find is that we produce a whole lot of waste and some of the things in the waste should not be called waste,” Shako said, while stating that as part of the National Green Agenda for Solid Waste Management, the Ministry decided to start the process of getting persons to rethink the way in which they view waste.

“The exhibition is just providing a platform for persons who would’ve been reusing waste over the years and we are hoping that it is the start of something new in the country. We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result,” Shako added, while pointing out that he hopes the exhibition provides persons with an insight to the value of the things they currently throw away. Brandon, from Brandon’s Ugalo Tradition, which uses the bamboo plant to make craft items, was present at the exhibition. He explained that he uses the plant to make items such as penholders, picture frames and related items. Brandon, who has been in business for some five years, explained that he was inspired by his father, Lennox, who had been making the items since he was a little boy.

Lennox, who was also present, said that he was motivated by the fact that he didn’t have a job and decided to use the bamboo plant, which was easily accessible and free, to make a living.

Another exhibitor, Cherry, explained that she has been in business for more than seven years. Spread across her table were various craft items and jewellery that were made from materials such as seashells, paper, cardboard and items that are easily found in the home.

Even though she said she’s comfortable with what she does, Cherry explained that she has noticed that there is little attention from the local market towards the arts and craft business, especially for the recycled materials.

“For emancipation, we would sell and those holidays but mostly it’s the visitors who would usually support us. There are local people that would buy but it is a handful,” she said.

“The youths are saying there’s nothing to do but there’s so much you can do with the materials right in your home. We want to encourage the youths to try and use those things and make art and you never know how far it will go. Even the older folks can do something with them in their spare time,” Cherry added. Several citizens who stopped and enquired about the exhibition expressed their delight at the move by the ministry to host the event.

“Is not every day you get to see what your household items that you think is garbage can make so it’s a really nice thing, you know. It’s amazing to see how talented these people are and how they are able to use these simple materials and create these magnificent things,” one person said.

“I think it’s about time we catch up with the rest of the world and understand the importance of recycling and everything else that follows that path and so I think is good that they starting this and I hope is an every year event and is even bigger next year,” John DaSilva said.

The two-day event, which runs from 9am to 60pm on Main Street outside of Tower Suites, will end today.

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