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2015 Plastic Free Hawaii School Mural

April 20, 2015
By: Iroquois Point Elementary School

How were the materials collected?
Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! To create our Kokua Hawai'i Foundation mural, that’s exactly what the students of Iroquois Point Elementary School did! To start, the thirty elected representatives and four officers of Student Council Association used recycled items (such as empty milk jugs, juice jugs and boxes) to create collection bins to place in each classroom, K-6th, of our school. Students made daily morning announcements requesting that everyone take part to help our environment and to beautify our campus. Working with the SCA, the Pearl City Home Depot donated the glue and wood needed to mount the mural on the wall. To purchase the rest of the adhesive, funds from monthly SCA HI 5 Recycling drives were used. Then, each Friday, SCA invited other student volunteers to sort the bottle caps by color in preparation for mounting.

Who was involved?
In all, over 700 IPES students took part in collecting bottle caps and turned them into their fabulous SCA Representatives for sorting. The three SCA Advisors and our Head Custodian, Mr. John, worked with SCA to secure the most optimal location for the mural based on prime location for student traffic. SCA members submitted sketches and pictures of ideas of how the mural could look. It was our sixth grade SCA Secretary, Ioana, who ultimately incorporated all the students’ suggestions into one final design. SCA advisors worked with administration, PTA and custodial staff to get approval for the project, but it was the SCA members, advisors who collaborated during and after school to piece the mural together.

Our plastic free message is
Did you know that, according to Irish Times, 30% of all plastic produced are only used a single time, some of which are not even designed to be recycled? In creating our mural, our message is to turn trash into treasure and to make less waste for a better place! Most plastic negatively affects our ecosystems and can kill our precious sea life and birds.  As plastic breaks down into microscopic pellets it becomes attractive for animals to eat without knowing the danger the plastic poses.  By creating the mosaic of bottle caps, the students of IPES took action to reduce the amount of plastic waste that would otherwise land up in our oceans and landfills.  Instead, we turned trash into treasure by creating the Tree of Knowledge to promote responsible environmental appreciation and action by reducing, reusing and recycling.

Why it is important?
The message behind our mosaic art, The Tree of Knowledge, is that, each of us live in beautiful place that we need to take part to protect.  At the heart of our mosaic is the natural beauty that surrounds all of us here in Hawaii: the lush green Earth, the colorful rainbows, the vibrant flowers, and the warm, nourishing sun.  In the distance, you can see the flowing ocean that connect each of us and in the foreground is a tree that represents each of us, growing and learning. Here in Hawai’i, we are blessed but especially vulnerable.  Did you know that, floating right next to the Hawaiian islands, there is a giant trash vortex? This means that because of the ocean patterns every kind of debris, especially plastic, gets stuck together creating a trash island that is about DOUBLE the size of the state of Texas.  Even if we tried to clean it up, in a year it would take 67 boats to only make less than 1% of an impact to the trash vortex.  Each of us needs to take responsible action to preserve our environment and to protect the resources of our islands for our children. It is important that we all take part, and we all did! Through collaboration, appreciation, commitment and reflection, our community worked together to turn trash into treasure, ultimately creating an example of the beauty that can be created by looking at things with a different perspective.